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...


Anonymous said...

We have a lot of bike lanes but I think if you ride a bike you need to go the speed of the traffic if you are in the car lane otherwise it does slow everyone down and there is "tude" among both.

Melanie J Watts said...

I'm a bike riding mother too. But bike riders who weave through traffic, ride through red lights, ride on the sidewalk, etc, give us all a bad name.

Bruce Barone said...

I had a car driver honk and give me the finger a few weeks ago because I was going (in my car) the speed limit!

Elizabeth said...

I love the bicycle vengeance. Remember that movie "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas? You could be the female bicyclist version -- :)

cara said...

Good for you for biking! My favorite place in the world to bike is Thailand, where on any road, you will find trucks, handcarts, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorbikes all SHARING the road and looking out for each other. It didn't seem to slow anyone down too much. People aren't used to that in the US, but if there's not a safe bike lane/path/shoulder, then it's your right to bike in the lane at whatever speed your legs take you. Drivers can pass when safe. Keep on keepin on!

Judith Ross said...

I, too, have had the same experience while biking -- lycra-free, I might add -- into our little town. Too many teenagers driving SUVs. It is terrifying and infuriating, especially since I do ride close to the side of the road.

Our town also is a mecca for cyclists wearing lycra. We have many meandering and narrow country roads. I have no objection to cyclists "owning the lane" when there are no cars coming, but many of these "serious" cyclists, won't move over and, in fact, often insist on riding two or three across even when a car is coming up behind and trying to pass them.

We drive a small Toyota and don't require a lot of room, but this attitude from what often seem to be male, middle-aged, lycra-clad gents with pot bellies is also infuriating.

I do think bike lanes are a solution -- too bad they seem to be needed on country roads though. We just returned from Paris and saw first-hand the bike lanes there and admired their Velib bike-rental system. We were too chicken to try it for ourselves. Maybe next time.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm not sure I would ever attempt to bike on a street without a bike lane. Fortunately, we have quite a few bike lanes in our city, with more coming every month. But to bike alongside city traffic is just unsafe.

And speaking as a driver... I'm unfailingly careful around bikers, but I will admit it scares me to death to come up behind one. There is rarely room in the road to go around them and I'm usually terrified they will fall in front of my car. So I follow along behind for much longer than I should and then I'm afraid I'm making them nervous which might only increase the chances of an accident. Not a good situation all the way around.

Be careful out there.

Lines of Beauty said...

Bike lanes are the only solution I'm afraid. Biking on the roads is so dangerous. I know because I use to do it and got hit. Years ago I was biking with friends and a car came up on us- honked real loud- and startled me so much that I swerved right out in front of it. My handlebar went into their windshield and cracked it and I was thrown off my bike into the road. I was so lucky not to be hurt any worse than I was.

The other day I was on a narrow, winding, main road here in Lexington,MA which is heavily used by cars. There were 5 bikers, all in a single lane, owning the road. I can't tell you how anxious it made as I tried to get around them while trying to avoid oncoming traffic at the same time. For several minutes I could not pass them and was so afraid I was going to hit one of them.

I think that with the environmental impact of gas emissions, not to mention the high cost of gas, that it is due time that towns and cities get on board with bike lane plans. They can marry it with the anti-obesity campaign. And use Portland, OR as their model.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that most roads in this country were built for cars; most lanes really can't be shared safely. I'm older and would love to dust off my old beach cruiser bike, but I'm terrified by the bad behavior of both car drivers and bicyclists. I have even given up
my walks on the trail by the creek, because it has been taken over by the "lycra" set. An idiot on a racing bike hit one of my elderly neighbors, while she was walking on the trail. Broken arm, fractured collarbone, stitches. He; concussion and scraps, yelling at her as she lay on the ground bleeding, for walking so slow! This makes me sound so old, but there are days when I feel like I'm surrounded by a generation of rude, abusive morons. They are driving cars, on bikes and jogging over anyone who just wanted to go for a stroll in the evening air. When did everything become an Extreme Sport?
Slow down, be in the moment and learn something new about the world around you.

Deborah A said...

