Last night, as I tried to make an unprotected left turn against 3 lanes of cars I thought to myself "This just proves that I am not a vehicle". I have neither the power nor the safety features to compete on a level with the cars.
This morning that was brought home again to me, in a scary way.
I live on a one-way 1.5 lane urban street (enough room to double-park, but not really two lanes). My husband and I rode to the red light and stopped, as is the law. There was a car behind us who wanted to make a right on red. Being reasonable people we moved to the left, me more than he, and the car turned right.
The light then changed. I proceeded into the intersection, crossing it somewhat diagonally to make my way over to the right-hand side of the street. While I was in the intersection a BMW SUV going about 45 miles per hour swerves and honks and nearly clips me. She was insistent on her "right" to go about 2X the speed limit down this tiny one-way residential street. Thank God I wasn't turning left, I would be dead.
Naturally we caught her at the first red light. I was able to see into the car and saw she was looking over her new parking ticket. I imagine that played into her algorithm of aggression towards me.
I told her "You need to chill out". She told me to get out of the road. I started to get really angry at this point and told her it was the law that I ride in the road. She said I had to be at the side of the road. In retrospect I could have tried to explain what had happened with the other car, but really - is there anything I can do in the road that merits that kind of aggression? She just kept repeating that she had a car and all I have is a bike. This is the exact same statement another man used for acting in the same way towards my husband a while ago.
With people like that in cars I know we will never be equals. There is evasive action I must take as a cyclist in order to stay safe.
Later this morning I was stopped at a red light. There were at least 10 cars stopped with me. I looked ahead and there was a Construction Zone sign taking up the bike lane. I knew that I would have to move left into the car's lane in order to get past it. I looked both ways and ran the red light, getting beyond the sign and back in the bike lane before the cars caught up, making the whole thing less confusing and thus safer for everyone. This is a violation of the "Same Road, Same Rights, Same Rules" idea, but for the better.
There were some cops directing traffic outside my office this morning. I was shaken up enough to stop and run all these experiences past them.
- With respect to running the red light (I confessed!!!) they said that what I did this morning was reasonable and courteous, despite the tickets given in Cambridge to cyclists running reds.
- In the situation with the lady in the SUV, they said that I should just get the plate number. I can submit it to the RMV and get a hearing. They will listen to both of us and possibly take disciplinary action. I asked if it would help create a history of aggressive behavior, should she do worse next time and he said it would. I think it is worth getting the license plate next time, just in case.