That’s what the driver screamed at me while I tried to maintain a safe distance from her stopped car, uncertain of what she was going to do next…
A Great Start
I was riding my bicycle, last week, on a lightly traveled back road. Central Virginia is filled with such roads. To me, it’s a cyclist’s paradise living here (unless you don’t like hills, in which case you’re SOL). The day, itself, was stunningly beautiful.
This particular road is one I ride regularly as part of a loop that has a little of everything – stout climbs, quick descents, rollers and long flats on which to hammer.
I felt good. I was about 15 miles into my ride and had planned to meet a friend and, then, ride together to one of the local bike shops for a group ride.
I heard the engine rev loudly. In a moment the bright red car was next to me.
The passenger window was down and the driver was practically out the window screaming obscenities at me. Most of it was undecipherable. She gave me the middle finger and accelerated ahead. Talk about road rage!
Then she hit the brakes and stopped in the middle of the road. Oh, great…
Since the road sloped downward, I slowed but didn’t stop. I cautiously approached around the passenger side to get by.
More obscenities. More middle finger gestures.
And the piece de resistance, “I’ll fucking run you over!”
To which I responded, “Fine. I have your license plate number.” (I didn’t, I only had the first three letters)
Motorists treat cyclists like shit.
In the last six months, I’ve had a Styrofoam cup filled with soda thrown at me from an open car window. Deafened by the thunder of exhaust from a group of Harley riders who pegged it as they passed. And nearly forced off the road by an 18-wheeler.
Frequently, my fellow riders and I are shouted at or given the middle finger.
And, nearly every ride, we’re buzzed by cars and trucks passing within two feet of us.
Recently, a motorist had the temerity to send a letter to the editor of our local newspaper claiming, “I’m tired of risking my life every time I drive to the grocery store because you’ve chosen to ride your bikes…”
Even lawmakers in Virginia refused to pass a bill that most states have already adopted that makes it a law that motorists must allow at least three feet around a cyclist when following or passing.
Please Share The Road
I’m respectful of motorists. I obey traffic laws. I use hand signals. I stay close to the shoulder (or in the shoulder) when riding so drivers can pass without crossing the yellow line. I wave cars around me when it’s safe; I’ll warn them not to pass if it’s not. Heck, I’ll pull off the road on a long climb if cars are lining up behind me.
My fellow cyclists are the same way. And if we encounter a rider who isn’t being an ambassador for cycling by sharing the road, we’ll dress him or her down.
Motorists need to extend the same courtesies to cyclists. Slow down. Give us some room. We’re talking about, perhaps, seconds of inconvenience to you!
All it takes is just one little tap to send a cyclist flying to serious injury or death.
Think I’m being melodramatic? Hello, it’s a 17 pound bike! In contrast, the average car weighs 4000 pounds.
Every cyclist I know strives to ride as safely and expediently as possible when out on public roads. Since most towns don’t have bike lanes and bike paths, we’re truly grateful for the right to safely share the roadways.
Please extend the same courtesy and share the road.
I’ll be back next time with a marketing update on the charity cycling event, Storming of Thunder Ridge.
(Image: Stefan Moscalu)