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A Nice Day….Say What? You talkin’ to ME?

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

After so many days of rain, and my bike in the shop all week, I’ve since been making some short excursions around town, enjoying the weather and the scenery. But leave it to some irate bike-hating persons to throw a (figurative) wrench in my wheels…

Yesterday I got out to the beach after work and ended up riding for miles along the boardwalk, which was great. I even stopped for an ice cream sundae, which I ate while sitting on the sea wall enjoying the view.  The day before, I’d been riding all over the East side of JP, in between a few thunderstorms. Fortunately, I had packed my rain pants and jacket, which I hastily put on under a tree by the pond during the first downpour.   I could see the the second downpour coming, and it arrived just as I took cover at Forest Hills.  I put the bike in the cage and went on the T to work. By the time I came home, the rain had passed.

Today was no different. I rode a lot, starting with the J.P. Bikes Spring Roll…but it was hot, so I afterward, I continued on my way out to the beach, by T. Coming from Forest Hills, this entails switching trains at State, so usually I go along the platform to the far end, to get on the first car of the train. It was pretty crowded, but at least I got on. Sometimes I have to wait for the next train.

When some people got off, I managed to sit, my bike tucked in and blocking a few seats. but there were other empty seats open. When standing with a heavy bike on a moving train, the bike has on occasion, fallen on top of people. So I try to sit to have better control of it, as it rests on it’s kickstand and I clasp the brake lever.

Again, some people got off, and I switched over one seat so my legs were not cramped by the bike. There remained an empty seat next to me. Some guy in his 20’s glared at me and whined to his grandmother that “bikes take up a lot of room, I wanted to sit there!” indicating the empty seat beside me, which for some reason was now deemed uninhabitable due to my close proximity.  I told him he could still sit there, that he didn’t have to be resentful towards bikes, I told him we are only allowed in the ends of each car, and that the bike and I can fall and hurt people if I try to stand. Besides bikes have a right to be on the T. (I wonder, does he make the same complaint about fat people?).

Well, he got off at the stop I had planned to exit, so I decided to stay on the train, continuing on a few stops to the beach. Better to sun first and ride later when the breeze cooled things down.

When I arrived at the beach, I rode along the boardwalk again, but the air was chilly due to a strong southeast wind. I decided to ride to the South end of the beach, and soon found a place to relax in the sun for a few hours and dip in the ocean.

The wind picked up as expected, so I rode out from Revere Beach to Winthrop, and ate at Belle Island Seafood, my favorite hole-in-the wall with quality, fresh, reasonably-priced seafood. Nothing like a fried oyster roll and a cold drink on a hot day! Then I rode around Winthrop a bit through the Cottage Park neighborhoods before turning back.

Once back in JP, I made a brief stop at one of my favorite watering holes, but was soon on my way, eager to get home. I decided to take a detour through the Bourne district of JP as taking the side streets was usually more quiet and pleasant than being on Hyde Park Ave., even though I ride on the sidewalk there.

I started up Walk Hill at a slow pace due to the incline. There were lots of parked cars, but the street still had ample room for cars and bikes. About 2 blocks up, I heard a car beeping, but it was back a ways.  Then I heard a second car beeping.  Then the first car beeped at the second car again.   Soon I was aware of someone approaching from the rear who seemed afraid to pass, though there was plenty of room. Once past some parked cars, I slid over a bit to the right, so the car was able to pass me without fear.  Then the second car driver stomped on the gas, and the guy driving yelled at me loudly, ” GET OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!”

Yep, he said it.   I yelled back something I won’t repeat, but of course he was gone in a flash, and I didn’t quite catch his license plate number.  I was furious!   I do not take kindly to feeling threatened.  So much for my leisurely ride home!  I then detoured and tried to catch up with him at the bottom of the long straightaway where it met American Legion Highway, but he was gone.  I guess I wanted to tell him that bikes have a legal right to the road.  But who wants to be dead right?  I had to wonder WTF was so important going on in Mattapan that he had to be so rude (and obviously ignorant of the law). It was then that I realized HE was the one beeping from far back, and the other driver ahead of him beeped back at him to get him to back off. I was so mad!

Once home, I noticed a house mate coming home on his bike, so I told him about this encounter, referring to the driver as ignorant. His response was “Yah, well, welcome to Boston!”.

Really? Do we Cyclists in Boston have to put up with such ignorant, dangerous attitudes towards us, just so idiots in cars can speed up to the next red light?  Really? Because that kind of attitude could become contagious. Rather than be dragged down to the lowest common denominator, how about if instead, we offer some official “driving near cyclists” mandatory education for the public. The prevailing attitude out there is downright frightening.  The recent death of a female cyclist may have been an accident, as the driver who sideswiped her didn’t see her. But that doesn’t make it OK.  After all, isn’t it everybody’s –>responsibility<– to SEE and NOTICE cyclists, and pass SAFELY?

Meanwhile, what I want to say to that driver is, “Now, don’t make me say something I won’t regret!”.