This has really struck a cord with me. This last week I have been speaking to my son in the evenings via phone (usually on his way home from work).
He is in training for an upcoming triathalon, so he has been riding anywhere from 30 to 40 miles on his bike 3 to 5 times a week. He loves riding and has invested a lot of money into riding gear and his bikes.
In the last 4 days he has incidents that I find very alarming. One, he was traveling on a back road, very little traffic and a Jeep went by with 2 young people that threw a beer bottle at his bike, he went off the road and fell, the bottle had smashed on his front tire. He did not get a lic #. When he got home he checked his front tire and there was a shard of glass piercing it. It cost $50.00 for a new tire. I was terribly upset and told him he should have called the police even without a lic plate #...he could have been seriously hurt! To me this is an assault, plain and simple.
Last nite when he was riding a carful of teenagers passed him all yelling obsenities at him...
Now, like you Dominique, I'm worrying about his safety riding his bike...Where are the parents of these kids...
I live in a tourist area where there are tons of bikers and bike trails that cross main roads, so I am very careful, but I do feel every summer that we are going to have a tradgedy on our hands. Here, it is a double problem, as we have speeding drivers in cars and bikers that do not use common sense either.
It wasn't bad enough that I was worring about him falling off and being alone somewher hurt, now I'm worrying about some idiot hurting him!

Deborah A said...

And Yes, I just went back and read some of the comments, like I said I do live in an area that come summer is innudated with cyclists that are very serious and type A types.
I too, have been aggravated by them when they veer out into the road and you actually have to stop and edge by them. I am usually very happy to see the end of the summer, so we can return to peaceful roads again.
So, I always tell my son not to be an obnoxious bike rider!! BTW, he does where lycra and all that very expensive gear!

Deborah A said...

Good Lord, How in the world did you get that picture??? You really worked at giving us the visual impact of your anger.
Be careful though, you don't want to aggravate some lunatic, they are apt to take a gun and shoot you!

Annie V said...

I think drivers revert to prehistoric responses, trying to keep "their territory" sacred. So, to a driver, cyclists are invading their territory, and it's too difficult to add that distraction into the complex action of driving (especially when the radio is on, the kids are screaming, the cell phone ringing, errands to run, etc. etc.). So, drivers move into offensive behaviors to clear out (scare off) the "distracting invaders". And it IS terrifying to be a cyclist--meat and bone against 2 or 3 tons of metal and unconsciousness...

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

Things will only get better when petroleum reserves run out and bikes outnumber cars on the road. That blessed day may not be far....

Max's Mom said...

I have also been thinking a lot about bicycling and cars. We recently bought a bike trailer to carry our 2 year old son. I worry so much about the inconsideration of others behind the wheel that I mainly ride on our uncrowded sidewalks, bike trails and rarely the main road for fear of some moron not seeing us and causing an accident. I see it while I am driving and it scares me to death. Everybody just Slow Down and look at the world around you! You are not the only ones in it on the road.

Anonymous said...

Also ditto above for the motorcyclists who dash in between cars and squeak by and then come up on your right and left side and switch lanes faster than you can signal your own lane change.

Anonymous said...

At this very moment someone I know in NYC is in a coma as a result of riding his bike (with a helmut) on the streets of New York just a couple of weeks ago.

SweetRetreat said...

Cyclists don't like drivers or pedestrians, drivers don't like cyclists or pedestrians, and pedestrians don't like cyclists or drivers. It is a mad world on roads, sidewalks and trails. I walk my dog several times a day and nothing is more frightening that cyclists who come flying over hills or along roads. If I happened to put my arm out, or the dog wandered, we could be badly hurt. For no reason at all, just going for a walk.

No matter how often you use the 'finger', you are the one at risk. Be careful.

Judith Ross said...

Also, I really, really have to thank you Dominique for revealing a darker side to Slow Love land. You make me feel better about some of my own, less-than-ladylike behavior.

But you know what? Sometimes we really do have to say what we mean. In fact, we need more of that these days, starting at the top.

But, in the meantime, be careful on that bike. It goes without saying, I hope, that you do wear a helmet.

Oh, and the next time you get riled up, I highly recommend going for a swim to calm down. Good for the heart, soul, and blood pressure.

Anonymous said...

I hear you! When I am driving on back country roads and come upon a cyclist, I do sometimes feel slightly impatient and then I think of my son who is always out on the roads in NM practicing for some race or other, and I think to myself, you must behave like that is your son - it always puts life on the road in perspective.

c said...

I live in a small town where speed limit is 30 mph, no bike lanes at all, hardly any sidewalks, and most streets are the old fashioned kind: one coming and one going.

