When I ride my bike on the road, I wear a high-vis vest, I have a blinking tailight, and I chose roads very carefully based on speed limit, shoulder width, and of course, hilliness. I ride in the road as that is what I am supposed to do. I obey traffic laws and signal my intent at intersections.
This morning, while riding along, minding my own business, I was honked at. Confused, I looked over and saw a woman in a van nobly gesturing to me and then forcefully pointing at the parallel sidewalk. Her implication was clear that she wanted me to be on the sidewalk despite my shoulder riding and despite the fact that she had the width of two lanes in which to get around me. I immediately went crazy, at least by my standards, and shouted at her. I remember repeating "no" quite a bit, and then pointed to myself and shouting "I am a vehicle!" I didn't even curse, which was surprising to me, and I didn't do any rude gestures in her direction.
Despite my anger, I didn't stop to lecture her further at the red light, but merely made a point of signaling and turned away, secretly hoping that she was also turning. She didn't, thankfully. I do wonder if she thought she was doing a public service and hoped that I would immediately stop and move to the sidewalk? Did she think that I had arrived on the side of the road by accident? I don't know, but I'm not sure she thought I would start flying off the handle. This thought amuses me.
So, I just want to have, for the blogging record, some biking ground rules written down.
Firstly, I am well within my rights as a cyclist to be in the road. I can take the whole lane if I want.
I am not within my rights as a cyclist to be on the sidewalk as this woman suggested. That is because the sidewalk is aptly named and is for walking. You would not suggest to a motorcyclist to ride on the sidewalk. That would be absurd.
It is more than a courtesy to give three feet of birth to a cyclist. In fact, in my state, it is a law. And, for the record, three feet is a whole yard stick. This is a tricky concept sometimes.
It is legal to slow down to pass me. It is also legal to wait until it is safe to pass me.
Now, this morning I found I was so angry that I was literally shouting "I am full of rage!" as I rode down the next road. Despite my mantra of not bearing her ignorance on my shoulders, I was having a hard time calming down. Then I briefly wished that I had stopped and had a chat with her at the red light. But, then I figured it would have been less public education and more me shouting at a stranger which would have been counterproductive to say the least. But I might have felt better! Damn conscience. No I wouldn't have, but thanks to the blog, I do feel better now.
Please respect cyclists. We know we're a pain in the ass.