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The Bike Beat

This winter I went 46 days without riding my bike. Seems to happen every winter. I stop riding when it gets dark at 5pm, and I start having trouble finding my way through the woods going home from work. It takes me about a month to get my lights and gloves and everything set, and get past my fear of the cold. And when it gets snowy, crusty, or muddy, that is an additional impediment. The cinders lining the roadsides are an additional challenge that lasts for a long time after each snow. But when it gets warm in March I'm ready to ride.

Last week I dusted off the bike and went for a joy ride. I've ridden at least a little every day since then. When Flagstaff traffic is frustratingly slow (Friday afternoons & weekends), it is especially satisfying to ride. I can get where I'm going faster by bike, especially considering the time it takes to find parking and walk to my destination. On a bike you always get front door parking.

I rode to the Kunstler talk the other night, and on my way there I ride a short distance on highway 89A on the west side of town. It was night. I was riding toward the light at Lake Mary Road and there was a bike coming in the other direction with a dim white light on the front. I ride with two forward white lights and two blinking red lights in the rear. A truck came down the road toward me, heading out of town. He veered away from the other bicyclist and headed straight toward me. By the time he reached me he was driving completely in the wrong lane, and passed by me closely going about 50mph.

That driver was not a drunk. I caught his vibe from the moment that he spotted me. That was an asshole pretending to be a drunk. He intentionally threatened me with his truck. He slowed down after he buzzed me, and I think he was watching to see if he made me wreck. I had changed direction, and was ready to leave the road to avoid certain death impact, but I thought I could tell from his driving that he was actually just being a dick and not really trying to kill me. Unfortunately it was dark so I didn't get a plate or color or anything. If I had to guess I'd say it was a Chevy from the late 90's. But they all look the same to me, when they're pointed at me. If I was a cop with a gun that guy would be dead.

My adrenaline was high for the rest of the ride. I am alarmed by this behavior, and it is not the first time that I have been randomly threatened on the road. So far every threat has come from the driver of a pickup truck. I would list the events here, but they are too numerous. I think that there are people out there who would like to intimidate all bicyclists off the road. They are willing to break a law or two to assert their dominance. Every bicyclist in Flagstaff knows about the bike-car collisions that have happened here. And I suspect, so do these truck drivers who want to frighten us off the road.

After the Kunstler talk I was chatting with some friends outside the library about this incident. They said "You'll have the last laugh"--meaning that when the asshole can't drive his truck anymore, I can still ride my bike. I said "Yeah, if I survive that long." There is something very scary happening in this country, and it is going to get worse. Kunstler tried to play down the chaos and strife aspect, but it came through in his model of the future, loud and clear.

Beams of sunshine as usual, coming your way.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, I feel that sunshine!

I have also been intimidated by drivers. Screw them, I say.
Mar. 8th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was cursing the dickhead before he was even past me. He was threatening to murder me with his grill. I hope he caught MY vibe. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior. But how to convict him? That is tough.
Mar. 9th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
I definitely know what you're talking about here. Seems fairly safe downtown and on campus--the worst events are usually stupidity and not paying attention, not aggression--but any time I go beyond these invisible boundaries there are more close calls than I care to keep track of. I've never biked anywhere else, got my first bike here in Flag, but I hear it's actually pretty friendly here compare to other places. Wow. I've heard Portland is about the best place in the country, so I hope you find smooth sailing there.
Mar. 9th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Portland has an awesome bike trail system. I'm going to live where I can commute on the trail beside the river....goodie.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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