Archive for October, 2009

She shoved a camera in my face!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Today I had an amazing ride on a fresh trail, born just a few weeks ago.  The New York City parks department expanded the bridle path for horseback riding near City Island in the Bronx and I have patiently waited nearly a year to be able to bike it.

Today with the connections completed the mud diving commenced and aside from patches of black murky soaked earth mixed with horse feces the trails are sweet and never more than a quarter mile from the 6 train (a NYC Subway).

post mud diving

my legs post mud diving

I’ve become very conscientious, courteous and patient with the four-wheeled creatures, anticipating the occasional irresponsible behavior and ignoring it as best I can.  That has made for some pleasant rides, but ever so often I do run into that one selfish sheep that just pushes the right button and makes the beast within me growl, howl and spit.  So even after this incredible ride I ran into trouble when I got back to my suburban Westchester town.

I stopped at a light, waited until it turned green, signaled to the drivers on my left that I was going to go straight and hugged the row of parallel-parked cars.  I was passed twice without incident, the third vehicle a Cadillac Escalade got right next to me and blasted its unusually loud obnoxious horn, which felt like a chilly sonic punch into my ear.  Startled and shocked I pulled off my handlebars and shouted, ”Seriously?”

Out of anger I tracked the car to its parking spot.  As I pulled up the driver rolled down the window and before I could say anything, the woman had her iphone in my face shouting, “You’re on camera now so go ahead!”  I chuckled at that and shrugged at the camera and her need to film me, then asked,” Did you want to say something to me?  Why did you sound that horn?”  She responded, “You were in the middle of the road.”  Being confident that I was nowhere near the middle of the road, I said, “No, no I wasn’t.” She then said, ”How would you know, you don’t have a mirror on your bike…” Realizing quickly this was a no win situation for me I decided to give in to her and say “No, no I don’t have a mirror, you’re right, I should have one…” as I was about to apologize she rolled up her window, opened her car door shoving me with it and told me to get out of her way, all the while keeping her camera phone in my face as she stormed off to the store.

Feeling like a self-righteous jerk I went home, knowing full well my stand for cyclists had failed and probably made things worse for the next rider she encounters.  If her behemoth 7 foot, wide Cadillac Escalade, is too big for her to handle then maybe she shouldn’t drive it?  Obviously she doesn’t want to share road space, or fuel but I am going to hold back my rant on that and offer up this photograph instead.

Surf Utility Vehicle - please click the image for a funny story

Surf Utility Vehicle - please click the image for a funny story

Why is it ok for her and all (terrible) drivers not to expect cyclists or pedestrians to be using the street?  Why did I have to apologize to her for being in her way?  Her car takes up almost half of the two lane road. Perhaps her space station sized submarine of a grocery getter scares her, as if blowing her horn was her way of saying, ”I can’t drive this, please, for your own safety get out of the way!”  Maybe that’s how I should look at it?

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, vetoed a Safe Passing Bill in June, here is a link to his objections.  Not that a safe passing law could have saved Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler who were killed when a pickup truck veered into the shoulder where they were riding their tandem, but at least this incident wouldn’t have been called an accident.  This story is made even more heartbreaking because the couple’s seven-year old daughter is now orphaned.



If you take a look at the San Antonio News Article you’ll notice the comments are striking.  Its as if driving folks think bicycles have no place on our roads and completely miss the point that regardless of annoyance (to them) they are human powered, meaning they are not some cockroaches taking up your precious tarmac that if encountered need to be eradicated.  We are human beings, not roaches.

A year from the finish

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

It has been a year since we finished.  A year since we ran out of road.  A year since we rode our bikes into the Atlantic.  In this year there were speeches given, blogs written, YouTube videos posted, and support given by cyclists, drivers, celebrities and government officials.

But as reported by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System :

In 2008, 716 cyclists were killed on our roads 15 more avoidable deaths than in 2007 despite 104,000,000,000 fewer miles driven.

As drivers we are being more careless than ever regardless of age or experience.  Much more needs to be done.  No one who rides a bike should become a victim. Please ride safe.  Be smart.

Cycling versus Cars, a race:

Last May in New York City the bicycle took its eighth straight title in the annual fastest way to get to work race, beating a taxi-cab by 30 minutes.  In Saul Paulo Brazil, where commuters spend up to 3 hours a day sitting in traffic (that’s 2 working days a week!) the bike even outdid a helicopter.  The bicycle is fastest most efficient way to travel through a congested city.  I would wager that a bicycle would outdo nearly all means of travel in most cities around the world.

Cycle commuting is not the, be all end all, but if we’re looking to decongest an overtaxed system of roads it is proving itself an exciting solution.  That said, I do love my car, it takes me to incredible places to ride my bike.  Most recently to Prince Edward Island, which could be North America’s bicycle Walden or Walden II since we’re thinking so “out of the box”.  For starters PEI has 350 kilometers of converted railway known as the Confederation Trail set aside for cycling (any non motorized travel) connecting the east point to the north point of the island with a delicious soft brush stone path, ideal for peaceful passage.  The island’s paved and unpaved roadways were dotted with courteous drivers, whether I was walking, cycling or driving I never felt threatened.  Since PEI is almost a thousand miles away from New York, Portland Maine, was a good spot to stop, rest and go for a ride.  The traffic was very respectful, yielding and gracious, traffic I haven’t experienced since the logging trucks on Route 20 out of Newport, Oregon.

Thus proving that drivers are capable of being courteous so why aren’t we always this way?  Although we are driving less, when we do get in the car let’s remember to take a deep breath and yield to the other traffic, especially the non-motorized kind.

October 1, 2009

Pearson – New York