Archive for the ‘Road Rage Chronicles’ Category

Apparently you need a reminder…
August 18, 2011

When turning left at a green light but not a green arrow, you have to yield to oncoming traffic. It is the law.

It doesn’t matter if there’s a long line of cars you’ll have to wait for, if you’re in a hurry, or if you think the cyclist will be too slow. You have to yield.


Before you yell, you better be right!
February 15, 2011

Over the past four days, we’ve had a few run-ins with cars where they were totally in the wrong, and yet, proceeded to blame us, citing what we should have done. In SF, I’ve never had this much blame for when a simple “my bad” or “sorry” would have done; but to turn it around and blame us? Sorry but YOU ARE WRONG.

Instance #1

Location: SE Stark and 29th.
Time: Saturday night.
Bikes: Cruising with the flow of traffic west down SE Stark Street coming up to 29th Ave on the right.
Car: backing up INTO traffic on Stark from 29th Ave. He does this rapidly so me and my girlfriend have to slam on our squeaky wet brakes (which probably saved our lives, note to self: get bell or horn).

He yells from his car: “You should put lights on the front of your bikes!” FACT: we had lights on our bikes, one of them was brand new and super bright. Regardless of our bike status, he was back up his car INTO the intersection of a crowded street on a busy night. He was being unsafe and we had the right of way.

Verdict: Car = WRONG.

Instance #2

Location: NE Tillamook Ave. and 17th Ave.
Time: Sunday afternoon, overcast.
Bikes: We were riding our bikes east along Tillamook (a known bike route) when we come up to a STOP sign.
Car: Cross Tillamook at the intersection but didn’t have a stop sign and therefore the right of way.

We stop and he stops and waves us through, giving up his right of way. We have a special pet-peeve about this because it distrupts the flow of traffic and generates a feeling that cyclists need to get special care like an old lady crossing the road or something. So we reject the wave through, calling attention to the fact that they do not, in fact, have to stop. He continues to wave us through and points to the mobile phone he is currently using as if to say, it’s cool, I’m on the phone anyway. Phone use while driving (even sitting at a stop) has been illegal in Oregon for over a year. We yell for him to hang up his phone and continue down the street.

Verdict: Car = DUMB. Also, WRONG.

Instance #3

Location: N Williams and N Thompson Ave.
Time: Just now! (Tuesday, 3:30pm, drizzly).
Bikes: I am riding north on N Williams in the bike lane.
Car: turning right onto N Williams from N Thompson.

He juts out into the bike lane right in front of me and I brake and they squeak so he stops and I just go around. At this point, this happens all the time so I don’t even really care. But he makes his right after I pass and rolls his window down and shouts out: “I had the right of way!” I yell back that actually no he did not and that he was wrong. He yelled some more and rolled his window and drove away. Sorry, but again, turning right onto a cross street never has the right of way over the cross street’s traffic.

Verdict: Car = SO WRONG.


Road Rage Chronicles: Bucketseat Law Enforement
March 24, 2009

Since moving to Portland, a city known for the high bicycling population, I’ve notice two or three times where someone sitting in a parked car will honk at me. The first one happened out of no where and I didn’t even notice it was a parked car until I realized there were no cars on the road. The second and third I began looking for these “bucketseat law enforcers.”

It usually happens when I come up to a red light, stop and realize it’s safe to go and then I “run” the red light. This is, actually, against the law, however, it is a common thing cyclists do in most any city. In fact, it’s so common that Portland is considering changing the laws to make stop lights, stop signs, and stop signs into yields for cyclists. SF is also considering this. And apparently Idaho has been this way for years.

But back to the story. So I proceed to go through the red light and this guy in a parked car on the corner honks at me. He’s got an angry look on his face. He must really hate that I did that. He probably really gets angry at gay marriage too. I find the whole thing pretty hilarious. 1) honking is not a good way to make a point. It’s too broad and it’s hard to even tell why someone is honking at you. Were you just married, or are you in their way? 2) Honking from a parked car is completely asinine and pointless.

Next time I think I’ll just go up to the car and ask them.

Road Rage Chronicles: “Stop at red lights!”
September 17, 2008

It finally happened… almost.

