A few months ago I coined the term “veloworker” to describe someone who tells their boss they’re telecommuting then goes out for a bike ride.
Yesterday I started a new feature of this blog. I call it Danger of the Day.
Today my neologistic skills meet Danger of the Day. I give you the audio ninja.
As every winter bike commuter knows, a ninja is a person who wears dark clothing on an unlit trail at night. Ninjas wear no lights and eschew reflective material. When backlit by a car’s headlights, ninjas are invisible. So far this winter I have had about 20 ninja near misses. Early in the winter I saw a bike commuter and a ninja disentangling themselves after the cyclist ran the ninja over south of National Airport on the Mount Vernon Trail.
Today during broad daylight I encountered a runner on the trail as I approached the base of the switchback bridge to Rosslyn. She was clad in black cycling clothes. Protruding from the bottom of her colorful woolen winter hat, I could see white earbuds. The earbuds were wired to an iPod or smartphone which she held in one of her gloved hands. She was running on the center line of the trail. As Big Nellie and I came upon her from behind, I rang my bell. She stayed in the center of the trail. I slowed and rang the bell again. Without looking she moved to the left directly in front of me. I started to pass her on the right and she moved back to the right in front of me, again without looking. I think that maybe she saw that bikes were coming down the bridge toward her on the left side of the trail. By this point, I was so close to her I nearly clipped her heels with my front wheel. I was tempted to use my fairing to deflect her into the weeds. Unfortunately, like my bicycle death ray, this sort of thing only really works in my imagination. Instead, I yelled “Give me a break!!!” or words to that effect.
So today’s Danger of the Day is the audio ninja: a trail user so zoned out on her music that she has no situational awareness whatsoever.