Ride of Silence
Yesterday’s annual Ride of Silence was well attended and pretty straight forward. It is a powerful experience to ride in solidarity with one hundred other people. Riding silently in a group of such great people is a lot more difficult than you might think. I resisted to chat, with a few slips, but I couldn’t shut off the mind.
As we rode for 30 minutes, I couldn’t help thinking or noticing a few things:
- Same Rules, Same Rights, Same Responsibilities: It is a mantra, it is shorthand and it needs an update. Same rules? There are and need to be more rule differences like the Idaho Yield As Stop. Same rights? I consider self-propelling a natural-born right, driving my 2-ton transport pod is a privilege. Same responsibilities? This seems created from the road agencies; shouldn’t more responsibility be placed on me when I’m driving the larger and more destructive vehicle? That’s the thought behind most of Europe’s strict liability law. In Michigan, as drivers, we don’t even have to stop at a cross-walk. Responsibility, in my opinion, rests with the user of the weapon. That said, again, I do pledge to be more responsible, you?
- Share the Road: Everyone slows down and allows for funerals to pass, so let’s ride two-abreast on the street–it’s more fun.
- Riding a Bicycle is Fun: As the silent group passed a father and daughter riding bicycles on a dirt trail next to the TART Trail, a big smile went across my face when I heard the little girl squeal in delight as she coasted down and up a small valley. “Weeeeee…heee-heee….weeeeee!” #WhyWeRide indeed.
NOTE: If you are harassed while sharing the public right of way, call your local non-emergency police number and report it. In Traverse City that number is (231) 995-5150.
Sharing Streets With Angry People: The Front St. Incident
I was in a bike-car, angry driver incident last Friday on Front Street as I was finishing up a ride and I’m looking for your input….Here’s what happened:
I had just ridden past Running Fit on E. Front St. and was riding in the right tire track of the right side car lane. I was going the same speed as the rest of the traffic–around 18 mph if I remember correctly. All of a sudden the car behind me starts laying on the horn. HONK!! HOOOOONK! HOOOOOOONK!!!!
I looked over my shoulder and the driver was waving his arm to tell me to get out of the way. I couldn’t have gone any faster, as there was a car in front of me. Again, I was travelling at the same speed as the rest of the traffic. I wasn’t slowing him. I turned my head back around and continued riding, knowing that I was not doing anything illegal, inconsiderate or dangerous.
When we got roughly in front of the State Theater, that car behind me comes right up next to me and begins to pass me. It seems to me that he is really trying to be a jerk and show me who’s boss. If I recall correctly, I initially placed my left hand on the passenger window of his car to protect myself in the case that he were to swerve right and try to shove me off the road with his car. I then gave a solid “bang, bang, bang, bang” on his window as he continued to pass me, again leaving almost no room between us. He was so close that my left arm was bent as I was touching his car…it’s not like I was stretching out to touch it.
As he pulls past me, he moves right a bit, so he is now in front of me. He then slowed down, then sped up, slowed down, sped up a few times as if to try make me run into him. At this point I am staring at his license plate and trying to remember his number. He then comes to a stop, in the middle of the right vehicle lane and gets out. I un-clip one foot from my bike and I’m standing about 4-feet behind his trunk.
Dropping F-Bombs Ain’t Helping Anyone
He comes right up to me and starts dropping F-bombs left and right, telling me not to touch his F-ing car, to get the F-out of the road and how I didn’t belong in the road, etc. I calmly responded that I had a right to be there and that I wasn’t doing anything illegal, and that I’d stay right there. He kept yelling at me and I just kept repeating myself saying that I had a right to be there. I was very calm in my responses and never once raised my voice.
Then, suddenly he shoved me. I had my right foot clipped in the pedal (left foot on the ground) and he shoved me from my left. I must have clipped out as I tried to catch my balance, because I didn’t fall over, but it was close. He continued to ream me out and finally started walking back to the driver’s side door to get in. As he walked away, I started repeating his license plate number aloud, as to not forget it and he kept yelling at me.
He pulled away, and I pulled off the road and called the cops. The police came, recorded my story, and said they would try to contact the driver.
Initially, I wasn’t inclined to press charges. The guy was an A-hole, but I’m over it. There are lots of jerks in this world, and I can deal with that. BUT, many folks have encouraged me to press charges. Personally, as I already mentioned, I’m over this. But I also feel that, as a member of the cycling community and the broader community in general, that I should do something.
What are your thoughts on this?
Have any of you been in similar situations?
Thanks – Joel
EDITOR’S EXTRA: Joel original sent this out to a few of us via email, and I asked him if he’d mind sharing it as a guest contributor to MyWHaT because it is a timely story as we approach the peak season for active transportation. We could use a reminder that the streets are a shared space that we have a right to as people in automobiles, on bicycles and other wheeled tools and, in many cases, on foot–regardless of how angry and hostile someone might be who doesn’t understand that reality. It can be stressful out there, and we should all pledge to try harder to be better; more considerate.
“I solemnly pledge to behave as considerately as possible no matter how I get around.”
Again, if you are harassed, call (231) 995-5150 (TC) to report it. You may recall last summer’s story by Bill Palladino that was very similar that didn’t result in a ticket or anything, but no one likes getting a home visit by the men and women in uniform. _
* Graphics by Gary L Howe