Cyclists, or really just bike riders, are not as numerous as walking teenagers with HUGE attitude. I dread driving when school is out - they walk 3, 4, 5, side by side using the whole width of "my" lane. Add the twisting streets where one shouldn't try to pass them 'cause there might be an on-coming car ...

Another wrinkle?
I drive a hybrid = silent at under 30 mph ... those darn teens don't even know I'm right behind them! I once had one of them actually almost bump into my car when she turned around and kept on walking without looking where she was going.

So, is it my getting older and driving slower because I'm not in such a rush anymore? Or is it self preservation? I truly don't know.

But. When I'm on the highway ... watch out. I'm speeding with the rest of them!

Warren said...

I spent six years biking in NYC in the '70s. I co-existed with taxis, buses and most dangerous of all, pedestrians.

While biking is exhilerating, it isn't a right but instead a choice. Acting like it is a privilege, may only alienate the people with whom bikers need to co-exist.

Would giving the finger gotten Ghandi or MLK where they are today? How about a 'thank you' or 'have a nice day.'

Sorry but I think flippping people off only reinforces drivers attitudes about bicyclists. So does not sharing the road.

karenleslie said...

i live in a bike town - bike paths everywhere, a city ordinance requesting drivers give bicylists a wide berth if possible, but to me, bikes and cars don't co-exist well and i feel it's just too dangerous. because there are so many bikes here, there are the inevitable accidents and the motorists are not the ones who get hurt. i get the middle finger going up and agree with judith ross about your darker side. unfortunately, some motorists simply hate bicyclists -- they throw things at them and intimidate them by driving closely and very fast as if they're going to drive them off the road. bicyclists have told me horror stories and i'm not up for that kind of fight... we have bike bath by the boulder creek with no cars -- you've probably got something similar there?

Unknown said...

Ha Ha! I was reduced to giving the finger just last week! At first it made me feel good and then I felt bad. I am a designer in Santa Barbara and I've been riding my bike to work for the last two years. I rarely have those moments while riding but when I do.....
My son lives/rides in SF and is my inspiration for cycling. PS. In SB it's not the Range Rovers who are the aggressive drivers, it's the Prius drivers!

Anonymous said...

Bicyclist struck in Tiverton
By NBC 10 News
Published: July 16, 2011


Tiverton Police are investigating an accident on Main Rd. where a bicyclist was struck and pinned under a vehicle.

The accident occurred in the area of the Sakonnet Bay Manor assisted living facility.

The victim's name has not been released.

No condition has been given at this time.

I copied this (with spelling corrections) from http://www2.turnto10.com/news/2011/jul/16/bicyclist-struck-tiverton-ar-616372/ website.

davidterry said...

1. Those "baby trailors" scare the diddly-boo (or, as the French say, the SHIT) out of me...and also my mother, who was incensed when she was recently visiting and saw some giddy yuppy-woman plowing down the middle of this narrow street, with the baby enclosed in something that looked less substantial then your average cat-carrier.

My house in NC is in one of those terribly cute, "reclaimed" neighbrohoods (bascially, circa 1900 mill-cottages that folks have bought for 75,000 and into which they've put another 50,000....so that everything costs at least 200,000, and every old widow-lady friend of mine is having to leave). We also have parking on both sides of every narrow (if pretty) street......and these folks blithely and thoughtlessly haul their babies behind them on bikes while they exercise their 30-something thighs....as though these streets were the aisles of Whole Foods (just up the street...where they can get away with such behavior without necessarily having their baby killed by someone who, for better or worse, simply wasn't looking very carefully or expecting to share the road with infants while dodging oncoming traffic and all those self-congratulatory folks with their rescue-dogs on "retractable leashes" that they NEVER retract...).

Well, enough of that.

(2) One a somewhat more serious note?....

Are those YOUR hands in the photograph , Ms. Browning?

I'm confirmed in my inclination to include a jar of the very-very fine, "De-Luxe" brand, 100% Shea Butter with Lavender oil. I buy it in boxes of ten.

I've given jars of this to every lady who's begun to worry me, and they've all been grateful. Basically (and trust me, this household goes through two jars per month), it's essential for any person who spends time gardening, cleaning, or giving folks the digital version of "f***k Yourself!".

Not to sound too much like your mother, Ms. Browning, but?....this may not clean up your act, but it'll do wonders for your hands....

so, you'll be getting a jar of the stuff.

