Last week, I was driving in NW Portland along a street with a bicycle lane on the right. I needed to turn into a parking lot on the right, so I signaled, checked my side and rear view mirrors for cyclists, and seeing none, made the turn into the parking lot. Unfortunately, this being the worst parking lot in the entire city to get in and out of (Pearl Hardware/Estes) my attempt to enter was thwarted by someone making what appeared to be a 7-point turn in an effort to exit the lot.
This meant that I was now stuck blocking the bike lane. And along came just the type of cyclist that drives me to distraction: the asshole who thinks he owns the road and does not have to follow the rules that drivers do. See, other cars behind me in my lane were stuck because I could not get into the lot. They patiently waited for the situation to resolve itself. This guy? Not so much.
Let’s call him Bachmann, because like Michelle, he is a clueless fuck.
Bachmann did not appreciate having his commute delayed. After all, it was late afternoon, he was hungry, and that quinoa and tofu isn’t going to cook itself. Bachmann cycled around my car on the left, and as he passed me he slammed his hand as hard as he could into my window. If my window had been rolled down, he would have punched me in the face. As he smacked my car like a red-headed stepchild, he screamed at me. Specifically, he called me a stupid see you next tuesday.
Aw, hell, why pussyfoot around? He called me a stupid cunt. There, I wrote it. Are you offended? If so, sorry. It’s just some consonants and a vowel arranged in a particular fashion – get over it.
I pulled into the lot and was pretty shaken. I’m not accustomed to being yelled at by strangers (you may find that difficult to believe) and it really messed with my head for a while. There I was, having a great day and on my way to get my sweetie a surprise present, and this guy just shit all over my good mood.
I’m not going to go on a diatribe about how many bicyclists flout the rules of the road; we all know that and it’s been done to death. I think it is wonderful that some people commute by bike. Unfortunately for me, it’s not an option because I work from home and biking up the stairs is hella hard. While I question the amount of money that has gone into making Portland one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country (potholes abound and never get filled), I admire most cyclists who are using their own energy to get to and from wherever they need to go. Most of them follow the rules, but those who do not piss me off, and here’s why:
I don’t want to kill someone. Again.
The problem with riding your bike like an asshole is that sooner or later, you will probably get hit by a car. Given the laws of physics, that interaction with a car could be the last thing that ever happens to you. And frankly, I consider that a prime example of Darwinism. I feel bad for your family, I guess, but if your own cycling style leads to your demise, so be it. However, there is someone else who will be gravely impacted by your accident, and that is the driver of the car that hit you.
Many years ago, before I needed Botox and my boobs still passed the pencil test, I killed someone with my car. A transient stepped in front of my Oldsmobuick at 6:30 on a dark rainy morning as I was making a right hand turn onto Burnside on my way home from the gym.
The impact was minimal – I’d compare it to someone giving you a playful punch in the arm. I was at a complete stop and had just taken my foot off the brake when he stepped forward. I saw him immediately and slammed my foot back on the brake, but it was too late: I’d hit him. It was one of the most horrifying moments I’d ever experienced, and as I watched him fall into the street, I screamed and began to cry.
I won’t go into all the details, but when my car hit this man, he did not break his fall with his arms: he just sort of tipped over. He hit his head on the pavement, but when the paramedics took him away in the ambulance they said he was going to be fine.
Four days later, on Thanksgiving, I was informed that he had died. He suffered a subdural hematoma in his fall, and his advanced stage of alcoholism made him prone to the massive brain bleed which eventually killed him.
I struggled with this for years. It severely impacted my life and as a result, I suffered extreme guilt, anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until many years after the accident that I sought counseling and the woman with whom I met impressed upon me the extreme burden one carries when they take the life of another, even if it isn’t their fault.
Right now, I’m guessing some of you are thinking:
After all, I am alive and this man is not. Although his family had not seen him in 25 years, my actions had deprived them of any possibility of a reunion. I killed someone. I KILLED SOMEONE. And I have never gotten over it, though when it does cross my mind, and that happens often, it makes me a more careful, courteous and respectful driver.
So, there it is. Asshole cyclists who run stop signs, ride between lanes, pass illegally and all the other stupid shit they do may end up getting killed by a driver someday. That driver, even if the accident was 100% the fault of the cyclist, will likely suffer extreme emotional distress over being involved in a fatal accident.
If you are one of those bicyclists, knock it the fuck off already.
This concludes our Sunday Rant. Go have a nice day.