High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels


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Two Blondes Get Into a Taxi…

Now that I’ve sucked you in with the promise if a great blonde joke, I have to confess that there is no funny punchline in this post. Back in July I posted about a guy who I refer to as “dickweed” who had harassed me on two separate occasions while I rode on Pacific Street. He followed me for a bit, honking his horn and sped past me perilously close. It was unnerving, infuriating, and confusing, leaving me to ponder the question as to what drives someone to that level of irrational and dangerous behavior for absolutely no reason, other than the fact that I was riding my bike on the same road. My experience with dickweed is pretty much an anomaly here in Bellingham but in other parts of the country that behavior is all too common. In fact, with the exception of the Netherlands where cycling is simply an everyday part of life, irrational aversion to cyclists seems, sadly, to be rather universal.

In New York City, ranked somewhat ironically the 7th most bicycle friendly city in the country, cyclists not only have to put up with a city full of dickweeds (or worse) and a police force notoriously unfriendly and even hostile towards cyclists, a cabbie recently got into an argument with a cyclist who wastaxi-accident just trying to ride in the bike lane, tried to run him down but instead jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and severed the leg of a British tourist. He wasn’t cited at the scene except for some obscure taxi law because in New York, if a cyclist is involved, it’s almost always their fault. Fortunately, there is some good news here as prosecutors are now investigating. It will remain to be seen whether the cabbie is actually indicted. The way things are in New York, though, it wouldn’t surprise me if the cyclist ends up being charged.

Speaking of Britain, they have their own special breed of bicycle haters. Back in May, a young woman, Emma Way (one of the blondes), from Norwich, England, hit a cyclist and fled without stopping. According to the cyclist, Emma veered over to his side of the road and almost took out the cyclist in front him before striking him hard enough to break off her side mirror and knock him off his bike, sending him crashing into a hedge. As bad as that was, it isn’t what imagemakes this a story. It’s what Emma did after her hit and run. Thinking this was all in good fun, Emma tweeted the following:

To no one’s surprise but Emma’s (she claims she thought only her friends would see them), her tweets went viral and the hue and cry against her was enormous. Someone who should get an award for responsible behavior actually sent the tweets to the police. That landed Emma’s psychopathic bum in serious trouble and somewhat restored my faith in humanity. Emma is now facing charges of driving with undue care. (Only the British can make an assault with a vehicle sound polite.) Emma’s now somewhat of a pariah. She will more than likely lose her job, if she hasn’t already. She is very, very sorry…for herself. (Check out this YouTube clip.) Oh yeah…and for the tweets.

Then there’s Daisy Abela–the other blonde–who also thinks committing a hit and run of a cyclist tweet-worthy. She used Twitter to boast that she was driving while (actually I think it’s “whilst”) ‘still drunk’ and hit a cyclist after having an argument with him.

Her tweets about the incident:

Daisy Bela TweetsAfter a barrage of backlash tweets and being reported to the police, Daisy apologized, said it was just a joke, and then closed down her Twitter account. The police investigated but as of yet no cyclist has come forward to say he was the victim. She may have been joking in which case, not funny…not even remotely… or she actually did hit someone. The idea of this sadistic little twit getting away with committing an assault by vehicle is just too depressing to think about.

The one thing I come away from all this with, other than that a lot of people out there are in serious need of therapy, is that I’m even more happy to live in a city where most of the drivers are polite or at the very least accepting of bicycles. I mean, this trio makes dickweed look like a choirboy. You know what? I’m feeling a little guilty about there being no joke in this post so I will close with one of my husband’s favorite blonde jokes…no offense to all my blonde friends out there.

Two Blondes are riding a tandem bike. All of a sudden the one on the back yells, “Stop,” and gets off and lets the air out of the back tire. Front Blonde says, “Why did you do that?” The other replies, “Because my seat was too high and it was uncomfortable.”
So front Blonde gets off the bike, loosens up the handlebars, and turns them around 180-Degrees. Back Blonde says, “Now why did you do that?” And front Blonde replies, “Because if you’re just going to just do stupid stuff I’m going home.”

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Butt Boils, Smoke Monsters, and Standing My Ground

Pacific AvenueOne of the many things I love about being on my bike is the imaginative free-for-all that takes place in my brain. (Read my post about the Smoke Monster. See below.) But sometimes I have to give it a rest deal with a real threat. Instead of the Smoke Monster from “Lost” haunting me along the trails, it’s some dickweed with a long, stringy pony tail in an old, beat up, dark, mini-pick-up filled with what looks like the paraphernalia of a handy man. Evidently, he haunts Pacific Avenue because twice now this summer this jerk of all trades has for no apparent reason — other than he must really hate bicyclists — harassed me while I’ve been riding.

Pacific Avenue between Iowa and Alabama is a two-lane road that is wide enough to accommodate parked cars, cyclists, and moving cars. I ride far enough to the right to be as out of the way of motor traffic as I can but far enough away from the parked cars to avoid the risk of being “doored.” In other words, it’s right where a bike lane would be — if there were a bike lane. Visibility on this section of the street is excellent, allowing drivers to easily see a rider, particularly one wearing a bright orange vest. And they can safely pass without any trouble.