Avuncularly yours as Ever,

David Terry
www.WhenWillEveryoneJust CALMDOWN?.org

Thea said...

I live in Arlington VA which has designated bike lanes and I am still afraid to ride my bike. The traffic and the speed of the cars is just too dangerous for my sensibilities. and i used to be a daredevil biker when i was a kid. in the greater DC area, bike accidents happen with regular frequency and it's pretty much agreed that both drivers and bikers carry extremely arrogant attitudes toward each other. I offer no solution except that courtesy all starts at home. When most of the world has a FU attitude, you might want to take up walking, maybe power walking. to which i will say that i went to a local park with a walking/bike path which would provide moderate, safer exercise that the bike lanes on the street. or so you would think. But a walker takes his/her life into his hands because the cyclists have limited distance sight and can come up on you with little warning. And how much pleasure or exercise can you enjoy when you're flinching and watching over your shoulder the whole time. But as humans will be humans and can't seem to live without warring with someone, we must live defensively. Courtesy doesn't cost a nickel but it's as rare as a pink panther diamond. All that said, one must release one's frustrations and flippin the bird can be enormously satisfying. I say flip two and call it stereo. if you need me i'm in the garden! t

Sarah said...

You go girl!! Flip your charming bird all you want, and if it results in a town bike lane I will promise to deliver home-made pesto sauce every week to your door step. How does that sound? xoxo

Dominique said...

whoa there! I am trying to share the road. I'm not occupying the center of the lane. I'm just not on the shoulder....Kinda hard to imagine how to say thanks to someone trying to pin me under their car (and is that press release a fantasy? or real?)

Neither driving a car nor riding a bike is a "right". Both are choices. And there must be a way to share the road...

and yes, that's my hand in the pic, and I cannot believe you can tell I need cream. But I do. You are right. Too much gardening, sand, and flipping of birds in full sun.

SweetRetreat said...

Imagine being enclosed in plastic cage at car tire / exhaust level, essentially trapped in exhaust fumes. What are parents thinking?

Anonymous said...

The last time I saw anyone give "The Finger" was last year....I was stunned then and I have to say I'm kinda stunned now.
We have a very difficult neighbor...very inconsiderate...sometimes she will nod and maybe say Hi, others walk right past you and give you an icy glare.
I have learned to ignore her moods and even have some compassion for her, it must be tough to be so unhappy. There is nothing worse then having to see her down turned sour mouth coming down our walk (we share one).
As I mentioned above, my husband has asked her on occasion to park more considerately, so she doesn't block the walk with her vehicle, ect.
Last year, she drove in, parking her car in between 2 spaces (ours & hers)and blocked the walk. My husband came in right after her and asked her to straighten out her car and pull back a bit...her response..you guessed it, she turned around, and gave him the finger, and kept right on walking!
So, my point is we lead by example, this women is a teacher in the local high school, and you Dominique are a mother of 2 boys, that probably see this blog. I'm not judging you, I just don't think its a good idea. Someone has to set the bar here. I know if I got that angry and gave someone the finger in front of my kids or anyone I would greatly regret it...
a minute of self satisfaction, for a lifetime of an ugly crude memory that someone has of you.
By the way, you are lucky you didn't fall off your bike trying to give someone the finger and ride with one hand!

david terry said...


I hope that, in my comment, I sufficiently emphasized that I was referring only to bikers with baby-trailors..and only in this pretty, old neighborhood where the streets were laid before there even were cars. Consequently, the streets are 1.5 lanes wide, at most.....and there are cars parked on both sides (many of the houses, such as my own, don't even HAVE driveways).

On the brighter side of the siutuation? The neighborhood associations and groups from Duke (which is just a few blocks away) have pressured the city to build designated bike lanes in various locales....and the bike lanes WORK very-very well for everyone involved (which would be anyone on the road, whatever they're driving).

I don't really have a dog in this race (beyond my general distaste for dead babies) since I don't actually have any children, haven't been on a bike since sometime during the Reagan adminstration, and drive so very little that the car I bought "new" three years ago has only 700 miles on it.


