Tag Archives: a-holes

Summer 2012 Jerk Season

The good side of biking Chicago

Welcome to Jerk Season aka summer!

On Saturday, I set off on my bike, in a great mood, to the theater to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  I was biking on a busy but reasonable two-lane street, outside of the door zone, three feet from parked cars.  Suddenly, from far behind me I heard a honk, then two more as the car came closer.  HONK!  HOOONK!  HOOOOOOONK!  The car passed me extremely closely, as the driver screeched out the open window, “MOVE OUT OF MY FUCKING WAY, BITCH!!!”

I maintained my line and did not react at all.  About 30 yards later, I passed her and the many cars stopped in traffic in front of her, soon arriving at my destination.

The experience was unpleasant – obviously, like any sane person, I would prefer not to be assaulted while traveling – but I have to remember that there are always awful people in the world, whether I am driving or bicycling.  I had to deal with her for only a few seconds, while she is trapped in her own anger always.  It would have been nice if a police officer had magically been around to pull her over, but such is life.

Now I can add “bitch” to the list, along with “retard,” “asshole,”  and “moron,” drivers have yelled at me for no reason.  Not too bad, in four years of daily Chicago bicycling, but I prefer bicycling in the winter, when drivers keep their windows closed and I cannot hear their crazed screeching.

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Who is the A-hole? Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…

This is a post where I get to use our “a-holes” tag.

Yesterday morning, during the portion of my commute where I have to use a busy road, I approached an intersection (Wells & Division) with the green light and I kept a sharp eye on opposite traffic to make sure no one turned left in my path. That is a common occurrence because drivers either don’t pay attention or think they are fast enough to dart through, so I’m always looking out for it.

I entered the intersection and the opposite driver, who had a clear view of me, began to turn left at the same time without warning. I started breaking, but I wasn’t sure if I could stop in time, so I called out, “Don’t go! Don’t go!” I’m loud and his window was open, so he stopped and as I went by a split second later, he yelled out his window, “Then hurry up, Asshole!”

Can you believe that? Crazy times!

But I will continue to use my outside voice when necessary to ensure my safety. By the time I arrived at work, I was mostly zen about it, telling myself that he must be a miserable person, whereas I only had to deal with him for a few seconds.

I did stop at the store afterward to buy this amazing Icelandic chocolate bar before going to work. Chocolate is my friend.

And it helped that I had the witty banter of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me whispering in my right ear.

You may have noticed that I was a bit bundled up. With temps in the low 40’s, biking in a suit sans sweat is no problem, and now I have to add earmuffs, a scarf, wool tights and gloves. Not just any gloves – my fingers get very cold, so I had to break out these huge Thinsulate reindeer gloves. They’re so silly looking, they make me laugh.

Mean drivers, cold weather, whatever.

I will still be out there, enjoying my bike rides. :)

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Sometimes drivers completely baffle me. Case in point from this morning’s commute…

Asshole? Really!?!

I stopped behind three cars waiting for a red light. When the light turned green, we each went through in turn, me last. Meanwhile, a driver from the other direction was waiting to turn left. After I passed and as he turned, he called out, “Asshole,” through an open window.

Really!?! Huh? I looked around either for commiseration or to see if there was someone else he could have been talking to. I was alone out there. So I continued to repeat in my head, “Really!?!” in a Seth & Amy SNL voice the rest of the way to work.

Baffling. Not only did I do absolutely nothing wrong, but I am obviously a woman, in a skirt with long hair and a pink helmet. Since when do men go around calling women assholes? Really!?!


*Photo from last year, but setting and outfit very similar to today’s.

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More Ups and Downs – and Doubling Up

I’m going to continue with my “ups and downs” theme from Tuesday because it fits so perfectly.

On my way home from work last night, taking busy city streets, I rode by a group of people giving out free lights to cyclists. Up!

Dressed for 35 degree biking (thanks for the belt, Trisha!)

