14 February 2011

Why Me......or Maybe.....Why NOT Me?

I wonder what it is in some people's psyche that causes them to choose to be aggressively mean instead of just going on about their day.

I'm riding along peacefully in a 8' wide bike lane along Alaskan Way. There is a single lane northbound, single lane south bound and center left turn lane. One of our wonderful "road diet" throughways in Seattle that is one of the most used cycling commute routes from West Seattle and the south end into downtown along the waterfront. Of course, being along our waterfront, it is also the main north/south corridor for all of the container traffic coming from the rail yards in the south end to the large container ships at the south end of downtown. The City has spend a bit of time and expense the past couple years making it better, but there are two long puddles that parallel the street when it rains, caused by the heavy truck traffic. Now, most of the time this is no problem. Everybody simply moves a little bit to the left as they come alongside a bike so as not to drown the cyclist. It all works very well, especially early in the morning when there's not much southbound traffic and rarely anybody in the center turn lane.

But every once in a while, there's that one guy who just HAS to aim right at the puddle, timing it just right so that he totally inundates the cyclist he's riding past. Am I paranoid? Do I think they're all out to get me? Not hardly. I know better. Well over 99% of the vehicles I deal with any given day are courteous, friendly, cautious and respectful. But then there's that rare individual.....

This morning was a really classic example. Fortunately, I'd dressed in full battle gear. I've left the light at Hanford and am headed northbound. Then there was a whole line of cars and trucks coming up from behind. I've placed myself as far to the right as I safely can in the bike lane. First up were a couple of container haulers. Then a concrete truck followed by a white school bus (prison bus on its way to the courthouse) I see frequently. Each of these vehicles moved cautiously out and to the left. It doesn't take much, not over a foot. But then there is a big ol' Chevy pickup. One of those raised up ones with big tires and loud diesel smokestack kinda pipes that get used sometimes to "fog" me. Well, this guy wasn't moving anywhere to the left. Even though four vehicles immediately in front of him managed to. Maybe it is my imagination, but he seemed to slow just a little bit, then romped on the accelerator as he went by me, hitting that puddle full on and managing to send a cascade of water fully engulfing me in his wake.

And as I rode on down the street, fussing and fuming about this dickhead, all I could do was be grateful that he hadn't hit me with his mirror.


mimi torchia boothby watercolors said...

He'll probably enjoy telling the story tonight to his friends at the bar! I'm sorry the jerk did that to you.

louise said...

I was on a ride near Snoqualmie Falls and a guy came by in his big ol' truck, splashing the contents of a puddle on me. He stopped further up the road and as I approached, he got out of his truck and began to apologize.

He was really, really sorry about splashing me, it was coincidental, not intentional. He wished me a good ride.

That doesn't happen all the time and of course it helps when you're curvy and wearing a pink jersey, but it did a lot to dispel preconceived ideas I had about big ol' trucks.

mimi said...

It really saddens me when your serene ride into work is spoiled by some jackass. I wonder how he'd feel if someone did that to his grandmother..

CurioRando said...

I can feel the cold water running down the back of my neck...Yuk! I haven't ridden that in a while, used to from West Seattle alot years ago. It was pretty scary, pretty regularly.

Sue said...

You're right RD about 99% of people are nice but there's that 1% that are not quite right in the head. I had a terrible experience about 2 or 3 years ago. I was riding alone doing an after work ride in May. I was cycling down Sumner Buckley Hwy from Bonney Lake to Buckely. It's two way on a county chip sealed road. No shoulder but most drivers pull over about a foot when passing. Then there was this pickup coming up. I saw him in my mirror, he passed pulled onto the shoulder right in front of me, gunned his engine and sprayed me with gravel then hauled out fast. I told my husband and he was furious. He didn't want me riding alone anymore but of course I still do. The area has a lot of "Hilly Billy" idiots. But that was the worst of all my encounters and I will never forget it.