I was riding my bike back home at 11pm on deserted Valencia Street when I lazily came upon a red light stoping no one. I did notice the car behind me slowing to a stop but only out of the corner of my eye. So, like most sensible cyclists, I slowly coasted throught the light.

Then I heard the annoying “error” sound that police cars make at you when you’re in the way or something. Yep, that car at the stop light with me? A cop! But while they buzzed at me, they didn’t run through the intersection to catch me. I began to slow down thinking that they’d want me to stop or worse, think I was trying to get away.

When they finally caught up (“This is it!” I thought), the 22 year old driver yelled out “Stop at red lights!” I said “OK.” and that was that.

Everyone knows that cyclists, at best, treat red lights like stop signs, especially in a timed-lights city like San Francisco, but what you certainly don’t do, is do it so brazingly in front of a cop car! I thought for sure I was going down just for that audacity but maybe they saw that I had a helmet on and used lights on my bike and thought I was pretty much an OK guy. At least… I like to think so.

Road Rage Chronicles: Stop-gap the scooter!
September 3, 2008

As gas prices soar, people are turning to alternatives to cars. This is great, but there’s bound to be fallout. Enter: the scooter.

Nothing really wrong with them: great gas mileage, compact size, easy to park. And while they are a “bike” of sorts, they require registration and licensing like a car, and they are powered like a car. Therefore, should they be allowed in the bike lane? No!

Today, on my way to work, I was riding up a heavy-use bike route with a bike lane in San Francisco. Several bikers and I (and cars!) all come to a stop light. Rather like the motorcycle last time, a scooter attempts to cut into the packed bike lane to cut in front of the cars (an implicity “right” enjoyed by motorcycles). A middle-aged seasoned bicycle commuter thinks better than to let this happen and STOP GAPS the scooter; placing herself and bike perpendicular in front of the scooter. She lectures him on the proper use of the bike lane, his comments barely audible through his helmet. Suffice to say, when the light turned green he sped past us reving up his little engine in the usual motorized display of rage (which also burns valuable fuel!).

On Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are a luxury and a little one at that. Sometimes I don’t like them because they falsely give car drivers the impression that bikes MUST use the bike lane. This leads to confusion when a biker passes others using the right line (to the left of the bike lane), and when there is no bike lane on a road, a cyclists takes the lane. That being said, what little strip of a lane we got, especially during commute hours to be usurped by drivers turning right and motorcycles and scooters pretending they’re bikes is unacceptable. So, kudos to you, fellow commuter, for taking action!

Trash-talking motorcyclist in the bicycle lane
August 21, 2008

What a morning!

First, a large re-appropriated Crown Victoria literally drifts into the bike lane — cutting me off. I’m close enough behind to see the driver has his cell phone in his right hand held below the dashboard so he can slyly text — and apparently drive on the sly. I make may around and notice his window is open. So I yell one of my favorite epithets,

“Hey, why don’t you try driving!”

To which he replies something inaudible but probably nasty.

Second, I continue along my way and I’m almost to work as I come up to a stop light. There’s a motorcycle ahead of me and in the main lane. As traffic slows, he dashes out into the bike lane in order to go around the car and get to the front — a common motorcycle move. The only problem is that I happen to be coming up that very bike lane and the motorcyclist didn’t signal nor take the time to check his blind-spot before changing lanes. Granted, we were all going pretty slow at least point so there was no real danger since I’m good at what I do, but as I pulled up around him, I gave him a look and shook my head.

That’s when he began to just swear at me. Over and over. I tried to tell him it was his wrong to almost hit me in the bike lane. Light turns green and he PACES me up the road to yell at me some more. Calling me stupid, ugly, anything he can think of… I told him I can’t talk to him if he’s going to just yell at me and I pulled off to my work.

Why can’t anyone just admit they’re wrong anymore? I make mistakes a lot when I’m biking. Buzzing pedestrians sometimes, or failing to yield to cars and other cyclists and I usually shout out a “Sorry!” or some such. I don’t immediately find fault with the offended person and begin barraging them with insults.

Whatever happened to this interchange?

“Oops! My bad.”

“It’s all good, bro!”

And life goes on…