I mentioned "de-luxe" brand shea butter. I learned of it from an elderly friend who suffers a great deal from severe eczema/psoriasis. this stuff WORKS (unlikje the wildly-priced varieties that promise you that they "contain" shea butter. This is 100% the-real-stuff. Oddly enough, Herve knows of it from his early days setting up women's clinics in Brukia-Faso (where the dang nuts actually grow, it turns out). It's only about 10 bucks for a good-sized, 4 oz jar (trust me...it's THICK, so you don't need much). No animal testing....cruelty free, biodegradeable, no preservatives, etc. Just google "deluxe shea butter". I get it from "drugstore.com".

I give it to all my friends who USE their hands (gardening, cooking, painting, etc) and can't be bothered with gloves. also any of my friends who are over 65 (which is about half of them, it seems).

----david terry

Judith Ross said...

Ordering some of that hand cream for my husband, who exemplifies the definition of "helpful man," and as a result has hands like sandpaper.

William said...


You go girl!!

As a cyclist in Manhattan who commutes by bike on my Dutch Churchill Classic commuter bike (I recommend these bike to all - awesome!) - and who rides for recreation in the park on my road bike - I'm very connected into the bike world here in the city.

There is a bit of a war going on here in Manhattan between cyclists and the rest (mostly old Community Board ladies who hate to see anyone enjoying themselves) - inspired, I think, by our great mayor's initiative to build more and more bike lanes and as the opponents claim, "he wants to turn this city into Amsterdam or Copenhagen!" - and the problem with that is what exactly? The ladies are out in force in the park to yell at bikers who dare to try to ride across the park on empty sidewalks - just yesterday one screamed at me as a dismounted at her request and remounted 20 feet later and continued my ride - "IT'S PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO RUIN THIS CITY" - yes, I shot her a BIRD with my well-moisturized hand!!

That said, when I'm driving I hate pedestrians and cyclists - when I am a pedestrian I hate drivers and cyclists - and when I am cycling I hate drivers and pedestrians - and I always hate rollerbladers under any circumstance.

I do like the quote, however, of one of the leaders of my particular community board who said when discussing the 'bike situation' in the park at a meeting, "Central Park is so overused at times that it is disgusting!".

Olmstead and Vaux would be proud of their great park in hearing that.

david terry said...

P.S. (to Judith Ross, and having nothing to do with bicycles):

One of my favorite, recent tales of my mother (who is one of those delightful folks who doesn't have the slightest idea that he/she is terribly & chronically amusing....she's never, in my experience of her, EVER told a joke, and she never understands why everyone's laughing half the time):

(1) It's been at least 15 years since I've worn regular shoes more than a few hours per week, which is when I OCCASIONALLY drive a car or a roto-tiller. I spend my days barefoot....winter and summer. Consequently, I gather my feet "look" pretty horrible (not that I spend a lot of time looking at or caring about their appearance).

(2) My mother was recently visiting here and, one morning when I was predictably yabbering & clattering away at the breakfast table about something, I paused to take a breath (I do this, very occasionally)....and my mother (who'd cast her eyes down while she sipped her coffee) suddenly murmured, apropos of nothing else being discussed and to no one in particular, "Oh, Lord.......your POOR feet...."

I asked what in the Sam-Hill she was talking about, and she said "your FEET....they're just.....AWFUL...would you do me a favor and go put some of that hand stuff on them?...I just can't look at what you've done to them....".

Isn't that funny? She actually said that. She's 74, and I'm 50...and I realized that she was considering all those days, months, and years she spent taking care of her precious baby...who then grew up, went off, took up smoking and drinking, and generally let his (hers, as far she's concerned) body go to merry hell....

In any case, I did what I've always done, which is to do what she says while she's actually looking....and I put Shea butter on my "poor" feet.

Try it on your husband.

Amusedly as ever,

David Terry
P.S 2.......typo correction: The country is BURKINA-FASO. I always have to resist the temptation to refer to it as "Bikini-Faster"....

Deborah A said...

Well! Is our William back in the fold? It must be, I do believe William was from Manhattan! I guess it took Dominique riding around her neighborhood, giving the finger to the idiots driving too close to her bike to get you back. Your comment is so true....because there are idiot cyclists and idiot car drivers.
I see drivers flying through bike crossings and bikes in the road where they shouldn't be.
David, I just ordered Deluxe Shea butter for my garden and sun dried out hands and arms. Thanks for the tip!

karenleslie said...

welcome back william. good to hear your voice again.

Dominique said...

OK, OK. You all are right. I must stop flipping the bird. I must lead by example. So true. I know it in my heart. And in my head. Just sometimes, a person cracks...and..

