Last night, I was biking home.
I was heading down Spruce, towards my turn at 17th, when a black Porsche decided waiting at the light at 15th wasn’t for him. Time to get around the traffic.
Into the bike lane.
I was going pretty fast.
He was going pretty slow.
I crashed into his rear bumper, but had enough time to hit my brakes to avoid serious harm. It was nothing more than a love tap, but it filled me with rage. Incensed at this privileged ass in the bike lane, I rammed my fist into his back fender, screaming obscenities and leaving a dent.
The light turned. He sped away. I stayed angry.
I biked, irate, making my turn down 17th. Traffic and other bicyclists were before me. I joined the bike traffic, behind the cars.
Without signal or warning, a Toyota decided to turn right, again, almost hitting a cyclist in front of me. I quickly careened left through traffic, firehosed some more profanities, and promptly slammed into the dimly lit police barricade across the intersection.
I slammed into some sense. I slammed into my own stupidity.
I was bicycling angry – no, I was enraged. I was biking like someone who wanted to be hit, who wanted to get in a fight. I recognized a taste of alkaline on the back of my tongue—a taste of adrenaline—a taste I’ve only noticed playing rugby after punched in the face.
A taste that’s perfectly fine when hitting others is socially acceptable.
But not during any sort of commute.
The guy in the Porsche was wrong to invade the bike lane, especially without looking and a block away before he could make a right.
But everything I did after that was horribly wrong, too.
I should have counted to 5. Or 500, to be honest. But I didn’t. After leaving a satisfying fist-shaped indent in his black spoiler, I myself sped off, full of rage.
Yet, we live in an uneasy peace that threatens to become all out war, the cyclists and the drivers. Just one driver screwed up, out of dozens (maybe hundreds) I passed stuck in the snarl of Night Market traffic tonight, after that.
After being hit, I came unglued. But not the other half dozen cyclists who rode responsibly, calmly along the same path as I, including the guy who was far closer to getting hit than I was by the Toyota I yelled at. And not his girlfriend riding right behind him, who seemed more frightened by my screaming than her squeeze’s near crushing.
Often, something as mundane – as silly – as bicycle lanes or parking spots; good driving, bad biking: these stupid things matter. I fear now that Porsche guy will hate cyclists. Or worse, the cop who saw me barge into the barrier and storm off muttering curses, he might think that I’m some privileged, me first ass (and he would have every right to do so).
So, today, on National Bike to Work Day, if someone cuts you off, don’t be like I was last night. There is enough road for everyone.