I was biking along Oak Street recently when this question popped into my mind: "What the fuck do you want from me, dear cranky driver?"
To be honest, the question didn't exactly "pop" into my mind, rhetorical and apropos of nothing, but was pushed to the fore of my thinking by one driver in particular.
Specifically, the driver of a green sedan who was trying to edge his way around me -- despite the steady stream of traffic on his left and the wall of parked cars on my right -- as me both made our way past the DMV.
So my profanity-laced question is a question worth asking. And not just to the horrible driver in the green sedan -- the guy who just couldn't spare the extra seconds it would have cost him to wait until the lane beside him was clear, or, God forbid, spend the three blocks between the Panhandle and the beginning of the Wiggle traveling behind me at my reduced speed. That question/statement goes out to any driver in this city who can't be bothered to share the lane with a cyclist.
I have considered the alternatives, and they are limited:
1. I can speed up, trying to keep ahead of your bumper, as we bear down onto the intersection at Divisadero and Oak.
But too often I've been told that that is exactly the problem with cyclists in this city. They bomb down hills, careen around corners, and shoot through intersections. I'm liable to kill myself that way -- or worse, a pedestrian, who won't hear my quiet approach.
So if you don't want me to match your speed (as futile as that effort would be in any event given the fact that I have scrawny legs and you drive like an asshole) you must prefer the second option, in which:
2. I can get off the road and pedal down the sidewalk.
But again, that's another problem with cyclists in the city. They ride along the sidewalk, weaving around dog walkers and darting out in front of driveways. They are oblivious and irresponsible. They ask to be treated like cars in one case, but then act like pedestrians at their convenience. And here, I'm with you: Unless you still have training wheels and your baby teeth, riding on the sidewalk is a dick move.
Which bring us to our next option:
3. Support plans to build a separated bike lane on this well-pedaled bike route.
Well, funny you might suggest this, dear cranky driver, because wouldn't you know that on exactly this stretch of Oak, city supervisors have already approved plans to build a separated bike lane. That's an approval, by the way, that came over the howls of neighborhood groups and developers, protesting the loss of 50 parking spaces.
Because worse than reckless speeding and sidewalk-hopping, the biggest problem with cyclists in this town, so I've heard, is how damn entitled they all are. Special lanes and special signals and special parking spaces -- cyclists demand all of these things, no matter the certain inconvenience these modifications cause drivers. It's as if they think their choice of transportation should be encouraged or worse, accommodated.
Ah, I know what you want, dear cranky driver:
You want a cyclist who rides slowly, but not any slower than you drive, who stays
clear of your lane, but also off your kid's sidewalk, and who seeks out this safe, slow,
and entirely detached route that you'd prefer them to travel on just as long as that route doesn't take away your driving space in which you've grown accustomed.
Now might be a good time to stop daydreaming and watch the road.