Up against the wall!

It’s common to hear drivers complain about bicyclists darting in and out of traffic, never obeying traffic signals, and so on. I suppose that’s true in the downtown business sections of big cities, where bike messengers are, in effect, paid to break the law. But out here in the suburbs, apart from a few weekend warriors who refuse to ride single-file (and whose greatest offense is their tendency to wear garish jerseys advertising Italian beer), it’s drivers who are the idiots on the road.

How can I make such a sweeping statement? I commute by bike 8 months out of the year, riding 15-20 miles a day, mostly on dedicated bike paths that run parallel to the local roads. I see a lot of traffic; more than a driver taking my route would see because I’m out there longer. And the comparison isn’t close—drivers are far and away more likely to disobey the rules of the road.

The jerk who inspired the tweet above was unusual only in that he deliberately cut me off, speeding up so he could beat me to an intersection and turn right in front of me. I knew he was going to do it, so I slowed down—if I hadn’t, he would have creamed me because he, like most drivers, had not mastered the elementary physics of time, distance, and speed.

(It would be unseemly for me to mention the undoubtedly microscopic penis of a man who feels the need to race his truck against a bicycle, so I won’t.)

The thing is, I get cut off by a car or truck every day. I am not exaggerating. Every fucking day at least one idiot drives across my path at an intersection where I have the right of way. How do they miss a 6-foot, 190-pound object with a bicycle, standing there waiting to cross?

  1. They are talking on the phone.
  2. They are looking in another direction—yes, that’s right, not looking in the direction their 2-ton vehicle is traveling.
  3. They are talking on the phone.
  4. They are applying makeup (usually applies to women only).
  5. They are eating (usually applies to men only).
  6. They are talking on the phone.
  7. They are drinking an elaborate Starbucks creation and talking about it on the phone.

I’d gotten so used to being cut off by inattentive drivers, it barely registered with me; just part of the day.1 But I’m starting to get more militant about it. When drivers roll past me without looking, I yell at them like some Wobblie in Bughouse Square yelling about the evils of capitalism.

And when the revolution comes, the drivers will be the first up against the wall.


  1. One of my favorite scenes in The Maltese Falcon is when Sam Spade is first digging through the layers of Brigid O’Shaughnessy’s deceit: “Of course you lied to us about your sister and all, but that doesn’t count; we didn’t believe you.” Similarly, I wasn’t bothered by drivers ignoring me and my right of way; I didn’t expect them to pay attention.