The Chainlink

This is a private note to the woman I had confrontation with...

Thank you for telling me to get in the bike lane. It all started when we were both stopped at the light (w.b. on Division at Damen). There was another biker there to my right, and so I had stopped in front of you--in your way, as it were. But what you're failing to see is that I was through the intersection before the light even turned green, and the real impediment to your forward motion was the taxi that was still turning left (to go e.b. on Division).

Perhaps your anger, clearly borne out of some other road-rage incident, was fueled by my "Get on your bike shirt" that the CBF put out this year. Maybe you're just an angry person. Maybe you're just not the type of person to find any meaning in rational discussion.

So, let's give up on the Enlightenment. Did your actions merit my saliva? No. In fact, your actions deserved much worse, and if I had had my U-lock available...
In fact, now that I think about it, it's not very Zen of me, but I don't believe in Carma, so if you don't learn your lesson now, there is little hope of you becoming a happy cog in the gears of society. And so I spit on your car when I caught up to you at the light (proving that bikes are just as fast...slow and steady). And you were *still* spewing invective as I spewed the only language I thought you might understand. And I would do it again, even in the face of all my cyber-friends lecturing me about my own road-rage.

We bikers take a lot of shit, both unintentional and intentional. I don't fight back all the time, but I'm not going to sit back and let the world make me a victim of senseless abuse.

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I too have been the subject of many angry comments from motorists, sometimes deserved, but mostly not. Sometimes I yell back or give the finger. Sometimes I try to give them a smile and wave, just to confuse them or try to make them feel like their anger is stupid. One thing I have tried to remember is that the next time the motorist who just yelled at me comes across a bike, it will probably be someone else. So if I do something to incite them further, like run someone off the road or worse, another cyclist is going to be the victim. I try to be conscious of that as a restraint for myself. So even if you don't believe in karma for yourself, maybe you could consider karma falling upon someone else. Just a thought.
nice
I've been offered this argument before and, though I think it's a thoughtful perspective, I disagree. I think that a cyclist who stands up for themselves (and cyclists as a whole) against the threats that are imposed upon all of us by automotive dominance on the roads cannot be blamed for causing the oppression we are subject to any more than rosa parks can be blamed for causing segregation. While it's true that real change requires organization, the spirit that mobilizes the masses and gives drive to organization comes from individuals with the passion and defiance to stand up for their just place in society. One hothead on a fixie may not change the paradigm that puts us all at risk every time we get on the road but his/her spirit of confrontation and resistance to being marginalized is imperative to a shift in public perception that will give bikes a respected place on the roads. Encouraging submission is damaging and attributing the tragic results of reckless driving to aggressive cyclists fighting (literally) to claim the roads that are rightfully ours is misdirected and unfair. But that's just my opinion.

K Stephens said:
I too have been the subject of many angry comments from motorists, sometimes deserved, but mostly not. Sometimes I yell back or give the finger. Sometimes I try to give them a smile and wave, just to confuse them or try to make them feel like their anger is stupid. One thing I have tried to remember is that the next time the motorist who just yelled at me comes across a bike, it will probably be someone else. So if I do something to incite them further, like run someone off the road or worse, another cyclist is going to be the victim. I try to be conscious of that as a restraint for myself. So even if you don't believe in karma for yourself, maybe you could consider karma falling upon someone else. Just a thought.
Hey man,

I'm sorry you had to deal with someone like that. It's hard not to retaliate. Thanks for not doing something super damaging or physical (e.g. using your u-lock).
I think I met this woman on Damen once. I wanted to make a left so I merged left but the light changed to red so I came to a stop behind 3 cars. Woman pulled up behind me and kept yelling at me to get in the bike lane.

Why are you yelling at me? Why don't you yell at the red light? It, unlike me, is impeding your progress.
sometimes it seems that people in cars get upset just by the very sight of a bike on a road. i think, more than anything, it's a defect in their understanding of the laws. bikes do have the right to roads; they do have the right to take up as much space as they need in order to be safe (eg, not riding in the door zone).

emotions are birthed out of a stimulus and a belief. if one believes bikes are not for roads, then they'll get upset by the very sight of one. if you believe, like most of us, that bikes are saving the world from itself one gallon of gas saved at a time, then you are heartened by the sight of every person riding a bike. and if you really believe that barack obama is a muslim and that he's lying about his religion and that every muslim is somehow related to a terrorist and that terrorists just hate freedom, then you'll be very afraid to vote for him. in all cases, education is the answer, but some people have come to their own conclusions and are not educable.
I know I've already weighed in on this topic, but why do so many cyclists talk about motorists like thier insects and not citizens of a community (of human beings) who are capable of making moral decision and who should be held solely responsible for their actions.

'Don't piss them off or they will swarm! It's their nature! You should know better!'

Again, I'm not suggesting that someone lashing out at a driver is going to solve a cultural problem. But its out of line to blame the actions of reckless motorists on cyclists who are tired of being marginalized. Sorry to harp, but we are all individuals out there, every day, dealing with the same shit in our own way. It's easy to claim high ground and pass judgment on an online forum but we all know what its like out there, we all know the source of the problem and it's not U-lock wielding cyclists.

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