Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Close Encounters of the Third-ish Kind

S - 19,400 yards
B - 159.9 miles
R - 46.7 miles

Time - 19.73 hours

Not a bad week, all in all. I had a widduw case of da snuffews towards the end of the week which meant I missed a bike ride but I swam one extra workout so I suppose in some ways it all works out in the end.

I am going to write about my week by writing about how much I hate ignorance.  Ignorance is NOT bliss.  Being ignorant or intolerant are inexcusable in today's world of immediate and readily accessible information.

That is a preface to my story.  I was in the process of completing the last 15 minutes of my Sunday ride (had been riding for ~3.5hrs at this point).  I was traveling along Selwyn Avenue in front of Queens University.

For those not familiar with this point here is what it looks like with no cars:

You can see the "sharrow" adjacent to the lane of travel adjacent to the parking lane (which is usually quite full of cars in the parking spots you can see on the screen shot.  Sharrows are designed to give a car and a cyclist proper indication of where the cyclist CAN ride.  When cars are parked on the right it is recommended that a cyclist travel at LEAST a door's width away from the parked car (in the sharrow).

It is the responsibility of the driver in the traveling vehicle to know that a cyclist is allowed to do that (ride the "red" line).  I was following this methodology and had gotten past the end of these parked cars to the point where the sharrows end (because the parking lane ends) and moved over to the right.

Basically as seen in the picture above.  Once that "lane" ends it is the responsibility of the cyclist to move to the right (as much as is safe).  The road out past the crosswalk is actually quite wide (1.75-2 lanes worth probably) so there is usually quite ample room for both cyclists and cars (even if cyclists choose to ride side-by side which IS NOT permissible under Mecklenburg County Laws but NCDOT does not designate specifically).

I was past the cross walk when I heard a loud acceleration and was passed extremely closely by a large white truck.  It seemed quite intentional (or a bad mistake) given that the other lane of travel was quite clear (as a sidenote, it is technically illegal to pass a cyclist and cross solid yellow lines) so I got a little upset about this.

My reaction was to accelerate and catch up to the vehicle when it arrived at a stop light at Selwyn and Queens Rd. I was aggravated and (while slightly "ahead" of the offending vehicle, who was 2nd or 3rd in line at the stoplight to cross Queens Rd) yelled at the driver (who had his windows down) to the effect of "You only gave me this much space!!! While holding my hands ~1ft apart.  I was upset and the driver yelled back at me something along the lines of "You only deserve THIS much space," while holding his hands a couple of inches of space.

That made me annoyed (to put it mildly) and when the light turned green I went across the intersection to continue on my way home down Selwyn.  As I reached the other side of Queens (on Selwyn, which now has a bike lane) I heard another loud engine acceleration and looked over my left shoulder to see the truck's front panel over my shoulder.

The intersection of Selwyn (southbound) and Queens Rd - red represents my line of travel
I yelled at the driver: "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HAPPENS TO ME IF YOU HIT ME WITH YOUR TRUCK!?" and he responded by swerving (noticeably swerving) into me in the bike lane.  I put my left hand on his wheel-well panel as he "pushed" me further towards the curb.  At this point, his right wheel was easily half-way into the bike lane and I was riding that concrete "apron" you can see ~12'' of in the picture above.  We were not traveling fast at this point, but I was yelling pretty vociferously at this guy who was yelling back at me.  I could literally not believe this was actually happening in the middle of one of the most ridden intersections in Charlotte.  He eventually pulled off and accelerated south on Selwyn.

I was then passed by an SUV with the windows down who gave me a very wide berth (thank you) and I really wanted to ask him if he'd be a witness but he did not look at me at all or offer any kind of acknowledgement.

In another bright moment I managed to catch back up to the vehicle in question while stopped at the red light on Selwyn at Woodlawn.  The driver was continuing straight on Selwyn and I pulled in behind him and took out my camera.  Unfortunately my phone/camera was in a zip-loc bag but I pretended like I was taking a picture of his vehicle from behind while also memorizing his license plate number.

As I was looking at my phone behind him he opened the sliding rear window of his truck and say "This is for you mother f***er" as he gave me (and the camera he was assuming) the middle finger.  I told him he had a nice license plate number and that he was a big guy in that big truck.  He responded by saying I was giving cyclists a bad name and that he had video of me too (as a sitenote, video of me what...obeying the rules of the road?? wtf? and ME giving CYCLISTS a bad name? I'll admit cyclists can be ridiculous when it comes to cars but I was doing NOTHING that could resemble pushing the envelope of the law).  I was sure he was lying but I was kind of in disbelief at the whole situation.

Just before the green light he ended our wonderful interaction with a:

"Suck my d*** you fa****"

I found it interesting THAT is what he said at the very end.  Some latent homophobic tendencies come out and all of a sudden this turns attempted assault with a deadly weapon (his vehicle) into a hate crime.

All in all, I was pretty mad about this.  I don't generally get particularly confrontational and a cyclist never wins against a car but it is just SO FRUSTRATING the number of drivers who are completely ignorant of the rules of the road as it relates to cyclists. I have the RIGHT to my space on the road whereas they simply have the PRIVILEGE of driving.  Driving a vehicle is not a right they/we are owed.  It is something you EARN.  Clearly, a majority of the population do not deserve that privilege.

I went through the proper steps online to report an aggressive driver but there is not much else I can do since I have no video evidence or witness testimony.

It was a white quad-cab/crew-cab Chevrolet Silverado (late model) with the license plate number CP-8086 Weighted in the state of NC.  The drive was a middle aged Caucasian with long, dark hair and sunglasses.  He also had a fat middle finger.

Moving on is usually the best option.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While the driver of the truck was at fault, you did in fact make things worse by engaging him.
If you wanted to make your point, you should have recorded his information and posted via multiple social media sites. Just giving other cyclists a heads up.
His idiotic behavior has no excuse but neither does your childish poking of said idiot.
That is a clear example of making other cyclist look bad. Turn the other cheek and move on my friend.