My wife and I were out on a ride close to home the other day, when I saw it coming. I was in the bike lane of a four-lane divided thoroughfare through our neighborhood. It swoops in a shallow curving downhill past an upscale strip mall. As I approached the entrance to the mall, I could see a pickup truck in the oncoming left turn lane, ready to turn right in front of me.
He had his turn signal on, and he was stopped. But my internal alarm system was clanging away: “Better brake! Better slow! This guy is going to turn right in front of you!”
He did. I squeezed my brake levers hard, and slowed enough to let him pass across my path just before I reached the mall entrance.
Come on, man. I had the right of way. You were making a left turn. Oh, that’s right. Your four-wheel drive pickup is jacked up so high, you intimidate other pickups, not to mention regular cars, and most of all, cyclists. And you’re right. I’m not going to exercise my right of way if it means I’ll wind up getting smeared all across the bike lane, mall entrance, parking lot, etc.
When my wife caught up to me, she said, “That was pretty close.”
“You know,” I replied, I don’t mind if a car or truck turns in front of me, as long as I don’t have to slow down. But when I have to brake like that, it means he’s just being a jerk.”
We continued our ride, and turned onto the Mopac expressway extension. Reaching the turnaround point there is always a good feeling, because we have a slight decline on the way back, and can get up to some decent speeds. I surged ahead of Pat.
As I approached the entrance to a nice residential area, I eased the bike into the left half of the shoulder. I always do that in the hope that anyone turning into the neighborhood will slow and pull into the right turn lane behind me. That’s a whole lot better than them passing you, slowing quickly, then making a right turn cross my path. This time, I heard a loud air horn behind me.
I glanced over my shoulder, and saw another jacked-up pickup gaining on me. It had blown its horn when it pulled even with Pat. Now it was my turn. He got right next to me, and didn’t ease left to give me a little more room. Instead, he stayed planted where he was, and let go with his air horn again. The loud noise was jarring, but I expected it after what he had pulled before, so it didn’t startle me.
Farther ahead, two cyclists were trading pulls and making better time than I was. I could see what was going to happen. Sure enough, the bozo blasted his air horn again — two blasts, apparently one for each cyclist. They weren’t startled either.
I guess he would have been really entertained if one of us freaked out when he blew his horn, and started to swerve, maybe lose control — maybe even fall at speed along a highway where most traffic moved at 65 mph. Jerk.
The only time I get that from cars is when I’m passed by a car full of high school boys. That’s not a problem, since I was once a high school boy (eons ago), and I know they’re jerks by nature. It’s the grownups in the pickups that really bug me. There must be something in the exhaust from a six-foot off-the-ground four-wheel drive pickup that has tractor-tread tires about five feet in diameter that affects the brain.
I don’t own a pickup myself, although I’ve driven them when I’ve needed their convenient carrying capacity to move furniture, appliances, and other bulky items. So I’m not anti-pickup. But two incidents within a half hour of each other on the same day is a bit much for me. I just can’t understand why the highboys are mostly driven by jerks out to aggravate others — especially cyclists — on the roads.
I’d have climbed in his window and have gotten ugly…. What an ass! In seriousess though, next time call in his license plate. That’s so dangerous for you. Some jerk honked at us riding last night and I made sure he got a good and proper salute as he passed…
Bike Noob says
Yes, both of them received my salute as well. The single digit kind.
I had a guy tell me once that he honked so the cyclists could get off the road, out of his way. I treated it as a teachable moment, to let him know, as politely as I could, that he shouldn’t expect bikes to pull off the roadway just because he honked his horn, and that bikes had a legal right to be on the road too.
What I kinda hate is when the Car Full O’ Boys ™ thinks it’s funny to SCREAM out the window as they pass. Morons. I’ll give a pass to the dogs that bark, because, well, dogs.
Bike Noob says
Screaming boys must affect only attractive females.
Al Scher says
Bike Noob says
Good stuff, Al. Good to hear from you again.
Do you feel a little better about the two incidents by writing about them? I bet you do. 🙂
Bike Noob says
Yes. I try not to grouse too much on this blog, but two incidents with a half hour really bugged me.
At the end of a group ride about a week ago, I was riding along side-by-side with a fellow rider on a recumbent on a fairly quiet road. Behind us we heard somebody coming up and letting loose with the horn. Before he even began to move over, my buddy on the recumbent reached back and flicked on his GoPro camera, which was pointed backward, then made a show of pointing to it. Lo and behold the car waited, then passed without a word, giving us plenty of space. My friend says he does it all the time, and gets a similar reaction.
I also get a kick out of it when kids yell out the window at you…then for some reason have that same window rolled up when they get stuck at the next stop light and you pull alongside their car.
Mark Benson says
Anytime a motorist gets rude with me, I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw when I was a good bit younger. It was a Disney cartoon, featuring Goofy as a kind-hearted pedestrian named Mr. Walker who transformed into the sinister Mr. Wheeler any time he got into his automobile. Although this cartoon is over 60 years old, the relevance of the story to modern society has not changed one iota. If by chance you haven’t seen this cinematic gem, it can be found on YouTube, search Goofy Motor Mania.
One thing I’ve noticed about people in general is this: People in groups and people behind the wheel tend to act much differently than they would otherwise.
Bike Noob says
Yep. I once did a post along those lines. https://bikenoob.mystagingwebsite.com/2011/03/08/do-you-adopt-a-car-mentality-behind-the-wheel/