MEMO: Stop Trying to Kill Me With Your Car

Priority: HIGH

To: The woman on 19th Street who screamed at me on Sunday from her car (and also, all the drivers like her, including but not limited to the pizza delivery guy who called me a bitch when he couldn’t manage to squeeze past me on a particularly daunting stretch of 17th Street, and the man who ran the red on Market and almost knocked me off my bike.)

From: That woman riding her bike on 19th Street whom you screamed at

Re: Chilling out immediately

Message:

Point 1: It has come to my attention—thanks in no small part to your bellowing out your car window at me—that you firmly believe that I am “not allowed to ride in the streets.”

I would be remiss to not point out the fallacy of this belief. I think you might be confused: The law prohibits cyclists from biking on sidewalks [as a reminder, those are the walkways on the side of the roads constructed for citizens traveling on foot], not roads [the black-paved thoroughfares on which you drive your car], which are in fact expressly constructed for vehicular transportation, most generally of the two- and four-wheel variation.

To be clear: Contrary to your shouted belief, not only do I, as a cyclist, have equal right to the road as you, a driver, but the law actually insists that I ride on the road—not the sidewalks. So you are mistaken in your expressed belief that I “need to get out of the way” so that you can speed along utterly unobstructed.

Point 2: It also appears that you believe that the proper way to express dismay and surprise over sharing the city roads with someone like myself is to come within feet of the my very small, very vulnerable back wheel, and then to lay on your horn. I must insist that you stop that behavior immediately. If you do not, instead of finally pulling over to let a potential threat to my safety simply drive by, next time I hereby vow to stop my bike, park it in front of your car, walk around and record your license number and hostile driving habits, which I will then report to the police. I will follow up by posting that information it on all of the cyclist blogs and biking sites I know, listing you as a bike hater and a menace. (Yikes!)

Point 3: As a casual but rule-abiding cyclist, I do not cut you off; I do not weave in and out of traffic; I use hand signals; I wear a helmet; and I observe red lights in respect to oncoming traffic. Hence, I can apologize for no transgression or offense except for my very presence. And since you live in a real city, and since you do not own the roads, and since I, too, pay my taxes and have places to go, I must insist that you get used to that presence. That you calm yourself. That you take time to learn the actual rules. And that you think about what you’re doing before you try to intimidate, threaten and potentially kill me with your 3,000-pound hunk of metal, as if you were some kind of stupid, dangerous bully instead of the conscientious, rule-following driver you clearly consider yourself to be.

Many thanks for your attention.

 

 

  • Ryan

    Excellent post. I think that the majority of bikers do deserve better treatment, and I do not even ride a bike. Unfortunately, I think there are two types of bikers, that unfortunately give all bikers in Philadelphia a bad name. This is unfortunate; however, the truth from my perspective

    #1 – The bikers who do ride on the sidewalk. This, in my opinion, is even more dangerous than riding in the streets. (Not to mention (as you state) illegal)

    #2 – The worst offender of all. THE BIKE MESSENGER. I don’t think I have ever witnesses a bike messenger, who is not a complete and utter asshole, while in the context of riding the bike.

    To sum up my point, I feel bad for most bikers who do not get respect on our roads. I don’t drive or bike, I just walk. I also get angry when I see someone blocking one of the bike only lanes with vehicles. GRRRR!

    Anyway, enough said. Go bikers, go! Excellent rant!

    #2 -

  • Onofrio

    Hi. You can start by talking to your Philly Post colleague, Carrie Denny.

    http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2011/07/19/philadelphias-war-bike-vs-car/

  • KS

    On a separate but related note: I can’t STAND drivers who don’t know the law that pedestrians have the right of way to walk with the green light. How can you live and drive in a city, and not know this? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a dirty look or been shouted at for walking when I have the right of way. Unbelievable!

  • Obielaski

    Do you observe red lights *only* “in respect to oncoming traffic,” or do you–like most bicyclists–go right on through if there’s no traffic on the cross-street? If it’s the latter, you have a lot of nerve claiming to be a “rule-abiding” cyclist. If I have to slow down and move into the other lane to pass you once, I should have to do it *only* once–not two or three times, as you ignore red lights that I do not.