Besides, my sons have already seen me be vulgar. They are suitably impressed when it happens, as they know it is rare.

But I'm going to restrain myself from now on. When people side swipe me, I'm going to yell WHAT IN SAM-HILL ARE YOU DOING? HAVE A NICE DAY, DANG IT! There. I already feel better.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

At the obvious risk of seeming to correct someone living within your zip-code?.....

It's "What in THE Sam-Hill are you doing?". You have got to stick in the "THE" (and howz THAT for an elegant sentence?)

That's what you say when you're liable to get your mouth popped off if you say "the hell".

I know....your daddy's from Kentucky (which was always a fence-sitting state to begin with). Still?...I can tell that, like "VL", you have both got yourselfs half-French mommmers from Moracco (sp?).

Bascially, neither of you could pass for real "country" even if you would of gone and tried.

anyways, my biggest and #1 point is its' "the Sam Hill"....try recalling that famous scene from the scandalous "To Kill A Mockingbird" in which Young Miss Scout reacts to that boys' pouring Kayro syrup all OVER his nice lunch when she already invites him back home.

Level Best as Ever,

david terry
(who is deeply fromhere and still tells folks to f***k themselves on a very regular basis....and, I just plain-out SAY it. I don't bother with "giving the finger". I assume that such Middle-class niceties can be safely reserved for folks such as Bristol Palin....and isn't SHE a piece of work?)

Thea said...

sometimes you gotta be you, dang it.

karenleslie said...

when someone cuts me off in traffic or tailgates and then whips around me, i sometimes like to give them a little honk, wave furiously and flash my biggest smile and say aloud (to myself usually), "thank you SO much. you are SUCH an asshole."

Cristina said...

and I thought everywhere else in the world, but here in Rome, people were bikers friendly.
by the way, not only cars, buses & motorbikes haven't the slightest respect toward bikers but even pedestrians, i.e. crossing the road carelessly and suddenly, mockingly ignoring who's pedalling toward them.
Cycling in San Francisco??? your son has to be a real "sport monster" with all those endless, steep hills...

Earth Ocean Sky Redux said...

Some towns have enacted a law where a motorist can not come any closer to a cyclist than x-feet. In Vail, where our daughter lived, it was 3 feet and such a stupid rule it was. The mountain roads are narrow and while most want to give the cyclist space and be considerate, when forced to do so, and often putting yourself in jeopardy, it is bureaucracy run amok.

To William: My best friend was run over by a cyclist who paid no heed to either the rules of the road or the speed in Central Park. He fled, giving HER the finger for getting in HIS way (which she had not); she broke her wrist trying to break her fall. The runners and walkers I know in CP are happy to share with bicyclists but "share" is the operative word. BTW, do you actually KNOW personally any community board ladies who hate bicyclists or is that your assumption? I'm curious.

Dominique: I live in the same town you do and am always on my bike. I've never been met with anyone who hasn't gone out of their way to go around me, or even stop or slow down when two cars and a bike can't safely go. It's funny how two residents can have completely opposite experiences. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience! You can at least count on me to drive by you with caution...and respect.

david terry said...

P.S. (#4692)

A 28 year old neighbor of mine who'd read my comments on this board stopped by yesterday to pick up some bags of zucchini. She's sort of horrifyingly ACTIVE by my standards...

she told me "I read what you wrote...that gave me an idea....I'm just going to get a baby-trailor, put a couple of bricks in it, and then see if people in cars get out of my way THEN.....or at least slow down".

I told her "good luck".


David Terry (who is about to start up his automobile and go on errands for the first time in something around two weeks; even I think that's a bit too odd....).

sparkletruly said...

I didn't see one important comment in the "comments," which is that cities/states, communities have a responsibility - in my opinion - to educate car drives about the rights of cyclists, and provide rules of the road for sharing said road with them. I think some car drivers are just plain rude and some cyclists take far too many risks. But I find that while cyclists generally know where and how to ride on streets and roads, most motorists are clueless. As to flipping people off versus telling a driver who nearly killed you to have a nice day, that's a personal choice of the moment. It's easy to say one would be polite in that situation, essentially taking the high road, if one hasn't been there.

JudyMac said...

