LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along

Confessions of an (expletive deleted)


_"You have GOT to be the dumbest (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) on the planet. Stupid (expletive deleted)."_Those were the words that greeted me as I rode my bike home after work one late night (early morning, actually) this past winter.It was cold - in the teens, if I recall - with just enough wind to bring the chill down to the single digits. Bundled against the elements, I rode unmolested until a four-way stop sign about half-way home.Rarely do I encounter anyone on this particular lonely stretch at 1:30 in the morning, but on this particular night I did.I heard the sound of a power window going down and music spilling out and knew what was coming.The passenger in a shiny black SUV poked his head out the window, and the music died down just as he let loose his foul observation about my intellect. I can only guess he had a bit of a stomach bug, because his door was streaked with what I'm certain was vomit. He unleashed another torrent of expletive-leaden observations about my smarts, my looks, my heritage and maybe even my mother. I considered a rejoinder, but nothing good can come from escalating a scene like that in the wee hours on a deserted street corner, so I looked over, blinked, then rolled on toward home.A peel of laughter escaped as the SUV roared around the corner.Why revisit this now, months after the fact? Because that night, perhaps more than any other, encapsulates what it's like to use a bicycle as a primary means of year-round transportation.Though I drive in thunderstorms and on icy days, I ride in pretty much all other types of weather, day and night. By choice. It's good for me, my bank account and the environment.Most of the time, I ride without incident.And yet occasionally - at least a couple of times a week - something happens that reminds me I'm not out for an idyllic romp. Somebody cuts me off, turns in front of me, honks, throws something at me, flips me the bird : or unleashes a steady stream of invective for no apparent reason.This time, as I rode away, I couldn't help but think that, 15 minutes from my less-than-pleasant encounter, I'd be bundled up on the sofa. The feeling would come back to my fingers, the color back to my face, and the dumbest (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) on the planet would be indistinguishable from the smartest.And, blankets or not, the back-seat passenger in a certain black SUV still would be the guy who had nothing better do to in the middle of the night than to accost a guy riding his bike home from work. And the next day he'd still have to clean his own puke off the side of his buddy's car.So welcome to Rolling Along, our new blog about commuting to work every day on your bike. If you are a bike commuter, or if you have questions that might make a good blog post, please use the link below to drop me a line.


Mackadoo 9 years, 9 months ago

I've just started to be a bike commuter a few months ago and have yet to encounter a situation where people have actually yelled at me. Seems I've been lucky.I make it a point to take the backstreets, so I don't have that many problems, but yesterday a rickety old man in a large truck with camper shell -- which is pretty much the same as an SUV: it's large, impossible to see the back corners, and it had just one person in it and no cargo -- tried to pass me, then turn right into a driveway two driveways up, when I was still right next to his rear bumper. Now I finally know what you look like, Marion!Another thing I have noticed from riding daily is that it's much easier for me to negotiate with other bikes the times I'm in my car. Interesting...

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 9 months ago

I think we need to do a better job of designing our communities to be bike friendly. I also think other forms of human powered transportation are likely to develop in the future.In most cases, however, we have to face the challenge of transitioning from a bike unfriendly situation and this involves greater expense.One area in Lawrence that I have a real problem with is the curve where 31st street turns into North-South Kasold. I have lived in this area for about 10 years and all but gave up trying to get my 3 kids across that street to the beautiful bike path on the other side. I remember making a life or death dash for it, all holding hands, scared to death we would be hit by a driver racing around that curve and seeing 3 cars racing toward us. I decided that was enough for me.It is also impossible to get around the curve at all without riding in the street because there are no sidewalks on either side of the street going around the curve. The 45 miles per hour speed limit is so fast that there is no safe way to walk across if you are near the curve and usually someone is speeding. I have seen cars traveling 55 miles per hour around that curve.So a large residential neighborhood is cut off from the bike paths on the SW and W side of Kasold unless they make an extreme effort to get across somehow and with small kids it is dangerous.Unfortunately, I don't know any cheap way to fix the problem and I would probably have to get a petition signed to make those changes anyway.

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

Even with a turkey baster or sperm on a seat it would still be the fault of non-castrated men. I decided it was getting to philosophical, so I just used the same made up statistic as b3.

acg 9 years, 9 months ago

I don't understand why it's so hard to share the road. I don't bike but my hat is off to those that do. Personally, I would find it hot, dirty and uncomfortable and when you throw in the jackasses in cars that ya'll have to deal with, well then it's not worth it. But if you aren't into biking, can't you just be a decent human being to those that are?

d_prowess 9 years, 9 months ago

I think there are a small number of bike riders out there that give people a bad impression of all riders. Especailly, those that don't follow the trafic laws or those that pop from the street to the sidewalk to the street hoping to get places faster. We all know people remember the jerks that annoy them much more than those that don't do anything to even get noticed!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 9 months ago

Nick, "...and there's nothing you can do about it"

Im_not_Rappaport 9 years, 9 months ago

Bravo! I'm right there with you, for all the same reasons. I ride to work whether day, night, rain, sweltering heat or bitter cold. The most interesting insult I've had hurled my way is "Get on the sidewalk, vagabond!"

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

Mackadoo, you will be yelled at...it's just a matter of time. I have noticed that as a woman I am treated better than male riders. I think it is because usually it is male drivers that harass cyclists, and they don't feel as tough picking on a woman.

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

For their own safety all men should be castrated. Non-castrated men cause 99% of the unwanted pregnancies and spread of STIs. Look, I can make stats up too!

laika 9 years, 9 months ago

Nice to see someone writing from the perspective of a biker/bike commuter. Does seem that people love to yell things at bikers, although most of the time I can't understand what they're saying, especially if they're passing me.Love the sidewalk comment too, seems like you can't please anyone. Cops hate bikes being on the sidewalks on Mass, even though if I'm just trying to find somewhere to get off the sidewalk and onto the street, while some people crossing and driving are pretty sure that you have no business on "their" streets.

JohnB 9 years, 9 months ago

Andrew,I'm here via Kansas Cyclist, which has a link to you this morning. I happen to be in Wichita, but I also have a bike-commuting blog (I'm in my 3rd week of using a bike as my primary transportation in town), and I'm always glad to find good Kansas-area blogs on this subject.I'm looking forward to returning often.JohnBCycling in Wichita (http://cyclinginwichita.blogspot.com)

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

Andrew, how far do you bike? both to work and just as a total for an average day? ALSO, what is your take on my experience as follows: One afternoon, when traffic was high (so probably 4:30 or 5:00) I was going west on 6th street at 35 MPH when the car in front of me suddenly changed lanes and instantly I was a few feet from a sweating, struggling cyclist. The passing lane next to me was not clear and I managed to slam on my breaks in time, to which cars began to line up behind me. At every opprotunity, the cars behind me would swing out into the passing lane leaving me trapped behind the cyclist. My heart was racing, first and foremost because I almost hit the guy and secondly, because I was afraid that someone was going to be rear ended (probably me) for going 10 miles an hour (or less, boy, was this guy struggling) on 6th street. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for cyclists, but I'm also all for bicycle LANES, that particular experience has made it difficult for me to have "bicycle friendly" opinions when it comes to policies and rules of the road. Any thoughts (go ahead, win me over.) ? ;)

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