I was on my way to work last Tuesday after the holiday weekend. I had gotten a few flats that weekend and was being extra-aware of everything that morning. A person I often see riding his bike to work also was ahead of me as I approached a certain intersection. I saw him do what I usually see him do — break a traffic law. (I’ll admit to making right turns on red that are not allowed for certain times of day and bending or breaking other laws when it’s going to keep me safe. Heading North from Downtown on Calvert Street, for instance, stopped at a light, I’ll run the danged thing if the car behind me is turning right, not looking and has been crowding me for a few blocks. I’d rather get a ticket or even be a bad example than a smooshed example. But this is an extreme example.)
I hate to generalize, but he looks and acts smug. He never waits at any red lights, never looks before turning, even left turns, etc. So I thought it would be funny if I caught up to him before the Jones Falls Trail, maybe pass him on my milk-crated bike and make him feel like poo. I did catch up with him at the red light where Wyman Park Drive and Sisson/Keswick meet because there was too much traffic going by for him to run the light yet. Yes, the one where it’s impossible to see to the right if you’re heading toward Druid Hill. He went to run this dangerous light and lost his chain. Inside, I laughed so hard that I might have snickered out-loud. He wasn’t hurt or anything, just pulled off to fix it and get his hands greasy.
I went on and rode my bike on Fallsway that morning because there was a lot of debris on the trail. I was running kind of close to the clock, so I was in a relatively high gear and pushing toward Downtown much faster than I usually do. Low and behold, this kid who usually uses the road is next to me, on the trail, and it looks like he’s racing me. I didn’t want to get sucked into this stupid race-head bullshit. I let him get a few feet ahead of me because the place where he would have to cross the road or enter the road was coming up, and I didn’t think he’d be reckless enough to dart out into the road without looking. I was half right. He looked, but he still jumped out, right in front of me while I was doing about 25 mph and he had slowed down considerably. I had to slam my brakes and still almost hit him. I was on his back wheel until Maryland Avenue. I was almost late for work, too, from slowing down. Traffic picked up, so I couldn’t pass him, and he was riding slowly from wearing himself out with his racing nonsense.
If you are he, what you did was dangerous and stupid. You could have gotten us both hurt, and you’re damned lucky I wasn’t a car.
It’s bad enough that we have to contend with drivers who are jerks and idiots. Now we have to deal with rude cyclists, too? I passed a guy who was slowing me down yesterday morning on San Martin Drive. But I politely warned him verbally and with my bell and gave him a good six feet — all of which was more than he deserved, since we came out of the same building and he dropped the door on me when I was right behind with a bike.
I can’t figure out if the wankers are new commuters or what. (Somehow, I doubt it.) I’m as glad as anyone to have the company on the road, but we’ve gotta work together more. There’s no excuse for doing things that are dangerous and stupid at the same time.