Crabby Old Lady is aware that this is an unpopular stand, but someone's got to say it: bicyclists are a worse menace that automobile drivers.
A couple of days ago, while driving her car on a local street at the posted speed of 25 mph, Crabby had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting a bicycle steered by a grown man of age 50 or so, pedaling into traffic mid-block from between two parked cars.
He too stopped, directly in front of Crabby's car, shouting and gesticulating wildly - something to the effect that Crabby was a raging @#$%^ (this is a family blog) trying to kill anyone who was saving the planet and blah, blah, blah. (Her windows were closed so Crabby missed most of the tirade.)
Since he seemed prepared to emote all afternoon, Crabby drove around him into the other lane and off to her errands as he, predictably, gave her back the traditional one-fingered salute.
This isn't the first run-in Crabby Old Lady has had with a bicyclist. About 15 years ago, she nearly killed one in midtown New York traffic as she opened the door to exit a taxi and slammed it into a messenger passing on the right.
On another occasion, a New York bicycle messenger might have killed Crabby. Crossing a one-way street, she looked to make sure traffic coming toward her was clear, then stepped off the curb only to be slammed to the ground by a wrong-way cyclist.
Like Maine where, until a month ago, Crabby lived for four years, Oregon has a lot of bike paths painted on the sides of streets and suburban roads. Also like Maine, cyclists here seem to believe their specially designated lanes give them the right to ride the wrong way on one-way streets, weave in and out of auto lanes and turn without signaling.
A couple of weeks ago, Crabby saw a cyclist reverse direction in the middle of 50 mph suburban traffic by humping his bike over the median strip of the four-lane road.
It amazes Crabby Old Lady that cyclists who so blatantly ignore the rules seem to falsely believe two things: that automobiles need no more room than bicycles to stop and that thousand-plus pound vehicles can't hurt them. (Oh, maybe there's a third thing – that they falsely believe motorists don't hate them enough to behave as cavalierly as they do.)
Now don't go telling Crabby that most cyclists are responsible. That may or may not be true, but Crabby, in her entire life, has not seen more than two or three drivers going the wrong way on a one-way street, something cyclists do regularly and, unlike motorists, deliberately. They often run red lights which motorists almost never do, and as far as Crabby can tell, not one cyclist has ever learned hand signals.
Even children are more predictable than cyclists. When they're playing near the road, you know they are likely to do something stupid just because they are young and inexperienced. So you slow way down. Grownups are expected be smarter, but the act of buying a bicycle seems to drain brain cells.
The more bicycles on the road, the better for the environment and for individual health. But until cyclists lose the holier-than-thou attitude, and the rules of the road are enforced for bicyclists as readily as for motorists, Crabby Old Lady will despise them.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Hands Across the Years