I hope VT won't mind me stealing two of her stories for my blog. I don't think she reads it anyway, so unless one of YOU tells her.....
It is well documented that cyclists and motorists don't see eye-to-eye about just WHO belongs on the road and when, and sometimes confrontations result. I have been known to give motorists the one-finger salute on a few occasions myself, like when they blow the horn at me or throw something out the car window or turn directly in front of me, as happened on yesterday's ride. I am sure that her cell phone conversation was way more important than a total stranger's little old life.
VT takes no crap from drivers whatsoever. Once she was riding near her home (did I mention riding where she lives resembles a kamikaze mission?) and a car came too close to her. That happens a lot. I know most drivers aren't aware of how close they come to us, and it's also hard for them to judge our speed. (If it's me they're behind, they should just use "zero" as a guide and go from there. They won't miss it far.) I don't think most of them deliberately try to scare the bejeezus out of us, but it happens. I don't know if VT had had one too many of those encounters that day, if she was tired because she was near the end of her ride (although I've NEVER known her to be tired), or if she was just menopausal. Before the car got past her, she screamed enough obscenities to make Ron White blush. That may be an exaggeration, but I think she managed to get out "GD" "MF" "a-hole" and "SOB." That was all before the car got all the way past her, because immediately AFTER it was past, she realized it was a policeman.
He stopped, and VT did too. He demanded to know what she said, but VT was too smart to repeat it. I think he got the general gist of it anyway. He kept asking her what she said, and she said it didn't matter what she said, that he came too close to her bicycle. They went back and forth for a while, and the policeman finally admitted that he was in the wrong. But VT could tell he was itching for her to repeat what she had yelled at him.
The more recent incident scares me for VT just a little, and I hope it gives her pause before she repeats her actions. Another car came too close to her while she was riding, and then they both got to an intersection where the light was red. Never bashful about speaking her mind, VT rode up to the driver's side window and knocked on it. The windows were tinted too darkly for her to see inside the car. The driver rolled down the window, and the driver was a surly, angry African-American male. Not to be dissuaded, VT challenged him. "You came awfully close to me back there. What's your problem, do you not like cyclists?"
And the driver responded, "No, I just don't like white people."
Encounters like those sometimes make me just a little uneasy about riding alone. I certainly hope that I won't lose my cool to the point where I put my safety in jeopardy.
I think some of the conflict between cyclists and motorists results from a lack of understanding. I fear that some cyclists who are also drivers forget what it is like to be behind the wheel and come up on a bicyclist. I also am pretty sure that some of them are a-holes and irritate drivers for the sheer pleasure of it.
I was riding alone one day, about a mile and a half from my house, when I came to a 4-way stop. I've been through that 4-way stop a thousand times. There was a car in front of me, and I moved over to the center of my lane and stopped behind her. She glanced in her rearview mirror, then she leaned across the front seat and locked the passenger door.
Seriously? I know we look a little goofy in our spandex and wild colors (the wild colors have a PURPOSE, people, we're not making fashion statements!), but did I look threatening to her? I was a little offended, but I didn't let it get to me. I just chalked it up to further proof that cyclists and motorists just don't understand each other very well. I'm doing my best to educate the world, but it's a slow process.