Unfortunately, there are a lot of nasty people behind the wheel nowdays. My grandmother, long since gone, used to call them "a bunch of yahoos" when they would fly up and down the dirt road that ran by her home (deep in Appalachia). As Herman Cain says, "Be careful out there--there's a lot of crazy people on the road!" and seemingly not much we can do about their lack of road manners.

Dominique said...

Earth Ocean Sky Redux: Lucky you! Just this afternoon a grey pickup nearly pushed me off the edge, going so fast he kicked up sand. Perhaps it is the one little stretch of West Main. But okay. I said, WhatTHEsamhill and then I said F...you and then I said Haveanicedayasshole and then ohnevermind.

And yes, sparkletruly, community ed would help. So would trading places, for just a day.

david terry said...


I just read your last comment to Herve (who's heard from me about this very interesting comment-thread over the weekend).

He just said (and I'm quoting) "Oh, that's so American....the people driving SUV's feel powerful...and the people riding bicycles feel VIRTUOUS and athletic. Everyone seems to think that your method of transporting yourself is another means of....what is it?....oh, 'SELF EXPRESSION'....something by which other people might gauge your worth."

He may, indeed, have a point. How did all of this become so f****ng IDEOLOGICAL and "personal"?

David Terry (who rarely goes anywhere by any means when I'm in this country, as you might have discerned by now....and this is probably the point at which I should admit that Herve does ALL the driving up to Virginia and certainly all the driving in Europe. I'm scared shitless(as the French, themselves, say) of cars since a very awful childhood incident/wreck, and I never drive unless absolutely forced to do so. Thus, my "advice" and opinions are worth scarcely anything. Oddly enough, I have no problem whatsoever with airplanes and/or taxies in big cities, so I use them all the time).

laurie said...

I absolutely LOVE this post for lots of reasons.....the finger - can't be more vocal.....the experience, the battle for the cause "share the road" (obviously means nothing to some people)...we all avoid splatters on the car! ....you really made my day - I could go on but I'll just re-read your post! :)

Earth Ocean Sky Redux said...

Dominique: I have the answer. Wear a helmet cam, record the near-misses and speeders, add a page to your blog called Share The Road, post photos of the offenders license plate with a 'Take That' tag line. You might not get invited to any more cocktail parties after you post the photo of a neighbor running you off the road, but hey, who needs friends anyway?!

I find walkers are just as much of a nuisance as bikers. This morning, going into town for breakfast, four women, walking abreast, wouldn't move over, requiring me to go so far around them that I scared another woman walking with her dog - who was on the wrong side of the street. All this drama before 7am!

profA said...

Well, Ms Dominique, you struck a nerve here. Good for you, but please be careful on your bicycle! Until this society develops a tolerant nature, like the Dutch, a great cycling society "live and let live" as its cultural cornerstone, it will not be safe for mixed travel media on our roads. We lived in the Netherlands for four years umpty years ago. If you want to cycle you have your own lane and merely have to look out for the bromfietsers, who are so noisy that you can hear them 1/2 a kilometer away.

Though I have been known to flip the finger to other drivers (often 20 somethings texting madly), my children used to admonish me strongly, 'cause in DC one never knows what one's fellow citizen is packing. Sad, but true.

Writing this post viewing of "finger" video. Wonderful. Thanks.


Deborah A said...

Today I was driving the back roads (6A)into Hyannis. My favorite route, I love it and rarely have any problems....today, though, a New Yorker cut me off, I really tried to give that New Yorker the finger....I just couldn't, I guess I'm not the finger giving type. I did however say "Asshole", that did give me satisfaction.
P.S. I know I shouldn't say "NEW YORKER" in a bad light as my son now lives in New York. But truly they are the most aggressive drivers and people. Connecticut drivers and people come next. This knowledge comes from 28 consecutive summers on Cape Cod.

Lynn said...

We have a three-foot clearance rule in Maine and you're allowed to pass on a double line "when safe to do so". The problem is that rather than slowing down behind cyclists, cars here now routinely swerve wildly around them into the opposite lane regardless of oncoming traffic. They're so focused on the cyclist, and the idea of just slowing down to control their vehicle is so unthinkable, they put the cyclists, themselves, AND the oncmoing vehicle in danger. And yes as a driver those baby trailers weaving in and out of traffic scare the heck out of me too. Unbelievable. What would be funny if it weren't pathetic is that people will actually put a helmet on the baby they're pulling in that tent on wheels. This makes it safe for the child?