A Bad Ride
I left the house this morning with Little Girl in the trailer and extra shoes in my basket. C forgot them at our house this weekend and I had to drop the off at her school. The sun was shining. It was a little chilly, but not too bad. I stopped at the bank and deposited the leftover tractor money. Then I headed out to Little Girl’s play date at the park.
I planned my route to avoid 8th St (read six lane of traffic) and took Main St instead. Despite the name it is one lane of traffic in each direction with a parking lane on each side and a grassy boulevard in the middle through a residential area. It is usually quiet and scenic and there are a couple of school zones and a bunch of parks.
As I am about to describe this, I want to start out by saying My Town does NOT support vehicular cycling. Bike must ride as close to the parking lane as is safe. Mostly, that puts us right in the door zone, but it also means that cars try to squeeze past the bikes often with out giving them the meager 50cm of passing distance required by law. Since the bike trailer is wider than a bike, (hello Captain Obvious!), generally I am right on the edge of the lane markers, but except for swerving to avoid suddenly open doors, I stay in the non-lane where I am legally required to. I bike with a helmet. I have lights, reflectors and a bell. I don’t wear dark clothing. If the intersection is busy, I will make a legal pedestrian crossing. I obey all traffic laws and I always choose side streets. I am very aware that I am biking with my daughter and I do everything I can to make that as safe as possible.
Which is why I was very surprised to find a huge, full sized moving truck less than three feet behind Little Girl’s bike trailer honking and yelling at us. I heard the F word. I heard “Get off the road!” but mostly what I heard was engine noise. They were so close there was no way their stopping distance was less than their following distance. There is no way their stopping distance is less than straight over my daughter and myself and I am on an older bike that on my last ride had two breakdowns. So I was trapped between a truck so big I couldn’t even see the driver behind me, a lane of parked cars on my right, a treed boulevard on my left and no where to go but to keep going. If I hit a patch of gravel or have bike problems Little Girl and I are going under their wheels. They are so close I bet they can’t even see her trailer anymore. They are so close I can’t even stop to wave them past. There isn’t anywhere to wave them past.
And they aren’t giving me any space and all I can here is honking and engine noise and the background sound of them yelling at me.
And Little Girl Crying.
I was shaking and crying too. It was horrible.
Finally after a block and a half of expecting to run over any second, there is a place to pull over and they pass me and turn right at the stop sign.
You would think that if you are going to threaten to run someone down, you would do it in an unmarked car, but no. This person and his passenger who didn’t think the behavior was inappropriate enough to tell the driver to back off did so in a company truck.
I sat on the corner and shook and cried. It was about 9:30 am. My bike computer had me going 25kms. Which is half the speed limit, but we were on a side street in a residential area. A normal car would have been able to pass, but the truck was so big it needed every inch of the lane. I don’t know what it was doing on a side street anyway. Trying to avoid traffic on the arterial one street over?
Then I got up and biked to the LBS and used their phone to call 911 and I cried to the dispatcher. Then I bike down to the police station and cried at the desk Sargent.
I spent over an hour filing a report. It is being forwarded to traffic, but I don’t have a witness. There were at least two people in that truck and all they have to say is that they went another way and this never happened.
But it did. It was awful. It was terrifying.
T called and spoke to some one at Geransky’s. I didn’t think I could without crying some more.
I am acutely aware of this article as I write this. But this is what I experienced and how it made me feel.
It was one incident and it isn’t going to keep me off my bike, but I will admidt that my hands started shaking as I put Little Girl back in the trailer to go to the optometrist this afternoon.