Not a half mile later, a driver passed me and then immediately swerved hard to the right to go around another car waiting to turn left. The maneuver put his speeding car dangerously close to my front wheel, causing me to scream and slam on my brakes. Soon the driver was stopped behind 10 other cars waiting for a red light. As I rode by, I looked in and saw a 30-something guy tapping away on his iPhone. This was too much for me to bear, so I tapped on his iWindow. He looked up with surprise and rolled it down. I said, “That was very scary back there.” He reacted with complete cluelessness and I calmly informed him that he very nearly hit me when he sped around the car just a few seconds ago. He apologized profusely and said that he never saw me.

Holy hell!! If that’s even true, it does not make me feel better. I kindly suggested that he pay attention to the road and then I turned onto a side street, anxious to get away from the rush hour madness and allow my hands and voice to stop shaking. These drivers are totally out of control. DOWN!

La Oma

But wait! Don’t give up on humanity yet: this is an overall positive post.

After that debacle, I met my friends and fellow oma-owners, Janet and Dan, for hard apple cider and sweet potato fries at a neighborhood pub. Up!

Afterward, this amazing husband-wife team demonstrated doubling up on a bike, with Janet sitting side saddle on the back rack and Dan pedaling. They made it look so easy and elegant! Then I got a chance to ride on the back rack – my first time doubling up. It was so much fun! Learning this skill is now high on my to-do list. Janet has graciously offered to be my trial passenger this weekend. Stay tuned for more detail as this progresses. There will be video. UP! :)

What have your ups and downs been lately?

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…and then news stories like this happen.

File this under “schlocky local news strikes again.”

I could not watch the entire video because I was shaking in rage from the opening line: “Bicyclists on the streets of Chicago face many dangers, but they may put themselves in that position and frequently frustrate others on the road.” (Next up on Channel 7 news – Domestic violence victims: why don’t they just leave the guy??)

This is how the mainstream media uses a few examples to twist reality and perpetuate false truths about bicyclists. I ride through Chicago every day and I see hundreds of bicyclists riding lawfully and courteously. Anyone could stand on the corner of downtown Chicago during rush hour and record footage of drivers and pedestrians breaking traffic laws, but no one’s broadcasting a story about how those who die in car crashes everyday are asking for it. This story is bullshit, total car-head on display.

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Accepting Fault

No one likes to be wrong. Some take this so far that they automatically refuse to accept fault, even if they make a mistake that endangers another. During my ride home on Tuesday, I experienced two opposite reactions from drivers in this situation.

1) As I took my turn riding through a four-way-stop intersection, a BMW perpendicular to me went through at the same time. The driver eventually saw me and slammed on his brakes. Immediately he threw up his hands, as if to say, “Not my fault! Not sorry! Screw you!” Then he drove off.

2) Fve minutes later, as I was riding in the bike lane, a sedan in front of me suddenly pulled to the right to nab a parking spot.  I had time to stop and yell, “Bike!” The driver slammed on the brakes, then completed the parking maneuver. As I passed, the driver opened the car door and called out, “I am SO sorry!” I gave her a wave and replied, “It’s okay,” even though it really wasn’t.  She sounded so distraught, I almost felt sorry for her.

This is my "give me a break" look (clean version)

Both situations were unsafe and whether a driver accepts fault does not change that fact.  But it sure does make me feel better about the world!  What has your experience been?

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A Typical Tuesday

My commute to and fro today was lovely, other than having to yell “JERK” at some jerk, who honked at me for being in the road and then cut me off to turn right.  I guess I should not be surprised, since some people (*cough* men *cough*) are often jerks in general.   The anonymity of driving naturally magnifies this tendency.  They should get their ridiculous testosterone under control and stop bringing me down.

Anyway, my ride really was (mostly) lovely.  There is finally some relief from the oppressive heat and I can feel autumn trying to break though.  Although I know it’s too soon to get excited, I can’t help it – I love autumn!

How’s everyone else doing?  I’ve been so busy lately, I feel a bit disconnected from my fellow bike commuters out there in internets land.

