I don’t like riding with other bicyclists. I groan under my breath when I overtake one in my commute. I like being alone. Another bicyclist adds speed issues, competition issues and passing issues.
Which is why I groaned Friday on the ride home as I passed under the 1792 railroad bridge, banging along on the southbound sidewalk, spotting a guy way up ahead, also on the sidewalk, also on a bike.
My route varies from his at this point. As soon as I’m past the car lot, I’ll swing off the sidewalk and cut a half-block west, running the N-S road behind Tom and Jerry’s bar (look for the orange VW bug on their sign), shooting south and cutting back onto the sidewalk a final time to cross at Lee. There are a million curb cuts in this city, and most of them (along with mismatched and cracked sidewalks) are along this stretch so I go around. The other guy was banging south across this zone.
Came back out for the crossing at Lee and there he was, waiting for the light. Groan.
As I came up on him, I took his stock – spindly road bike with flashy orange wheels. Black clothing. And earbuds, down to his plastic little toy that he was fiddling with (music? phone call? a game? Who the bloody hell knows these days). But, for me, he was on the wrong side of the post.
See, there is a big concrete post that holds up the light array at this intersection. He was leaning against the right side of it. I take the left. Why? So all those cars making that highspeed right turn from southbound 1792 to Lee will see me there. He’s blocked from their sight by the post, a lesson I survived a while back and added it to my bag of tricks.
But everything about his shows he doesn’t give a ratsass about his own safety. The black clothing, the eDistractions, the lack of a helmet. He’s only sporting gloves, because those are cool. Everything else, he’s showing bold individualism through stupidity. Of course, I rode up to stop on the other side of the post and said “Hi”. He glanced over, gave a private little sneer, and went back to his pad. Sure. Because I represent over-caution with my orange vest, yellow shirt, helmet, gloves, all that.
It’s almost like he thinks that if he fails his ride and gets hit, how can you blame him? He wasn’t trying. If I’m hit, its a failure because I as trying to avoid it and got hit anyway. It’s a weird way of defining your role in your own success, I suppose.
Well, he tap-tap-tapped away his time and I watched the light cycle go through its progress. I was wondering if we were going to have more problems with two of us in a crosswalk or getting onto the concrete – he’s crowding me when I need to be watching other things. But no, he didn’t know the cycle. He didn’t know this dangerous environment he was in. He was too tied to his phone. But I saw the oncoming left traffic stopping (after a final high-speed orange/red runner), and saw the Lee right turn signals go to yellow arrows. A look over my shoulder, no one overtaking for the right turn behind me. And I pushed off, right as the crosswalk light changed over, while he was still leaning against the post, updating Facebook or downloading a Nirvana tune or whatever. I ran the sidewalk to Morse, dropped down with a hand-signal onto the widening road, and ran south. Never saw him again.
Good enough for me.