Tonight’s ride home was in the dark. I typically ride a bit slower than usual and it makes for an almost effortless ride. It would have been great but for four drivers in their cars, three of whom were probably well meaning.
About seven miles into my commute the Mount Vernon Trail crosses the access road that connects Daingerfield Island to the George Washington Parkway. A car approach from the Parkway from my right. I slowed. He slowed. I slowed some more. He slowed some more. I came to a stop at the stop sign (he had none). He came to a stop. I guess he must have been waving me through. Word to drivers of this world: if I have come to a stop, waving me through is pointless. You aren’t doing me a favor. I waved him through. Don’t try to drive my bike. Just drive your car.
A couple of miles later the MVT meets a street at a T with the parking lot for an office building on the top of the T. I approached the T and saw a car coming from my left. I slowed to let the car go by. The car slowed. It got within range of my headlight. I could see the driver waving me to go ahead. If I had obeyed her signal, I would have ridden directly into the path of a car coming from my right. Thanks, lady. I stopped, put my foot down and waved her through. Don’t try to drive my bike. Just drive your car.
A quarter mile later I was on Union Street. A road intersected with Union Street from the right making a T with Union Street as the top of the T. A car was parked at the curb, facing me on the left on the opposite side of the intersection. Next to the car was a car stopped at a stop sign. Curb car put on his left turn signal. And waited. Stop line car waited. I stopped and put my foot down. After a few more seconds, curb car does a left hand turn into the stem of the T cutting off both the stop line car and me. I think curb car wanted me to go first. Thanks, but no thanks. Just drive your car.
A mile later I was clear of Old Town, heading down the MVT from the South Washington Street deck above the Beltway. This nice, gentle downhill is complicated by an intersection with the access road to a large condominium followed by a zig zag in the trail. The access road/MVT intersection has a traffic light for MVT traffic. This was put in place after the condo people bitched up a storm about the trail users messing with their right drive onto South Washington Street unimpeded.
As I approached the bike light, I saw two white vans pulling up to the trail from the condo. The front van pulled right across the trail directly in front of me. I yelled “STOP!” three times to no avail. Despite the fact that I had the green light, I came to a near stop and shined my helmet-mounted headlight at the driver. She was looking down and texting on her Blackberry. As I rode past, I screamed at her. I am proud that I didn’t cuss. Just drive your car.
Long story short, if you wave a bike through an intersection and he doesn’t respond there may be two things going on that you are unaware of. (1) If a bicyclist can’t make eye contact with you, he is wise not to go into your path no matter how slowly you are driving. As my friend Mary says, I assume I am invisible. (2) A cyclists can see and hear things that you may not be aware of.
A State Police officer at my daughter’s driver’s license ceremony gave a scary lecture to the newly licensed drivers. His message was simple: Don’t text. Don’t fool around with the radio or your iPod. Don’t horse around with your passengers. “Just drive your car.”