So bicycling is supposed to be good for your health, right?
That's why I am going out of my mind with anger and anxiety as I pedal down our main road on my way to the post office.
My son Alex, who is an avid cyclist, has advised me to "occupy the lane." Rather than what I usually do, which is to hug the shoulder, pedaling in an area strewn with sand, rocks, and ditches.
So I've been occupying the lane. Not the entire lane, mind you, just a teeny little strip.
I'm not wearing lycra, god forbid, nor am I speeding, that isn't my style (it isn't even in me to do so.) I'm just an innocent on an old bike.
You would think this would force cars to notice me, slow down, and pull around me.
You would be wrong.
I am noticing that to many drivers, especially young au pair drivers of SUVs and other large creatures, bicyclists represent a challenge, a kind of I dare you.
I dare you not to kill me, so to speak.
No one wants to mess up their cars with blood and guts. I know, because I own a car, and avoid splatters.
But some drivers seem to want to teach cyclists a lesson, not a Share the Road lesson, but an Out of My Way lesson. (Others aren't even so deliberate. They are simply texting. Or yakking on their cells.)
This has triggered two profound responses in me. The first is a profound anxiety about my son, who bicycles everywhere. He is moving to San Francisco and he will cycle to work there. Now I wake up in the middle of the night worrying. I worry more now that I have started riding, because I see how mean drivers can be. How thoughtless. And how they don't know how fat their cars are.
Teenagers do all this worrying about do these pants make me look fat. Well what about applying the same thoughtful analysis to the way they look in cars that don't give walkers or riders any room as they brush by?
The second profound response is anger. I'm furious. I've had too many close calls--and I've even witnessed some near misses of cars filled with kids brushing past moms with strollers.
And it has led me to doing the unthinkable: Flipping the bird at people who might be my neighbors. Or the age of my children.
Yes. I have become deranged. FUCK YOU! I scream with my fist as a car speeds by and leaves me literally in the dust. I have been reduced to one small gesture on behalf of cyclists.
I haven't given anyone the finger in years. It is really quite rude.
So why is it so satisfying, all of a sudden? Well, all isn't sweetness and light in Slow Love land.
Giving the finger is a pathetically small weapon against marauding cars. I have fantasies of sitting on the main road with a camera, and snapping pictures of license plates and reporting them to the police. But I have work to do. No one is willing to pay me to be town concierge, as far as I know.
And I cannot even imagine how much time it would take to get a bike lane established. Literally impossible, I'd guess. Why can't drivers just be....friendlier?
Be kind to those chicks on their bikes, for that duck might be somebody's mother...