Shared Commute

I’m a creature of habit, I take the same route to work every day along with many others. I recognize many people on my commute. There’s the girl with the gold helmet, her guy friend who wears plaid shirts exclusively. There’s the middle-aged woman with the very large panniers who always dresses for rain. There’s the girl with a straw-basket-bag rigged as a back pack. There’s the girl with the old rust-orange bike who always insists in biking faster than me no matter what. Of course these are all bicyclists.

I’ve always suspected I’m biking alongside the same drivers everyday too. But it’s hard to tell since cars are pretty anonymous looking. Only the unusual cars ones stand out. Or the dangerous ones.

One day last May I was riding home in the rain. Because of the weather, the crazy traffic, the door zone, and the collective mood of the street I didn’t feel comfortable filtering and wanted to stay as visible as possible. Even if it was slower. So I took the lane.

Shared Commute

I ignored it. They always honk. But then:

Shared Commute

I tried to ignore her. Yelling is just honking but with words.

But she was wrong and I couldn’t hold back. I started to give a well-researched explanation about road rules. She rolled up her window fast and…

Shared Commute

…used her car to forcibly pass my in the left half of the lane.

I was pretty shaken. The light changed immediately after and she wove through the dense traffic. I never got a plate and I regretted it. Even if I had, I didn’t know if I could do anything with it since I was not physically injured.

But like me, she apparently is a creature of habit. Because 10 months later…

Shared Commute

…which gives me a small bit of satisfaction. There may not be anything I can do but now I’m even more researched and know that I have a right to file a police report for aggressive driving if something like this happens again.

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61 Comments on "Shared Commute"


Blume
March 22, 2012

I recognize many people on my commute.

I’ve started going to work a bit earlier recently (walking, because it’s only half a mile), and I often see you! (Hope that isn’t creepy feeling for you, that you’re recognized.)

March 23, 2012

Nope, not at all. I’d say to say hi but I’m probably faster on bike. I say ‘probably because’ if it’s before 10am I may be zombie-biking (the very slow biking that happens pre-coffee where every muscle hurts and you can’t remember what it’s like to have energy.) When I zombie-bike I might as well be a pedestrian.

Petter
March 22, 2012

The gender perspective is interesting. I’ve been in three incidents with cardrivers here in sweden (one was a minor accident the two others just felt dangerous), all of them with male drivers.

It’s a very good idea to learn your local rules _before_ something happens. Here in Sweden for instance you have a right to see the other persons driving license if you believe he has done something illegal towards you. If he/she refuses you are allowed to try to stop him/her.

cycler
March 22, 2012

I wonder if the rain brings out the massholes, or if it’s just that everyone else tries not to drive :)

It’s funny, I had a conversation with some friends at work about the people we see every day, and how we know if we’re running late or early based on the faces we see. Interestingly they noted that they probably see the same cars every day, but they’ve never recognized them, only the people walking or riding.

I’d say my interactions with bad drivers are pretty split along gender lines, with a slight male bias.
Glad you’re OK and that you got her plate :)

cycler
March 22, 2012

Oh, and this morning a van pulled up in the left lane and the passenger rolled down her window to ask me a question about my bike. I don’t ever remember seeing her before, but she said “I see you every day- your helmet is so recognizable- I love it”

Phil Lindsay
March 22, 2012

I carry Mass Bikes Same Roads Same Rights plastic give away piece for just such situations. Typically I give one or two out a month and it would be more if I could get to all the cars that deserve one. Related to the gender question, we find no extraordinary difference in who yells and does bad stuff. That said, typically the most reactionary are woman on cell phones while men in HUGE pick ups come in a close second. “Get on the sidewalk” is what I hear most from men and “F-U” is what I get most from the cell-distracted females.

n
March 22, 2012

having something that explains the law to hand to them instead of talking is a great idea! I want to start doing that too!

Ben
March 22, 2012

I had this happen to me once where there was a car-width median and the car actually pulled up next to me, in the median, at a light so they wouldn’t have to be behind me, then pushed me into the car to my right (I was in the left lane, legally) as they left. I attempted to file a hit and run report, but the officer spent the entire time lecturing me about being in the left lane and then never even filed the report. Gotta love the Columbus Police Department.

 
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