My travels on Friday included a number of interesting encounters that I wouldn’t have had while stuck in a car, including the WashU research scientist I met while waiting for MetroLink, who bemoaned the fact that my bike’s rear cargo rack was full of my stuff and thus couldn’t accommodate him as a passenger (we continued to have a nice chat until I reached my stop).
Then, while biking the small stretch of Kingshighway that we regularly use to connect lower traffic streets on our route, a driver (in her hurry to pass me so she could spend more time sitting at the red light 25 feet away), passed too close [for my safety and comfort], despite my best lane position and communication efforts to dissuade just such a pass.
Seeing that her window was partially rolled down, I pulled up next to her (at that red light), and, ignoring the fact that she was talking on her cell phone while driving (AHEM), inquired where she was going in such a hurry that she needed to risk my safety by passing so closely to get to the red light sooner. She seemed quite taken aback, and muttered that she didn’t know she had passed too closely. I politely and calmly informed her that the distance (maybe a foot?) that she left between her car and my bike (and my body), did, in fact, feel quite unsafe from my perspective on the bicycle.
At that point, the light turned, but she did manage a rather sincere sounding, “I’m sorry,” before we both departed. While trying to confront/correct motorists is quite often a losing proposition, and thus something I generally try to avoid, my polite approach, and her apparent open-mindedness to the information, made this a pleasant encounter.
On the home stretch of my ride, I came up behind two middle-aged men out riding together recreationally. Their riding — weaving in and out of parked cars, riding in the door zone, running stop signs — really tempted me to say something. However, I wasn’t sure how they, surely “seasoned, experienced cyclists,” would take something from a random lady on a bike.
Instead of risking an unpleasant verbal exchange, I decided to let my biking do the talking. I caught up to them at a red light (was having trouble catching them previously due to their disregard for stop signs), and, once in front, had no trouble staying in front of them for the eight or so blocks that we shared the road, despite my [balanced] stops at the stop signs on our route. Whether or not they were paying attention, I enjoyed thinking that I may have planted a seed about a “revolutionary new way” to experience the roads.