First off, let me say, if you have a little voice in your head, listen to it. I didn't and am now learning from that.
I decided after a few imbecile motorist incidents riding to and from work this week, to order an Air Zound air horn. So, at lunch today, I placed my order via Amazon since no one around here carries them.
I also decided to pull a few intervals uphill on my way home.
Now, there's this one road I take home and there's zero shoulder, very hilly and lots of sharp curves. Fun as hell when you're alone, notsomuch when it's rush hour. Still, I have taken it and have only had one incident I mentioned a long time ago about a buzzing honker.
Anyhoo. . . .
So I have this feeling, this voice in my head telling me to take another route, to avoid this road. But, I convinced myself that I'd be okay, I got out of work a few minutes early, there will be less cars on the road etc.
So I took this road.
I've also learned, from commuting, to gauge cars coming up from behind by sound. I can sort of figure out if they're going to turn in front of me (they sound VERY close and are slowing down), give me room, if they see me, etc.
I am riding along and I hear what sounds like a car is going to turn at the right side street I am approaching. Sure enough, a maroon colored Chevy almost clips me as it passes me and I'm on the brakes, hard. And as I thought, the car makes a right turn in front of me.
Well known, but little appreciated fact of physics: two objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time (unless its sex, but that's for another post). Anyway my front tire/wheel bounces off the rear passenger side corner of the bumper. It was super low speed, maybe less that 4 mph on my part since I was on the brakes. And sure enough, the car climbs up the hill on the sidestreet.
I start letting out a string of expletives that would probably embarass me had I heard it recorded, and like an enraged imbecile (contrary to my advice to Synack) chased. The car stops and I think "well, if they have a gun, I better grab the barrel or slide because it's too late to retreat now." I pull up just behind the passenger window and this is where I actually unnerve myself. I've experienced the fight of flight response before, and for me it is usually flight. I had this urge for whoever it was, to punch them as hard as I could in the face to stun them, grab them by the throat and pull them through the window. Scary. Anyway it ends up being a 17 year old girl and her friend.
"ohmygodohmygodohmygod! did we crash?"
"I thought I cleared you! you were going too fast?"
"WHAT? You do realize in MD you have to give a cyclist 3 feet right? What was so important you had to turn right in front of me for?"
She starts apoligizing and crying.
"Mr, should we call the police?"
Now I find myself at a crossroads. I can barely speak I am so angry, but I am calm enough to think about long term ramifications for this girl. She's 17, on a provisional license with another person in the car. She'll absolutely lose her license for a lapse of good judgement.
I told her that I've made a lot of stupid decisions before, some on purpose and some from not paying attention. I thought that as my daughter grows up, she's going to do stupid things. I hope that someone wouldn't totally jam her up; its a part of growing up, making stupid decisions.
Long story short, I scared the crap out of her listing all of the penalties she'd face had I been hurt of killed or if we even called the police. She's bawling, and her friend is ready to **** her pants. I didn't yell, scream, curse.
I told her that she had very nearly robbed my wife and daughter of a father and husband due to her not using good judgement. I also explained that driving is a privlege and not a right; she's wielding a weapon weighing more than a ton and with that comes a lot of responsiblity. I also told her it is NEVER worth rushing, not trying to beat a light, turn in front of someone, making a dangerous pass on a 2 lane road.
She wanted to know what to do next and I told her that she should collect herself, drive home and really think about how close she had come to getting in very, very big trouble and that she should thank her lucky stars for the break I am giving her by not calling the police and how lucky she was that no one was hurt. I did thank her for stopping when she heard me yelling for her to stop, I told her that was a smart move to avoid further trouble.
I left to her sobbing in the car going "ohmygodohmygodohmygod."
Anyway, I also thought that since this girl lives across the road from me in another development, chances are I'm going to see her on the road again, as well as her folks. I figured it'd be better to walk away rather than risk an "accidental buzz or hit and run" further down the line.
So, I am now pissed at myself for not trusting my gut and am left with the question if I should put my fenders on ebay or something to get some $ together to buy a GoPro or Contour camera just in case it were to be a hit and run. I hate the idea I need a camera "just in case" but its stuff like this that REALLY makes me wonder why the hell it is so damn easy to get a driver's license.
Watch yourselves, and keep your head on a swivel because others are not.
I think you might need to chill with the adventures Seriously, I'm really glad you're okay. Nice job on the situational awareness! In a way, all's well that ends well if this helps you remember to listen to that little voice in the future Much better to learn this way than by piling into the car at near-speed or something worse.
I appreciate the way you describe handling it. Sounds like there's at least a decent chance she'll get the point and be a safer driver for it. There's a lot to be said for that in the long term over the felony charge route. I appreciate your restraint. Well to get the good, sulfurous profanity out of the way before catching up I can't imagine how furious you must have been.
I'm liking the video camera idea more and more. Sad.
It just kills me (bad pun) that we all willingly put our lives in others' hands when we're on the road. Think about it. Would you willingly walk in to a situation (unless it is job related) thinking "Well yes, someone could very well likely maim or kill me today" and accept that fact? I'm willing to bet not.
Yet, on our roads, that's exactly what we do, and it really, really disturbs me that this young woman had zero idea of what possible consequences could have resulted from her actions. When I ride to work at 530 in the morning, I know I'm going to face people half-asleep at the wheel. Not that its okay, but it is to be expected. But the fact that she
a)willing and wantonly had another underaged passenger in the car
b)willingly and knowingly made a close pass and turned in front of me
c) had zero knowledge of the law regarding vulnerable road users
befuddles me. There are 4 schools within 3 miles of my house, 6 schools within 7 miles of my house. Think about how many children are walking to and from school, every day. And that the new drivers (and experiences drivers, I am sure) have zero clue about what is expected of them as motor vehicle operators.
I really do not want to turn this in to a "****ing stupid car drivers they should all rot" thread.
Its more of
a) awareness on all of our parts as a community here at Two Spoke and as cyclists
b) a reflection on myself as it is one of maybe a handful of times I've totally lost control in dangerous situations.
Synack, I do feel like a hypocrite after I said to walk away; it really is what I usually do. I was about 800 feet from my front door when this happened, and I think that I KNEW it was coming from the sound of the car that disturbs me.
Aero, I do think I did the right thing by cutting her a break; being punished for a mistake (albeit a potentially deadly one) with long term consequences, IMHO, will not really educate her. It'll serve as a punishment rather than an education.
I really wanted everyone to walk away from this none the worse for the wear, everyone learns their lesson and carries forward.
I've also decided to start taking the long way home, 19 and change versus 11 and change. It'll be a longer ride, but heck, the route I'm taking isn't worth it.
I think your sacrifice for not listening to your gut may have saved someone else's life one day. That girl may have this lesson imprinted into her and and she may become a safer driver as well as more cautious of cyclists in the future.