Friday, September 30, 2011

Stick to Your Own Lane

If you've never ridden a bike over the Brooklyn Bridge at 5:00 PM on a summer afternoon here is what you can expect:

  1. You will be sharing the bridge with hundreds and possibly thousands of pedestrians, at least ½ of which are tourists.

  2. You will be sharing the bridge with tens and possibly hundreds of bicycles going in both directions and sharing a narrow bike lane on the north side of the walkway.

  3. You will need a bell and possibly a set of healthy lungs for the inevitable shout out.

  4. You will need patience, a keen set of eyes and some intuition to recognize which peds and fellow cyclists pose a risk to you and others.

  5. You will most likely NOT look up much to enjoy the classic structure and phenomenal view.  I try and slow down and do this more often.

Yesterday on my morning commute over the bridge I was surprised to find a smattering of workers in yellow vests making an effort to keep people on their respective sides of the bridge, a noble but thankless effort. You will still find the occasional outright idiot as the following story illustrates.

On my way home after the downpour yesterday I was enjoying a relatively uneventful ride over a relatively empty bridge.  I was rounding the east tower cautiously so as not to hit some picture taker taking a leisurely stroll across the bike lane. Then I saw not one but two jerks on bikes in a row going too damn fast and heading strait for me. The first one avoided me but did get to hear my heartfelt, “You're going too fast!!” as he passed me. I told you that a heathy set of lungs comes in handy. The second jerk on the other hand was really heading strait for me, wearing headphones and traveling a pretty good clip. As he approached me I yelled the “too damn fast” mantra and braced for impact. He slammed on his breaks and fishtailed putting his rear wheel right in my path. Bam. It's a good thing I wasn't going fast because the whole thing could have been much worse.
This guy was of a stereotype I can't stand; big, beefy, muscular, handsome and full of himself. I would have hated him immediately on general principal but when the asshole shows his stripes... let's just say I ripped him a new one while he tried to apologize. As he blubbered, “I'm sorry” over and over again, I let loose with a line I use on Gusty when he pees on the seat and leaves it there, “Don't apologize, just don't do it you shmuck!!” I leave out the “shmuck” park when speaking to my son. I must admit I enjoyed having the opportunity to tell some jerk exactly what I thought of him without recrimination and he gave me an opportunity to use the word “shmuck”. For this I thank him.

I hope the tourists enjoyed the show.

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