Thursday, 23 May 2013

Moving from strength to strength: time to protect your assets.

We interrupt this hiatus for a hiatus from hiatusing.  I have to talk to you.

By now of course you've heard about that crazy Emma Way woman in England who tweeted "Definitely knocked a cyclist off earlier – I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax #bloodycyclists,"  I wonder if she caught the irony, that the only reason he was bloody was because she hit him with her car.

A woman literally ran me off the road with her car on Vancouver Island in 2001. On purpose.  She was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and even though she was found guilty, she received a conditional sentence, so her record suffered no permanent damage as long as she successfully completed a course in anger management.  I didn't wait to see how she did, deciding instead to move to the UK to seek civilized society.

 There's irony everywhere these days.

If you like to ride up through the endowment lands to the University campus up on the hill, there are any number of routes you can take, many of them with two lanes of traffic and painted bike lanes, too.  If you are heading up the hill to UBC from 4th avenue, you will eventually come to a fork in the road whereby you can take the thoroughfare if you choose to go straight on up the hill as the crow flies, or you can take the scenic route, the seaside bypass.

That invisible sign there says Seaside Bypass, and it has a bicycle on it, too.

So the other day I took the bypass, as I often do.  By the time you arrive at this junction, you have climbed a little way up the hill toward campus, but if you take the bypass, you are headed straight back down to sea-level before you climb again.  And just before the hill gets steep, the road becomes in practice quite narrow.  There is a parking lane on the right side of the road, and it is very rough and bumpy, so if you are on a road bike headed down the hill, you need to ride in the middle of the road.

Cars hate that.

But honestly, it's a steep hill, so a bike going down it goes pretty fast.
Faster than the speed limit for the bottom third of the hill and around the corner, where it's 
30 km/hr, or 19 mph:

You can tell that's the speed limit because there are these yellow signs all over the place with the number 30 on them.  Except for here, where the sign says 20:

And it was exactly there, where the cyclist is in that photo, that a driver nearly forced me off the road the other day. She passed me within inches of my shoulder and then carried on another couple of blocks before she pulled over at the beach and parked here:

I was surprised to see her stop and mess about with her phone for a couple of minutes.  The way she was driving, you'd think there was some kind of emergency.  So I stopped, too, and I waited.  When she did open her door, she was very surprised to see me.  I was curious when I stopped, because I always wonder what goes through people's mind when they drive close enough to my bike to hurt me.  So I politely asked her why she passed me on the corner the way she did.  

Her reply blew me away.  She said "Bikes are supposed to pull over for cars."

Fuck.  Me.

I asked how she could hold a licence without actually understanding the rules of the road.  I pointed out to her that I am always allowed half a lane, and when I am going the speed of traffic (or indeed speeding as I was when she was trying to overtake me) then I am allowed a full lane.

She didn't believe me.

Now, back around the time when I first began publishing this blog, I referred to myself as a mad mutard, to which one kind reader took exception.  And I will acknowledge that it makes people squirm for valid reasons. This week, Snob said:

Wow.  Politically correct-minded people are working to abolish the word "retard" as an insult, but the fact is that language is evolving, and I feel strongly that we should preserve the word as a slur but apply it exclusively to motorists.  Because if you've got a better word for a woman who hits a cyclist and then Tweets about it then I'd like to hear it.

And the truth of the matter is that the word is offensive.  That's why I would like to nominate the woman who nearly nailed me a cartard.  

That expression "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...."
doesn't really apply to cars who sideswipe you.
Besides, I'm already strong enough.

Every day I try to be better than I was the day before.
That's why I'm climbing hills these days, to be better.

Seems to be working, too.  The hills are getting a little easier day by day, and I'm getting faster at climbing them.  And as a bonus, a silver lining if you will, all the heartbreak and hills have turned my ass into a lean, mean pumping machine. 

It may not be the hottest ass in the universe, but it's mine and I want to protect it from cartards who hate too much.  It's high time we designed our roadways to protect the most vulnerable road users, and it seems a good place to start is a public SAVE YOUR ASS FROM CARS THAT PASS education campaign.

This is just madness.


  1. Welcome back!
    Great post.

  2. These encounters always seem to be repeated and we never make any progress in driver education (nor do they show any remorse, regret or understanding. Too defensive). Perhaps one day the long awaited sea change will occur. Thanks for blogging and may you and your ass ride safely. Grazie e ciao.

    1. That's why it's so important to encourage other people out onto their bikes, too. The more of us there are out there, the more people will become aware of the safe sharing of roads.

      It's the whole 100th monkey thing, right? Once enough of us agree upon something, change is instant and universal.

  3. Maybe it's the nature of riding into and out of Manhattan on a daily basis, but I've become pretty used to the occasional car pass in the < 1 foot range. Maybe it's also that most NYC drivers are starting to get used to riding in close proximity to large amounts of bicycles. I have to say though once in a while I still get taken aback by stories of near misses and of course direct hits.

    Also, as my old uncle would've said, 'nice tuchus'.

    1. I'm confident holding my line in heavy traffic, too. It was the way she deliberately crowded me off the road which annoyed me, and then her insistence that she had the right to do it which astounded and amazed me...

    2. And my tuchus thanks you. I still want to know how I managed to drop a dress size and put on ten pounds without really eating much.

  4. ummm... it seems like you are in need of a photographer, babs, to shoot your bum... how do i apply for the job?

    1. Please send relevant samples of your portfolio to my email address.

  5. *sigh* I am a nice sharing and caring woman, but sometimes I wish we were able to bitch slap idiots with impunity. Like the woman who nearly t-boned my delightful and highly valued spouse by doing the old pass and turn across maneuver, and then exclaimed when confronted, "well, you were ON THE ROAD!" Die, die all you idiots, and if you won't die then please don't breed. Ride safe sweetie.

    1. You're beautiful. Thank you, Dee.

      Yes. I am trying to model the appropriate expression of anger to my son, hoping I can fake it till I make it, but some people test my limits.

      When I asked her how the hell she got a license without understanding the basic rules of the road, I think I scared her, but I'm not sorry. Maybe she'll remember this time..

  6.'d think as cyclists, we'd be exalted for all the right reasons rather than being reduced to second class citizens on the road...
    ...i say that as both a lo-o-o-ng time cyclist & as a driver...

    ...i'll also suggest that - "share the road" - is literally a two way street whereas some cyclists assume it's a blanket policy to cover their idiotic behavior...

    ...nice bum, mum...