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Open Letter to the Lady Who Yelled At Me This Morning

It was very safe for you, inside your silver Lexus SUV. You, armored inside steel and shining glass, so easily rolled down your power windows to yell “get off the road!” at me, clinging to the steel frame of my bike.
The lights were in your favor, so I didn’t catch you at a light to give back a piece of my mind.
My first thought was, “what the hell? I pay taxes on this road, too, bitch. As long as I’m following the rules of traffic–which I am–I have every right to be on this road.”
Every vehicle northbound on 24th had to stop at the light by the market and the library. Obviously I’m a little slower to start up again than those with combustion engines, but, also obviously, there are two lanes of traffic, so you were able to pass me within two blocks.
The first time someone threw a verbal assualt from their vehicle at me (old pickup truck, intersection of 65th & Roosevelt) I teared up in shock and outrage. This time, it burned in my chest for a few blocks, then I started thinking not about my justifications for riding on the street, but wondering what your issues are.
Maybe you were legitimately in a hurry. Maybe there was a sick child in the back seat, and you, in a fury of mother love and responsibility, rained down unthinking hate on anything between you and the hospital.
Maybe you were up all night, working on a business presentation, or consoling a friend on a long-distance phone call about some crisis. You were late for work, you had a meeting on the eastside at 9, you needed to make the pitch to the big guy to keep your job, the one that pays for things like Lexus SUVs.
Then again, maybe it wasn’t your car at all. Maybe you are the spoiled teenage brat, borrowing Daddy’s car to drive to school. The senior so close to graduation, so close to being spat out into the real world, but still with no idea how the real world will treat you, or how you should treat others.
Or maybe you’re just so high class that you can’t stand any cheap vehicle on the streets. Maybe you’d shout out the window at old Hondas or crummy-ass Nissans, if you thought they could hear you over that dreadful music.
But my favorite theory is that you’re just jealous. Wherever you’re going, on a Friday morning, you’ll probably end up stuck in some sort of traffic. And you’ll be in traffic on the way home. And in between, you’ll probably have to pay for parking, while those of us with bikes merrily scoot through the edges of your exhaust filled pile-ups, and pay nothing for parking spots right outside of wherever we’re going, all while getting our recommded daily dose of exercise.
So I forgive you for your jealousy, and for your irritation, and I hope that one day, when you’re stuck in traffic on I-90, and watching the cyclists shoot by in the bike lane, you’ll realize that you could get one too, and it could be just as shiny as your Lexus.
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7 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Lady Who Yelled At Me This Morning

  1. I just have to say that I don’t ride a bike or own a bike because, frankly, I would be too chicken to ride it in the city unless I could ride on a sidewalk, but I think this is really well said. I think that lady was just a Biznatch ; )

  2. Weird. I think that I was driving behind the SUV that was behind you. At first, I wondered what was holding up traffic and then I saw the bike and thought, “Oh, that’s cool.” but wondered what happened as the SUV zoomed around you because it didn’t seem normal. The lanes on 24th aren’t very well-marked in places and I think that frustrates some people and having a bicyclist in front of them creates even more anxiety. When I encounter people like that I always take refuge in the fact they will inevitably wreck their shiny ego-boosters due to their own recklessness. Here’s to happier travels.

  3. You are brave. When I was at the university heading back home, I would pull off a few blocks before your incident at Interlaken and ride through the park to the Hill. If you are ever feeling tired of those maniacs flying up 24th/23rd, try this instead,-122.307401&geocode=FV7Y1gIdatO1-A%3BFT7f1gId4721-A%3B&hl=en&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=2&sz=15&via=1&dirflg=w&sll=47.63336,-122.305983&sspn=0.020677,0.038624&ie=UTF8&t=p&z=15

  4. Mike, as an ex-lead-foot driver I can say from experience you’re right, those impatient, reckless drivers will get what’s coming to them. I always rode around impatiently and went through about 4 cars and a lot of headache. I learned my lesson and embraced the cycling lifestyle. Now I can’t imagine ever owning a car for the rest of my life. This is the long-term argument that cycling will win out in the end, but short-term conflict is always going to be inevitable. Just don’t get stuck in a them vs. us mentality, because ‘they’ will be ‘us’ one day.

  5. I do want it to be clear that this is an exception — I’ve been commuting regularly for three years now, and this is the maybe the second or third time I’ve been yelled at with malice.

    And Wes– I do go home up the side route you mention, but going in, 23rd/24th is the quickest, straightest route. If the lights all line up, a cyclist could easily hit 25 mph all the way to the intersection at the bridge. If traffic is piled up at the lights down there, I am probably switching to the sidewalk, and continuing on the sidewalk over the Montlake Bridge. My deal with myself is that you have to follow car rules or pedestrian rules — too many cyclists switch back and forth, and then drivers don’t know what to expect from you.

    Of course, I am also grateful to know that she saw me in the first place–

  6. Alaskalainen, this is wonderful. Thank you. I will think of this every time I get verbally abused by nasty drivers who don’t understand the beauty of self-propulsion.

  7. Who cares what the person was driving? An asshole driver is an asshole driver, regardless of what sort of vehicle they are operating. Would you have been any less pissed if the lady was driving a Prius? What if, gasp, that Lexus SUV was a hybrid? Get over yourself, whiner.