A small snowfall that melted and then froze into a nice slippery layer, followed a few days later by freezing rain, made our streets rather bike unfriendly for a full week. St. Louis makes no attempt to plow or salt anything other than the biggest roads, leaving many of the ideal cycling routes treacherous for bikers, pedestrians, and drivers alike.
Fortunately, things warmed up a bit toward the end of last week and into the weekend, and we were ready to roll (albeit with caution for those icy patches that remain where the sun don’t shine) on Saturday and Sunday. I ran a few errands by bike on Saturday, followed with biking to church on Sunday.
Both rides were lovely, with the only treacherous spot being the icy patches in our alley. On Sunday, I encountered the obligatory jerk driver on The Hill. He was quite outraged that I delayed his trip by 30-60 seconds for a 1 1/2 block stretch where there was not enough room for him to pass me safely.
His tirade included the oh-so-helpful information that I was operating my bike illegally — that the law* said I could ride no more than two feet from parked cars — and HE KNEW because he raced bikes for 30 years.
Well, Mr. Jerk picked the wrong lady to quote “cycling law” to, but I really wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise. Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying my handy-dandy, ready-to-hand-out copy of Missouri Bicycle Statutes. (I have copies, and I’ll be ready next time.)
Realizing that Mr. Jerk was not in a state to make this encounter remotely positive, I eventually biked away, with two thoughts in my head:
- “If he thought that riding within two feet of parked cars (i.e., squarely within the deadly “door zone”) was a safe cycling practice, it’s a bit of a wonder that he survived 30 years of cycling.” His comment was not surprising, as I see plenty of the spandex-clad crowd riding in this unsafe position on a regular basis.
- “Small penis.” Sometimes this is the only logical conclusion when one encounters an unreasonable male motorist who thinks he owns the road. This thought, combined with some deep breathing, did much to help restore the equilibrium of my nice Sunday morning ride.
* I have no idea where he pulled this from (okay, maybe I could take a guess 😉 ), but this is NOT a law in Missouri, nor is it a law anywhere else as far as I know. If you think about how far a car door would swing out if suddenly opened, two feet is clearly not enough space. I try to ride 4-5 feet from parked cars — you want to be out of the path of the door if it were to suddenly swing wide open AND confident enough in that distance and your position that you won’t swerve out into traffic should a door in fact open.