Friday, December 11, 2009

One Righteous Man

I was going to be peopling my Wall of Shame today with drivers. I headed out earlier than usual, in actual rush hour traffic (8:00) down Bank Street, because I needed to get downtown to the A Channel studio to sing for the breakfast show with my choir. And it's still pretty icky out there. -16 with the wind chill, and the right-hand side of the road still lying under a couple centimeters of slush.

And the going was rough. It took me nearly an hour to get from my place to the Market, and the first thing to happen to me was having some jerk edge out around me while I was waiting to turn left off my home street - as though he was going to turn right - only to then turn left, cutting me off, on the way through the light. I'm sure that saved him all of a half second.

And there were others: the massive pickup that stopped eight inches off my back tire at a light, the guy in the minivan that edged up behind me as I pulled forward waiting for a green, trying to get a little ahead of him and avoid the slush at the corner, and then gunned it past me with a foot of clearance. The drivers just don't seem to realize how slippery and spooky that layer of slush can be, and how much further into their lane it drives me. I'm sure some of them bitch to themselves about "road warriors" and "menacing cyclists" (I'm quoting real people here) as they honk their horns and squeal past me.

But... I left the A Channel station and headed out through the Market, and across the Saint Patrick bridge toward work. And heading along Beechwood things got a little easier, so I got sloppy, and when I found myself rolling up to a stoplight that had just turned yellow, I hit the brakes. And skidded, and slipped, and the back tire went sideways, and I got a foot down in time to not fall over, but I wound up canted across the right lane. The guy standing at the corner made an "oh!" noise as I pulled the bike over to the side of the lane again. Thank god there wasn't anyone right behind or beside me when I skidded.

And then a guy in a truck pulled up and rolled his window down. "Got a little clogged up there," he said.

"Yeah," I said, "that's what I get for trying to stop at the red light, like a car. Shoulda just gone straight through, it's safer."

"Well, you wouldn't get a ticket," he said.

"Not sure about that, they ticket cyclists now. And they should," I said.

"They'd never give you a ticket." He shook his head. "Not in this weather."

"Maybe not." Then the light turned green and I got ready to head out again.

"I'll let you go ahead," he said, and I called out a thanks and pulled out ahead of him. He waited, then started up, and passed me a couple of seconds later, and I waved at him as he drove off. One nice driver. I was smiling when I got to my coffee shop to pick up a cup for work. All he had to do was roll down the window, and engage a cyclist like a human being. May he be blessed with a non-skid winter.

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