Go ahead. Think about it for a little while. Mull it over. Weigh the probabilities and endless permutations.
Ok, I'll tell, I'll tell-- it's the shorter one!
I know! Mind-blowing, right?
You'd think that the 26 miles each and every day would expose one to far less danger, but my old commute followed the Bayshore Bikeway, which has good shoulders, designated lanes, and separated paths almost the entire way around the bay.
Meanwhile, my current commute takes me on a narrow, two-laned road with no shoulder or bike-lane that turns into a four lane road with even narrower lanes and, again, no shoulder or lane. Generally, though, it seems pretty safe. It starts in my residential neighborhood, has a 25 mph speed-limit throughout, and plenty of traffic lights. By and large, the Sailors and government employees who traverse it in the morning are attentive and courteous. However, there are always a few knuckleheads in every group who ruin it for everybody -- particularly us bikeists.
The narrow lanes make it impossible for a car and bike to travel next to each other within the lane while maintaining three feet of separation (or one foot, really). So, attentive drivers with a little common sense wait for a gap in on-coming traffic to pass me on the two-lane portion and carefully change to the left lane in the four-lane portion. No big deal.
But, then there are the knuckleheads -- the ones who are always driving like they have a delivering mother in the back seat who try to pinch me by passing within the narrow lane despite on-coming traffic or a second car occupying the passing lane. Hate those guys!
The obvious solution to this problem is for me to "take the lane" as the law allows in areas where cars and bikes can't travel abreast with three feet of separation. The problem, though, is that doing so makes knuckleheads extremely angry. Like their medieval and cro-magnon forebearers, they get angry at that which they simply can't understand due to their profound ignorance.
This phenomenon played it out twice in as many days for your beloved Bikeist this week -- two different intersections, two different knuckleheads, same, exact, ignorance. It went exactly like this (except I may have missed a few "duhs"):
(1) Bikeist innocently pulls up to a red light, stopping in the middle of the lane (especially important at intersections to allow driveists to go right on red, and, more importantly, to ensure that right-turning traffic doesn't "t-bone" you as you proceed straight through the intersection when the light turns green.
(2) Light turns green. As Bikeist promptly begins his first pedal-stroke, knucklehead in red Mitsubishi (of course) lays on horn.
(3) Bikeist simply stops in his tracks. Turns around and throws hands in air, making a "what could possibly be the problem" gesture.
(4) Knucklehead guns it, passing Bikeist in opposing lane, yelling "Uh, duh, get to the right!" As he blows by.
(5) Bikeist catches him at stop sign as he's waiting in line to make a left turn -- asks knucklehead if he'd like to discuss the rules of the road.
(6) Knucklehead: "Duh, the law says you have to keep right all the time, duh!"
(7) Bikeist: "That's not true."
(8) Knucklehead: "Duh, it is -- want me to call Security right now, duh?!"
(9) Bikeist: "No need to go and do that, I'm a lawyer and well familiar with the law -- there are places where a rider has to move to the middle of the road."
(10) Knucklehead: (even more flustered) "Umm, duh, umm -- NO! You ALWAYS have to stay all the way to the right, duh! I'm calling Security."
(11) Bikeist: pedals off, shaking his head wondering if there is any hope, at all, for humanity.
(12) Fast-forward one day, substitute "Get right asshole" for the horn -- pretty much the same dialogue and outcome with knucklehead #2.
These incidents are fine examples of how useless the "three foot law" (or any bike law for that matter ) is without education of the people in the multi-ton vehicles. Where was my magical, protected, three foot bubble of safety? Wish I had printed copies of this graphic to hand to those knuckleheads:
Maybe I can have it printed onto the back of a t-shirt! No means no driveists! Staying to the right as I enter an intersection puts me in the path (and blind spot) of right-turning cars. The "safe" area is in the center of the lane, where I'm easily seen and can move through the intersection with the flow of traffic.
Do I, typically, move to the right when I get through the intersection to let cars pass. Yes. But, neither of the knuckleheads I encountered this week gave me a chance to do so before freaking out.
(1) Let's try to be civil out there people -- no need to scare the crap out of a poor innocent Bikeist by laying on your horn when we're all starting from a dead stop. Relax and don't let your ignorance and/or in-breeding get the best of you.
(2) "Duh is as duh does." Watch your six out there bikeists -- despite laws passed to supposedly protect us, some driveists are simply uneducable -- always anticipate the knucklehead --