Friday, July 19, 2013

Road Rage- Small Town Style

I rode my bike to the grocery store this morning and my route takes me down the main street of town where it crosses a state highway.  The traffic light was red when I got to the highway so I stopped.  That intersection makes me nervous because at that point the one single westbound lane I was in opens into a wider combined single/turn lane.  The problem is that the  implied turn lane isn't that wide and I always worried about any car in that lane hitting or brushing against me as I wait for the light to change.

This morning I could hear the sound of a big truck pulling up behind me and, worried about what the driver might do,  looked both ways up and down the highway, saw no traffic, and started across the street against the light. I petaled about a quarter of a block and turned into the small strip mall where the grocery store is, petaled another half a block to the store and was locking my bike to the bike rack  when a SUV pulled up next to me.  A middle-aged women was driving it and  she and the Yellow Lab with his head hanging out of the backseat window were staring at me.  For a second I panicked because I thought she knew me and with my bad memory for faces I did not recognize her or remember where I had met her.  Then she asked with suppressed anger, "Do you know bikes have to follow traffic rules the same as cars?"

I replied in the affirmative and added there wasn't any traffic. She got excited and said, "Yes, there was!"

I stared at her, confused by this answer since I knew there was no traffic coming in either direction when I crossed the highway.  She then said, "Never mind, it doesn't matter," and drove away.

Evidently it did matter to her since she decided to follow me into the the parking lot just to point out that I had broken a traffic rule. (Side note- When I told this story to my sister she said I should of asked her if she knew it was against the law to stalk people.)

I thought about this as I rode home and decided I would scrupulously follow traffic rules from now on but not because of what she had done.  I've decided to be more careful because some people in Colorado go ballistic when they see anyone on a bike flouting (as the see it) the rules of the road or biking on the roads at all.  Earlier this month a triathlete was injured when a driver pulled in front of him and stopped suddenly.  I myself was upset by the cyclists riding on Trail Ridge Road. It's scary to come around a sharp turn on a narrow road and find someone on a slow moving bike right in front of you.

Being schooled by a middle-aged woman in a SUV is not that bad but next time I may not be so lucky.

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