Today’s bike commute was an exercise in serial stupidity. I felt like I was trapped in a video game populated by idiots.
I was headed to DC, riding along Morningside Lane, a shoulderless two lane road about 2 miles from my house. For cars, this road leads leads to the GW Parkway; for bicyclists, it leads to Park Terrace Drive. I am on this street for all of 200 yards. I was rolling along and heard cars coming up from behind. I stuck my left arm out to indicate that I was going to take a left turn. The driver of car behind me immediately stepped on the gas and passed me on the left, exactly where I had indicated I was going. Somehow this driver thought my hand signal meant “Kill me over there.” Endangering my life saved the driver at most ten seconds. Was it worth it?
I stopped to take in the sunrise. You never know when it’s going to be your last.
I headed to Friday Coffee Club. Afterward, I roll west on G Street, a one way street that goes past the World Bank and through the campus of George Washington University. As I was about to start out, a sedan came zooming onto G Street from 17th Street. It careened down the street swerving around other cars to get to a right turn just before the light turned green. The driver nearly hit two cars in the process and saved himself one minute at most. Was it worth it?
A few blocks later a short elderly woman (Think “Where’s the beef?”) was making her way down G. She could barely see over the steering wheel. She decided to turn right into one of the garage entrances to a World Bank building. She didn’t bother to signal and nearly took out two bicyclists. Was the parking space worth two lives?
Our next contestant was a DC bound bike commuter on the narrow path on the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. I was heading outbound. There was a strong, gusting cross wind. As I usually do, I wave DC-bound riders to pass me then I stop and hug the rail so they have plenty of room. (By the way, very few say “Thanks” which really pisses me off.) Today I waved a cyclist to come on by me. He was looking up river at the Georgetown waterfront. He had a wool hat on and it was pulled over his ears. He kept coming. On my side of the path. Straight at me. I yelled “Wake up!” He kept coming. I yelled again. About ten yards before hitting me, he turned and saw me and swerved around me. I could see wires extending from beneath his cap. He had earplugs in and didn’t hear me. Was the view and the tune worth it?
At the Intersection of Doom, I normally have at least one close encounter with large deadly metal objects each day. Today did not disappoint. Although the light had just turned red (giving me a walk signal), the driver of car turning from the I-66 off ramp decided to turn right without stopping, the better to save a minute on the way to work. As I have learned to do, I delayed crossing to avoid getting hit. I wonder if the driver even thought about the fact that she could have killed me. Was my life worth one minute of her time?
Our evening contestants included two ninjas. These fine folks wore dark clothing and nothing reflective and no lights as they ran along the Mount Vernon Trail. Was the money you saved on a blinky lights worth it?
Finally, just south of the Beltway, the Mount Vernon Trail takes a 90 degree right and turn across South Street, the access road from Washington Street to two big apartment buildings. A left turning motorist (sounds so refined) didn’t bother to signal saving at least 10 seconds of bulb life. Had I not anticipated his stupidity I’d have been t-boned. Was the bulb life worth mine?
Sadly, these near misses are pretty much typical for my commute. I am very much aware that most of my #bikedc friends have it much worse since they are on city streets for their commutes. I have managed to survive another week of “Was It Worth It?”
Pass the wine.