But this dumb ass in the pick-up, which by the way is probably worth less than my bike, apparently leads such a pathetic life that the sight of a cyclist on the same road fills him with a blinding rage. He sees no other way to assuDickweedage his anger than to follow behind a cyclist (me) honking his horn and then zooming past perilously close with his middle finger extended.

The Smoke Monster at least had an excuse to be crazy. Try being trapped on a weird-ass island for hundreds of years as its protector. You’re dead and all you want is to take over another body so you can just get off the friggin’ island. Anyway, I don’t know if dickweed expects me to ram myself into a parked car to get out of his way or if he thinks I’ll wither at his abuse and ride on the sidewalk. But my guess is that he’s just a bully and a miserable human being. Maybe some Fred ran off with his wife.

Dirty HarryI don’t take it personally. I’m sure he behaves as badly with other cyclists as he does with me. Although a part of me would like to whip out a .357 magnum and go all Dirty Harry on his ass, that’s just my imagination escaping its cage. Besides, I don’t think the Stand Your Ground rule would apply, shame though that is. Fortunately, he is an aberration in this town — a boil on the butt of a bike-friendly community where drivers who are considerate and accommodating outnumber guys like this by…a lot. So I just have to content myself with a little silent name-calling (I’m sure to respond verbally to him would just further aggravate his road rage) and continue to ride where I want.


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Letter Writer Poops on Cyclists

There was a letter to the editor in today’s Bellingham Herald protesting the upcoming plastic bag ban, blasting the city council for “trying to shove the green agenda down our throats.” In a rant that rambles from the bag ban to coal trains, he ends his tirade by asking all pet owners to empty doggie poo bags into the “special” bicycle lanes that run through our city as a show of protest, saying that “The greenies ought to appreciate a little fertilizer.”
Sheesh! I’m just riding my bike because it’s fun. I’m not trying to make any sort of political statement. And if I can use my car less because of it, that’s just icing on an already delicious cupcake. But in this guy’s fevered mind, all cyclists are “greenies” and therefore, somehow deserve to bear the brunt of the anti-plastic bag ban crowd’s wrath. Really? His reasoning gives me a brain cramp. And it’s that mindset that makes me leery of biking on the roads, “special” lane or no, and extremely cautious when I do end up riding the streets.
The ranting lunacy of this letter almost makes you want to relegate the author to the rank of complete whack job, which he very well might be, and simply write him off. Nonetheless, it is simply another example of the irrational loathing many people have for bicyclists who share roads and trails. (See my earlier post, “Biker Has a Bell”.)

If these folks just took a minute to think beyond their own selfishness, they’d realize that the more people take to the roads with their bikes, the less traffic there is for those who don’t. It doesn’t even matter whether they’re doing it for “green” reasons or not. Personally, I don’t consider myself a greenie even though I believe in being environmentally responsible. I think the bag ban is a good idea. I also strongly believe that not everyone can or should ride a bike but those of us who do deserve a safe environment to do so. Do I deserve to ride through streets of dog crap because of it? I hardly think so.


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Biker Has a Bell

I Love My Bike Bell
One of the reasons I decided to get a mountain bike as opposed to a road bike is the fact that I want to stay off the roads as much as possible. Fortunately, with the trail system in our wonderful city I can eliminate a lot of road travel even when I’m commuting. When I had my road bike years ago, I quickly tired and became extremely wary of motorists who, to put it mildly, didn’t like to share the road. Then there were the complete wackos who considered it a sport to see how close they could drive by a cyclist without actually hitting them. They are probably the same people who enjoyed pulling the wings off of flies when they were kids. Seriously what is it about a bicycle that makes people lose their minds?
I remember having a conversation not terribly long ago with a woman who told me she “hated…absolutely hated” cyclists. When I asked her why she told me she felt they weren’t entitled to share the road (despite laws dictating otherwise) because they weren’t licensed and therefore weren’t paying their fair share of taxes. “I’m paying for the road and they’re not,” she said anger punctuating every word, “so they don’t belong there and they deserve it if they get side swiped or hit.” I can’t even repeat what she said about cyclists who blow through stop signs or lights. (If you’re a cyclist who does this, you don’t help the cause one bit.) There were so many kinds of wrong with her way of thinking that all I could do was walk away. She’s definitely on the bat guano insane end of the spectrum, but anti-bicycle sentiment can be rather innocuous as well.
Just the other day, on my second ride with my new bike, I was on the trail at the same time a “Girls on the Run” race was finishing up. There were a lot of young people on the trail and so I slowed down accordingly. About 50 yards ahead of me were a group of kids and an adult woman heading my way taking up the entire width of the trail. There was no way they didn’t see me. As I got closer, I shouted that I was hanging to the right but nobody budged. I slowed down to a crawl. This time I shouted, “Excuse me,” but even though they were looking right at me, I had to stop as the kids milled around me taking their sweet time moving on. As the throng cleared out, I pushed off only to hear a snide, condescending, “Biker needs a bell” from the adult. Really? Yes, I know they had the right of way and I acted accordingly.  I also made darn sure I was polite and accommodating throughout the convergence. Fortunately, this little altercation was an aberration. Trail users here in Bellingham are normally quite civilized, friendly, and respectful of each other.
Biker has her bell now and she plans to use it. Ching-ching!