Sometimes people are just too fucking nice, and I’m not going to trust anyone who waves and smiles at me like a psycho.
Especially if they are behind the wheel surrounded by 2000 pounds of metal and plastic, and I’ve got my balls outlined by my “cycling shorts” on my 14-pound carbon fiber bike.
This scenario doesn’t spill out on every ride, but it happens often enough. Usually at a marked crosswalk either without a light or with a green light for the cars.
I roll up, breathing hard and looking for safe passage. I won’t hit the bike signal and stop all the traffic unless I have to. I’m not an asshole.
There’s usually plenty of gaps in the morning, or late evening or weekends when I’m riding the canals and crossing these 6 lane roads with 50-mph speed limits.
Most of the time it’s fine. I wait a few seconds, go in the gap. Sometimes I have to hit the crossing button and make everybody stop for a full 30-seconds. I can cross in 5, and then they have to sit there for 25 seconds for nothing and throwing off the timing of all the other major crossings… they get stuck at the next light and the light after that. Sorry. I didn’t want to fuck you over like that.
Sometimes, I go half way and sit in the median or suicide lane to watch a few more cars pass, and then go.
But about once a week, some fucking Canadian or someone from Portland or someone who is just too old to fucking drive anymore… stops.
Now I have to decide, is this person just being nice or is this a murderous trap?
This could be a chance to get a bike in their crosshairs, gun the engine and run over one more colorful menace in lycra.
Don’t think that’s real? Ask my friend Jeff. He got hit by a car turning into a parking lot, and the driver told the cop, “I couldn’t wait to hit one of those bikers.” No ticket for her. A trip to the hospital for him.
So I try to make eye contact. Psycho or no? But Phoenix is home of the “Arizona tint.” A window shade so dark it’s illegal in other states. The dealers do it to new cars here without even asking. Without it, dashboards crack and brains fry in the summer sun.
Drivers forget and think you can see in the way they can see out. It’s a funhouse one-way mirror with a smokey accent.
I can detect movement. Are they waving me ahead or flipping me off? It’s just pissed off hands flying over the dash. Sometimes they remember and roll down a window, smile and wave. That’s even scarier, like a happy clown carrying a chainsaw.
Are they sitting still, or is the nose of the car inching forward? Does inching mean they want me to go NOW or are they itching to watch me roll across their hood?
Worse. There’s usually two or three lanes of traffic on each side. One car stopping, doesn’t mean shit. It just pisses off the people behind who often speed up and swerve around.
They wave me on. I stop and wave them on. 90 miles north of the border it’s a Mexican standoff. Unwanted “kindness” versus untrusting fear.
“Just go motherfucker,” I shout.
But of course they can’t hear me over the religious radio or right-wing rant these types play at 20 decibels higher than I can yell.
By that time, I’m usually halfway across the road. Protected by a curbed median if I’m lucky. Or stuck in the suicide lane or a left turn lane if I’m not.
If it’s a complete stop and no rolling tires, I usually give up and go. If this “nice” idiot doesn’t get me, a car behind me might. I standup and pedal hard. I put my head down, I don’t want to see the murder coming…
I spend the next 5 minutes pedaling and cussing and wishing people weren’t so fucking “nice.” Spiraling into unproductive self talk.
- “God damn stupid sons of bitches, I gotta trust you because your mama gave you a cookie whenever you let someone cut in line…”
- “It’s shitheads like you that are holding society back. We could all be home by now if it wasn’t for you people fucking up traffic.”
- “How do these fucking nice people survive — it must take them 4 hours to get through the grocery store…”
Part of me is glad that drivers are at least aware of bikes. Plenty of bikers have been killed through ignorance. I don’t have a better solution. The lights are awesome. The yellow lines help. The only thing safer is a bridge or a tunnel, but who can afford that shit.
But here’s my advice for car drivers when it comes to a bike crossing.
If you have the light, “just go motherfucker.” It will be better for us all.
Categories: Fat Biker