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Intersection Drama

I was idling in my pedals at the intersection of Fremont and Mary, when my wandering thoughts were interrupted by a loud blaring noise. Someone is sounding their horn in the car directly behind me.

My eyes shot up to the traffic signal, which was still red. There was the horn again — not a heavy lean or a polite tap, but a full-bodied honk. There was a moment of confusion, and then I realized my legal position in the bike lane was impeding him from making a right turn.

My knee-jerk reaction was less than obliging. It’s clearly not nice to blast your horn up someone’s butt, when they’re balancing on two wheels at very low speed. I could easily have fallen over and, as I’ve done that already this month, I know first hand that it’s kind of a bummer.

So I clipped out one foot and planted it on the pavement, steadfast in feigning ignorance of the driver’s incessant honking. It didn’t sound like, “Excuse me, Miss”. Because horns are such frequent weapons of abuse in my part of the world, it came off to me more like, “You don’t belong there!” And if that were so, my response is: Like hell I don’t.

Being as I am obeying applicable traffic law in standing here, I refuse to clip out of my vehicle and drag it to the side walk so you can shave 14 seconds off your wait at this intersection, the savings of which will likely be nullified at the next stop light. Besides that, you don’t even have a turn lane here, so you can just chill in your air-conditioned cabin and refrain from confusing the other motorists.

Moments later, I glided through the intersection on a much relieving green light.

I’m still a little troubled, because I doubt I could have done anything impressed upon him a better attitude towards cyclists. As a conspicuous Lycra-clad roadie, I try to be a conscientious rider and through my example earn respect for the cycling community as a whole. I think ignoring the driver just made me look arrogant, and perhaps I should have at least acknowledged him somehow. Maybe you could make a suggestion as to how I could handle that situation better, should it happen again?


  1. George wrote:

    Hi — I don’t think you’re ever going to win this one in a city. When I’m the first one at a red light, I pull over to the side, maybe even waiting on the sidewalk as if I were going to ride on the pedestrian walkway. Then drivers approaching can turn right on red. They don’t understand why a bike should block them when it’s so easy to stop on the side rather that the middle of the road. Choose your battles!

    Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  2. Jig Hexadecimal wrote:

    It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed my post.
    It renews a well-founded sense of confusion about traffic problems in North America – that it’s presently impossible for a cyclist to take a role without stepping on someone’s toes. There is in any case no justification for bullying someone who tries to follow the terribly ambiguous rules wherever possible.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

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