I haven’t been on the bike for almost two weeks. The Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be busier than I thought. So I was really looking to today’s commute in.
The fog was burning off and the morning chill wasn’t stinging as much as I warmed up. I made my planned stop at the post office and started up the 1st hill. Not a big one, just enough to get you fully warmed up.
On the downhill there always seems to be more traffic and less room for bikes. I’ve tried taking a lane on this section many times, but I’ve just decided that this section of road is not worth the risk. So I ride the shoulder. It’s not the best, but it’s much more peaceful than the constant honking and yelling that comes when you use too much of the lane.
Here’s where it goes bad.
The light turns green and we proceed into the intersection. As I’m watching to see if the car in front of me is going to make a right hand turn, a cyclist appears on the left side of the car. The driver was aware that I was there but is startled by this new cyclist. The cyclist is trying to go around her and cuts her off. So she honks, he gives the middle finger and she brakes right in front of me. I grab a handful of brakes and barely miss the cars bumper. Phew. All of this happens in a second or two, seems longer though.
The thing that bugs me is that I was riding in what I feel is the safest place for that section and it was another cyclists actions that almost got me hurt. I shift to the big ring and try my best to catch him. When I do he doesn’t understand why she honked. I tell him about the drama he caused and that he and I are at the same intersection at the same time. He gained no time at all by putting me at risk. He shrugs and pedals off. A little faster this time. Whatevs right?
The rest of the ride in I’m thinking about other cyclists. How this riders actions affected me. How have I affected other riders? What happens if I flip off a driver? Do they get over it right away, or do they simmer and then take it out on an unsuspecting cyclist later?
This is my problem with the Critical Mass. It can be a fun time with other cyclists. Seemingly taking over the city and disobeying the rules. But what happens when a car is surrounded by 100-200 cyclists and has no where to go? All they can do is sit and honk and curse. The cyclists yell and curse back and the mob moves on. The CM riders do whatever they want. Safety in numbers right? Then, when I’m pedaling home from work, the car sees me alone. Do you think they are happy to see any cyclists then? Do they think “there’s one, let’s give him room because we are now aware”? Hell no. They throw something out their window, or they swerve at me. All because of other cyclists actions.
It is hard to do it, but sometimes you have to think about how your actions affect other people. Sometimes it’s better to get to work slowly and more importantly safely. The best part of that deal is you get more time to pedal!