As a lifelong cyclist, I live by one rule when it comes to automobiles: assume every car is driven by a careless idiot, and get out of the way whenever possible.
It seems to me that the main point of getting on your bike isn’t to wave the embattled flag of “bike culture” but, simply, to have an enjoyable, stress-relieving ride.
So why are there so many road-ragers out there on bikes?
The Point Reyes Light recently ran a letter from an older man who reported some really obnoxious treatment at the hands of a group of well-heeled young bicyclists on fancy machines, riding many abreast over the bridge leading out of town.
The lads were “victimized” by a car horn, and, like a squad of oafish reactionaries straight off the Cliven Bundy ranch, they descended on the man with a threatened beat-down.
And in April, the 40-year-old founder of Iron Data software, Jeffrey Smock, had a bike-rage blowout with a 55-year-old in a pickup at a busy Mill Valley intersection. Smock allegedly beat the man bloody, and he’s looking at a felony assault charge. Really, dude?
I give bikes their three feet of clearance, no problem—I’ve been buzzed, boxed-in and hit by enough cars to know how nerve-wracking it is when motorists speed by, inches from your handlebars. But “Share the Road” means share the road. It doesn’t mean “I’m going to play chicken-entitlement games with the nearest fool who swerves onto the shoulder.”
When a driver gives that three feet on a twisty portion of, say, Sir Francis Drake on a Saturday morning—that driver is risking a head-on collision so he doesn’t hit you. When there are four of you riding abreast, and you refuse to line up single-file—that’s just transferring the nerve-wrack to drivers, and why would you want to do that?
So stop treating every bike ride as a Critical Mass throwdown. This isn’t the Second Battle of Ypres. It’s a nice day, and everyone should enjoy the ride.
In exchange, I’ll turn my attention to that tailgating menace in the Audi—instead of worrying about you.
Tom Gogola is news editor for this paper.
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].