Bicylists can be road ragers too, it seems
Bicyclists absolutely have a right to use the roads -- except for those from which they are legally excluded. And Getting There has little sympathy for the drivers who whine that they shouldn't have to share the roads with bicycles because they might have to endure a few seconds of delay. Coexisting with bicycles is a basic driving skill, and drivers who can't do so gracefully ought to turn in their licenses and take the bus.
But every one in a while comes a reminder that there are jerks on bicycles too. That latest comes in an email from Tom Shettle of Timonium:
Sunday, March 20th, at approximately 2:30 PM I was driving north on Roland Avenue and stopped for the traffic signal at Northern Parkway. I was in the right lane. There were four males on bicycles also stopped and facing north. Before the signal changed to green one angelic cyclist started across Northern Parkway. The other cyclist waited for the light.
I tapped my horn to let the one rider know that I saw him cross on a red light. When I was through the intersection and still in the right lane the rider went from the bike lane to the white line separating his lane from mine. I moved to my left and so did he as he came into the automobile lane.
I was not traveling very fast and tapped my horn as I could not give him the three feet clearance required by law. He is now next to my car and in the automobile lane, giving me the finger and asked if I had a problem. This is an adult male. I had three grand children in the car, two with learner’s permits.
The rider then comes around the back of the car and is by my left door and in the left automobile lane. He than gets in front of my car and stays there for a short time before moving into the cycle lane. He dropped back, said a few expletives, and I was around him by now and proceeded north on Roland. I believe the rider wanted me to hit him the way he kept getting closer to my car however I was traveling at a very low speed and had control of the car. I am going to send a copy of this to the Baltimore Bicycling Club and hope they will post it so they will see how some of the riders behave.
I'm pretty sure Mr. Shettle thinks he was entirely in the right, but I have to disagree. His "tap" of the horn was not a good idea. A car horn is there to warn, not admonish or correct, and its should be used only rarely. There's actually a law that says so though it's seldom enforced. (For the record, my contention is that we would be safer with no horns at all.)
In addition, bicyclists are especially sensitive to honking because of the danger of being startled -- with potentially catastrophic results. Drivers simply shouldn't honk at bicyclists as a way of "teaching" them --no matter how valid the lesson. One person's "tap" can be another's blare, so it's best not to get started down this path.
That being said, the bicyclist's conduct in this case -- if Settles' account is accurate -- is appalling. Not only did the bicyclist start off in the wrong by running the light, his behavior was rude and suicidally stupid. Bicyclists who desire the protection of the 3-foot rule had better observe it themselves, and people operating 3-pound vehicles have no business losing their tempers around 3,000-pound vehicles.
Sorry, bicyclists, road rage is not an option for you. If you can't control your temper, get off and walk.
One would hope this bicyclists' companions told him in no uncertain terms they would not ride with him again until he grew up. When one bicyclist in a group starts wagging the middle finger at people in cars and trucks, it endangers the entire group.
Any bicycle advocates disagree? Does anyone think the above-described behavior is jutifiable?