Sunday, May 4, 2014

Two Things from Today's Ride

P__ is enjoying her Neuvation and I played hooky from the 400K this weekend so we went out both days for ~25 miles north and west of town.

Today I saw a guy wearing a "Russia" kit.   $10 says he bought it from Performance, selling some imitation national team kits or the like.  But amazing how quickly I defaulted to "tsk, tsk, how dare he wear Russia colors in America!"  The last time I remember feeling that way was about when American Flyers was in the theaters.

Marcus (Costner) takes on Belov in the Hell of the West.  Love those
biceps.  And that helmet.

And on Tuckerman Lane riding into Bethesda a woman very nearly ran down P__.  The woman was pulling out of a side-street in her CRV; P__ was riding ahead and curb-side of me; and we both noticed at the last second the woman making her move before we were clear.  I yelled, P__ yelled, the woman stopped, P__ gassed it just enough to keep her wheel out from under the bumper.  I was right next to the near-collision, and it was inches.

It went south from there, of course.  P__ continued up the street a short ways, but this lady was not continuing on her way that easily.  Perhaps my funniest move was popping a wheelie up onto the hood of her car to get her to stop. 

"I'm sorry."  
"I don't care if you are sorry."
"Are you going to beat me up?"
"I'm not going to beat anybody up.  I want you to go home and keep off the road so the rest of us can make it home safely."

To her credit, she handled getting yelled at with relative equanimity.  The one line that visibly shocked her?

"My problem is you and all the other old biddies thinking you can threaten the rest of us just by getting behind the wheel."

I guess some people just don't like being called old biddies.

I've ridden Tuckerman dozens of times.  It's a road with plenty of cars driving plenty fast and there is no shoulder for bikes.  I was worried about taking P__ there; near misses are part of the sport, but when you ride <1000 miles in a year they affect you very differently.


Unknown said...

Yikes; sorry to hear about the incident. I'm glad everyone's ok. For what it matters, I'm struck by your use of "biddy," which definitely would not have been my b-word of choice.

sam said...

I'll be honest, this sounds like an unnecessary and wholly unproductive confrontation.

I'm disturbed by the image of an old woman who, yes, did something stupid, but acknowledged it, apologized for it, and was subsequently berated and in fear of being beaten up.

I'm not sure what the encounter accomplished, except to escalate a situation that should have been de-escalated.

Max said...

Yes. On the other hand, try watching your wife nearly get hit by a car, having crushed her elbow the last time she had a biking accident, and report back to me how it goes for you.

Max said...

I thought harder about this. It is not just that "you'd do the same in my shoes." It is that I think Sam is flat wrong.

Our Sunday Driver in my story was inattentive. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and not claim she was texting or dialing or changing the radio, but at best she looked left over her shoulder and proceeded right without looking in front of her. Some combination of a last-minute flash of color and my yell stopped her. But for that, P__ would have been down, at a minimum hurt from the fall -- but because then she would then have been out of sight below the hood of the SUV, she might well have been run over as our Sunday Driver continued on, unaware of anything except a bump that could very well have been the curb.

Sound like a worst-case scenario? It is. But short of that scenario's occurring one day, *nothing* stops our Sunday Driver from continuing to pull out 3/4 blind onto the road-way. There are no traffic laws, no driver's license renewal education courses, no form of third-party intervention that would cause her to amend her inattention. The only cure is to see -- to *cause* -- the worst-case scenario first-hand. Of course, at that point it is too late.

My reaction was in the excitement of the moment. But it had the salutary effect of making the experience nearly as negative for our Sunday Driver as it was for P__. No, nearly is too strong -- maybe halfway as negative, or 1/4-way as negative, but the point remains. Our Sunday Driver will not approach that intersection again without thinking about a bicyclist.

You may say "but now she hates cyclists." I respond "I don't care." I have long known that a hostile driver is much better than is a naive or a careless driver. At least the hostile driver is paying close attention as he or she buzzes you. The careless driver does not know you are there. That is when you get killed.

(Sam did say "but she feared getting beaten up." I have no idea whether she feared that or not. I do know it is not my fault. It may be a scary thing to deal with an angry person whom you wronged. That is life in the big city.)

Was our Sunday Driver actually in the wrong after the obvious error on her part? (I.e., during the post-negligence confrontation.) I argue she was. "I said I was sorry" suggests that "sorry" is somehow enough. It isn't. If "I'm sorry" gets you off of carelessness, what incentive exists to be careful? I want "OMG, I am such an idiot, I will take a safety course," voiced with sufficient panic to reflect that the near-miss actually caused a change in attitude. It is not just that I want satisfaction in the moment. I want real driver education to occur.

Call me a jerk. But our Sunday Driver is now duly educated and Tuckerman is an incrementally safer road to ride.

sam said...

I've thought about this scenario a lot over the last two days. My original response was far more measured than my opinion on the subject, so I'll take my own advice and de-escalate. We will have to agree to disagree on this one.

I would encourage you to ponder if you'd feel the same way if P, or mom, had nearly hit someone, and then been detained by that person's spouse angry and physically much larger spouse while he berated her in order to teach her a lesson.

sam said...
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