I had to sleep on this one. The 2.5-year BikeNoodle record for eliminating harassment/aggression ended last night as I was Traveling at the Speed of Bike for less than three minutes on the only main road to my home from a book reading where I was one of the featured authors (reading from a book which includes a chapter about BikeNoodle). (The record still stands for 100% elimination of illegal passing.) (UPDATE: That record was broken several weeks later.)
I heard the honking from a few cars behind me about 20 seconds earlier (when I had to take the lane during a narrow strip of road — see video below) and knew something was coming. You can see the young man who hung out the passenger window and shouted at me (in the screenshot from my Go Pro) after I had moved into a merge lane to let the cars behind me pass. That’s the best shot I got of it (the license plate capture was blurry as well), and I couldn’t make out the words. I’m deciding that perhaps I misunderstood his intention and he actually said, “You rock. Thank you. I’m heading to City Hall to advocate for safe spaces for vulnerable road users first thing tomorrow morning!”
I’m trying to focus on the lovely event at Crema, when I asked folks to close their eyes and I rang a bike bell and an entire room of people with closed eyes started smiling at whatever memory the sound conjured. (When asked, some raised their hands and said, “1955!” “The ice cream man who rode a bike!” “Amsterdam!” “My green bike around my neighborhood when I was growing up!”) Maybe these young men in the car didn’t ride bikes as kids? Maybe they don’t realize that harassing a 55-year-old woman on a bike riding legally in a “family-friendly” city, just trying to get home, is not really cool? I can’t lie. It bothered me. Mostly, it made me sad, on a day when I had given a bike class and read from my book and met so many nice people and was feeling good.
If you know these young men (by somehow overhearing them talk about this), maybe have a little chat with them? Let’s skip the “boys will be boys’ excuse on things like this, ok?
Oh, and by the way, a friend enumerated for me how often he gets yelled at and passed illegally, and you know what? I have become used to riding with zero harassment and aggression as well as zero illegal passing for over two years now both locally and elsewhere and I no longer accept it as normal or dignified.