Wednesday, June 08, 2005

the view from two wheels

As I biked home today, I went through one of my busier intersections: left turn onto a one-way street, where the right lane is an entrance to the interstate. It was backed up as usual with people trying to fight their way onto the interstate. Following my normal rush-hour strategy of "act like a car," I turned left and stayed on the right edge of the lane to the left of the freeway entrace one. Today, for a change, I got honked at: "the bike lane's on the other side, dumb-ass!" Um, yeah. That would be the shoulder of the road, which becomes a sidewalk, and which is currently blocked by people trying to get onto the interstate. So if I wanted to use it, I'd have to ride up the shoulder of the entrance lane, risking someone from the oncoming traffic turning into me, and then thread my way through the traffic entering the interstate, and then ride along the sidewalk, before I could merge back into traffic. "Thank you for your suggestion. Unfortunately, I receive may fine suggestions and can't accept them all. Your idea will remain on file in case a suitable opening -- or a catastrophic failure of good judgment -- should occur. In the meantime, may I interest you in the fine passing lane to my left?"

It's actually very rare that I get honked at during rush hour. This particular driver was probably having a bad day, in a hurry, and looking for someone to take it out on. Usually you get the better drivers during the commute times: they know exactly what they're doing and where they're going, and it's easy to merge with the flow. The worst time of day to ride seems to be around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. on a weekday, because that's when the weaker drivers seem to be out: they're less predictable, they hesitate on lane changes, don't check as often, and don't know how to deal with a bicycle. If I'm going to get honked at, or get that ridiculous "get on the sidewalk!" suggestion[1], nine times out of ten that's when it'll happen.

In any case, I may continue this series about the perspective from atop two wheels. There are a few things that need to be said about some of the bike riders, too.

[1] Sidewalks are bad. There are pedestrians there, and I move much faster than pedestrians. They're usually bumpy, and sometimes the curbs don't have wheelchair ramps. Oh, and cars turning right rarely check the sidewalk for anything moving faster than a pedestrian.

No comments: