A fool thinks himself wise…

21 07 2010

I don’t suffer fools gladly.

So when a motorist decided to take it upon himself to lecture me about “courtesy,” I let him know how much I didn’t appreciate his judgement. He probably has an even worse opinion about cyclists now, and I’m sorry about that; but when the adrenaline is flowing as I’m pedaling in traffic at 35 kmh while some guy is barking at me from his vehicle, it’s hard not to get wound up.

In my defense, I was already extremely frustrated by my bike computer’s sudden decision to act up, plus I have to soft-pedal from every stop light/sign as I await a new chain and front chainring.

The reason for this motorist’s ire was my refusal to allow cars behind me to make a right turn around me as we were stopped at a traffic light. I was at the head of the line when someone a couple of vehicles back tooted their horn to get the cars ahead to make their turn; he probably didn’t see me upĀ  front.

This inspired some guy driving a minivan in the middle lane to pull up beside me as we got underway on the green and start chastising me for not being “courteous” to sit on the curb and allow all those cars to go around me.

I always “take my lane” at traffic lights and stop signs, whether I’m first in line, or a number of vehicles back from the intersection. I never “curb squeeze” or jump ahead in the line unless a vehicle passed me 20 or 30 meters before the intersection; then I have no problem reclaiming my rightful spot in the line usually with an unappreciative glower/glance back at the motorist who didn’t respect me.

At intersections, I always take my lane, about a meter to 1.5 meters out from the curb.

This gives me ample room to clip back into my pedals and build momentum when the light turns green, and reduces the chances of getting “right-hooked” by a turning car that doesn’t see me or doesn’t care that I’m there.

But what most cyclists would see as safe and lawful riding was deemed by Minivan Dude as discourteous. And he was persistent on letting me know that.

I told him I had every right to take my lane, and as I was rightfully at the head of the line of cars, they would have to wait to make their turn, just as if I was a car in that spot with no intention of turning right.

This didn’t satisfy him, and again he pulled alongside to berate my “discourteousness.”

I reminded him if I was a car, those behind me would have had to wait; being on a bike is no different. Plus, hugging the curb is just plain unsafe; once I let one car turn around me, they’ll all start to turn around me and you can bet no motorist will extend me the courtesy of allowing me to get on my way when the light turns green. Not to mention the hazards of potholes and storm sewer grates.

I may have dropped a few f-bombs in there, as well as an emphatic instruction to mind his own business.

But in a question of safety versus courtesy, my own safety will always win.