Bike: 0, Car: 1

Tonight I had another “adverse interaction” with a vehicle. Tonight, it was a car coming up a hill, negotiating an “S” curve … on the wrong side of the road.

The incident occurred at a curious place in Vancouver geography: W 8th Ave turns a 90 degree corner and becomes W 8th Ave. This occurs on the Off-Broadway bike route in Point Grey. The car I encountered cut the S-Curve so tightly that she nearly brushed the opposite side curb. On the map above, the green highlighting is the bike route, the blue line is roughly my path coming down the hill, and the black line is the car coming up the hill. I encountered the car after turning the corner, and had no where to go.

I had to do some emergency braking, pulling my feet out of the cleats, full front and back brakes, heading towards the curb. I managed to come to a stop safely out of the way, but it was close: the car came close, and because of my momentum, the back of the bike came up off the ground and swung around.

And, as I’m apt to do, I yelled. It was mostly free of vulgarities. Mostly. But it was loud. I have, if I do say so myself, a reasonably impressive “outside” voice. The driver rolled down her window and gave that infuriating Vancouver-esque wave of the hand that always happens when a driver does something stupid (cutting you off, running a red light) and then drove off.

I got back on my bike and the was flagged down by an upset resident of a nearby house. “Why am I so angry?” wondered the resident. He was pissed. I explained that 3000 lbs of steel and glass nearly turned my 180 lbs of flesh and blood into road grime. He wasn’t very impressed. “Life’s too short to get so angry” he noted.

Too short? Damned straight it is. And an irresponsible driver nearly made mine even shorter.

People who don’t commute daily on a bike just don’t get it. When a motorist goes the wrong way on a street, through a roundabout, treats a roundabout like a chicane, blows a stop sign, when a motorist does these things and nearly hits a cyclist because of doing that, there’s no question who comes out on the wrong side of that. And these things *literally* happen multiple times a week for me.

It gets to you. It gets personal. Every time something like that happens, it is someone threatening me with a dangerous weapon, from the comfort and security of their box of steel.

It is frustrating.

So, I think I have a right to get angry. I think I have a right to yell. First of all, it feels good venting. Second, it brings attention to the incident and I hope brings embarrassment to the motorist. Because, frankly, there’s absolutely no consequence for a motorist who “safely” drives a cyclist off the road. And third, I hope it makes an impression on the motorist that what they did was stupid, and noted, and maybe … just *maybe* they won’t do it again.

So, I will continue to get angry. I will continue to yell. I might try to temper the language a bit (there was a child within hearing range today). I feel I have every right to do this.

But maybe I’m off base. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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  1. Sounds like an appropriate response to me. Like in Spider-man, great power (3000 lb metal box) requires great responsibility. I got an AirZound air horn though, and I find it more pleasant than yelling. But seriously it has become a very useful safety tool in Pt Grey and Kitsilano. A toot from it the moment I notice movement past the white line at a stop sign at a cross street always gets an immediate response. I don’t have to use it a lot, maybe once every week or two, but it really seems to do the trick.

  2. I want to begin by saying that I’m grateful to hear you weren’t hurt in this incident. Drivers really need to be beware of the surroundings. They need to close pay closer attention when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

    Be careful on the road because there’s an occasional idiot out there like this moron who clearly wasnt watching where he was going.

    • Chris on 2011/07/08 at 10:57 pm
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    You are 100% right to yell at the driver, and probably would have been in the right mind to turn some anger toward the resident for caring more about a tranquil neighbourhood than your life.

    • Lorraine Otto on 2011/07/09 at 6:45 am
    • Reply

    You would have so much adrenaline running through your system that yelling probably saved you from a stroke or heart attack. Your family needs you so yell as much as you need to get your system back in balance. It would have been much more intrusive to that neighbour to have fire, police and ambulance sirens blaring and much worse for children to see the result of car vs, bike then to hear the occasional off colour word. Stay safe.

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