Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Red Lights, Stop Signs and That Biker
Nothing like a pissing match at 545 AM. Really gets the adrenalin flowing. Elevates the heart rate. Provides the extra energy needed to haul ass to work. Such incidents also provide something to think about while moving about in the dark. But such benefits are ill gotten and if I could do it over again the whole confrontation would never had occurred. Where's that time machine? Can I get a do over.
I try hard not to be "that bicyclist." I really do. Stop at most red lights. I stop at most stop signs. I do not hog a lane just because legally I am entitled. I do not blow through intersections and lights like a meth addled maniac. But I have my standards.
STANDARD 1 If I cannot trip it I do not wait for green. Most traffic light signals cannot be triggered by a bicycle. True, I could leave the road and push a button and return to the road IF such a button existed. Many lights lack pedestrian buttons. I'd love to see a car driver get out of the vehicle to hit a button. Just once.
SO... when I roll up to a non-triggering light I usually stop past the white line. This allows a vehicle to pull in behind me and trigger the light cycle. If said vehicle does not follow I scan the area. No cars, then I continue on my way. Legal in Idaho.
This morning I had to stop downtown at the mothership and fill my panniers with supplies. This adds two miles to the commute. I had to stop at both Corp4 (the Z building) and Corp2 (Tower) as the PFG family call them. Since the literal changing of the guard, new security service, I am more apprehensive about wheeling in, parking the bicycle outside the dock and returning with an armload of goods at 540 AM. I expect to be questioned and hassled. My boss says that they are a bit "by the book." But the securitrons have yet to bother me.
Pulling out onto 9th I notice that the construction from months ago is still ongoing with a large orange sign taking up a lane. Across the intersection there is another large orange sign. There are cars behind me. I could weave through the construction but that would reduce my visibility and I'd hate to surprise a zombie driver at 541 AM. My plan is to take a left on High St and a right on 7th. I turn at the first intersection to avoid the lane closure. Mistake.
Now I am in front of Tower and Square (Corp1). My intention is to take a left on 8th and then an immediate right to cross campus to get to 7th. Simple. But the light was red. Here I am in the heart of PFG land, the heart of the cameras and the heart of the securitrons. I am officially doing company business. So I stop and wait.
There is one car coming up 8th so I wait for it to pass. My light is red anyway. As the car approaches it's turn signal (indicator in the UK FYI) starts up. Left turn. Now it is in recognizable range. Mid-2000 series Buick sedan, probably a LeSabre. Something an old farmer would drive. Nice looking, posh and comfy. My light is still red so I wait. The Buick stops.
I glance at the light again, red, then look at the car. handicap license plates. Maroon paint. Come old buddy, get a move on, 20 feet and you can be on your way. But he sits there indicating a left turn.
Glance at light, red as red can be. I look at him again. He is motioning me to move. He wants me to run a red light. My brain clicks into stubborn. Nope, not gonna do it. Red light, Mac, I aint breaking the law. Every Buick built in the last 15 years has power steering. They are easy cars to drive and turn.
At this point I am relating to you, dear reader, that I detest being patronized by cagers. I am not helpless. I do not need someone to stop and hold up traffic so I can cross the road like a family of ducks. Just get on with it and leave my presence and life is good. I am not so helpless at intersections that I need assistance, someone to cover my flank as I cross. I usually motion these people on. They do it out of the kindness of their hearts. But I do not need this charity.
So the 'capper in the Buick is now getting angry. I point to the light again. Red for me, green for him. The standoff finally ends when he turns into the wrong lane and passes between me and a parked car. nope, cannot pull up the few feet and make a legal turn. After passing me he gets into the proper lane and yells something at me. Brain clicks and the "asshole" and "wrong lane" sound forth from my mouth. Crap, is this on film? Did anyone but him hear this? PFG does not put up with violence and fights.
My fucking light is still red. Fuck it. Time to roll. He's probably going to Methodist Hospital. Time to visit mother in the ICU. Just leave and get to work.
So that's the dilemma when I ride. Tried to do the right thing and end up in a verbal altercation. Yes, he got the finger as well.