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Jerk Season

I am tired. Of aggressive and ignorant jerks. Guys in Land Rovers who pass dangerously close. And then roll down the window to lecture me on how I’m not supposed to be riding in the middle of the (small one-way) road. Because they are faster. Therefore I should move over. Never mind that riding up against parked cars is the most dangerous way to ride in the city. They need to pass me and that’s all that matters. Because they are so fast, even though somehow I catch up with them at the red lights.

They tell me to “share the road.” Which means stay the fuck out of their way. Because they have “their side” and I have “my side.” Which apparently is the gutter.

I wish. I wish I wish I wish that these guys (always guys) would leave me alone to get home in peace. And that I could stop my blood from boiling every time they bother me. Stop myself from reacting. Why do I let them get to me?

I am a woman peacefully riding a happy bike. In a dress. In the dark. In the rain. In my neighborhood. What is their problem?

Five months of daily winter riding – not one problem with a driver. Now in the summer all the jerks come out. Maybe Chicago is too aggressive for me. This type of scenario should not be normal.

{I was planning to use these pictures to talk about my lovely ride to see the Evelyn Evelyn / Amanda Palmer show. Too bad all of that changed one block from home.}

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Deep Breaths

Riding in Chicago rush hour traffic can really raise my blood pressure, especially when it seems that every person drives a huge SUV while fiddling with a blackberry and passing within inches of me. Even after two years of daily riding, this still gets to me a bit too much sometimes. Today during my evening commute, I had to pull over for some deep breaths and springtime appreciation.

A few minutes later I returned to the road feeling calm and refreshed. I can’t control how others drive and I can’t control the appalling lack of bicycle infrastructure, but I can control my own moods. Sometimes I literally have to stop to smell the flowers.

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I Believe in Peace, B_ _ _ _

I admit that I was all fired up to write this post when I got home, but after a hot shower, a cold beer and a phone call with my mom, I’m feeling pretty chill. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

You can't tell, but I'm flipping her off

My ride home today was scary. It was pouring rain, dark out and with all the city lights reflecting off the pavement, I was nervous about drivers seeing me and my lights. Then one particular driver had to go and be an a-hole. I was in the bike lane passing a line of stopped traffic when a car started moving into the bike lane. I yelled on the top of my lungs, “HEYYYYYYY!” to prevent being run over. The car slammed on its brakes (I’m loud) and I proceeded on.

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Stalked by a car

I recently asked about safety and security concerns while cycling through your neighborhood, and I mentioned that I feel very safe in my neighborhood.  That answer stands, but after more than a year of daily riding, I had my first tense, non-traffic-related cycling safety incident.

Night Riding (note this is a pic from last week, I was on Betty not Oma)

Night Riding (old photo with Oma not Betty Foy)

I was riding home alone with Betty Foy at 9 p.m. on a residential one-way street that I take all the time – not deserted, but not a major thoroughfare.  I didn’t hear any cars, but noticed through my rear view mirror the dark outline of a car behind me with its headlights off.  The car did not pass me, but stayed creeping behind (I was going about 14 mph, I’d guess).  Continue reading

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How To: Report Dangerous Drivers

In a thread on The Chainlink, a Chicago bicycling online community, I asked what one should do in the situation I was in last month. Recap: I was riding along on a quiet street, lalala, when a guy in an SUV honked continuously at me, pushed by me so closely that my fingers brushed his truck when I put my arm out for him to back off, forced me to pull off the road and then yelled, “stay off the fucking road.” I got his license plate number and description and called the police station when I got home, which told me to call 311, Chicago’s info line. I followed the prompt to file a police report, but after describing the incident calmly and using the term “assault,” the operator told me that the guy’s behavior was just “ignorance” and there was no police report to file for “ignorance.” I was fuming inside, because I know the law and the meaning of “assault” but decided not to pursue it further for my mental health.

Ethan from the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) answered with their advice on how to handle the situation.

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Hopping Mad

I’m using this picture of my cat Ted in an outfit Trisha bought him to balance the mood of this post. How can one stay mad when Bumble Bee Ted is right there? And I’m using the title “Hopping Mad” because it sounds old fashioned and much nicer than the string of expletives running through my head.

Bumble Bee Ted

Bumble Bee Ted

These people are really starting to get to me.

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