Hell Is Other Bikers

I’ve been cycling in to the day job pretty consistently lately and usually it’s a good way to begin the day: a bit of exercise and a bit of fresh air at least.

Other road users are where things go wrong. Sometimes it’s cars of course, but I’ve had more trouble with antisocial bike riders over the last week than I usually do.

Part of the reason for this is just the weather: it’s definitely summer in Portland now, and that means there are far more riders out than in the shoulder seasons (and in fairness I don’t ride much during the winter) so when I’m riding along there is just less space in the bike lanes, and the bike lanes are where the storm drains and the uneven road surfaces are situated. Most riders are courteous (I certainly try to be) and if they make errors it is because of lack of awareness rather than ill intent.

Still, sometimes you come across another rider who behaves badly. Wednesday was one of those times.

It started when I was stopped at a red light and this other rider simply blew through – passing me on the left in the bike lane. Was it a dangerous manoeuvre? Not especially – the junction was completely stationary at the time since the pedestrian crossing was active, but that’s not what bothered me: this is exactly the kind of behaviour that makes drivers dislike bikers, tarring everyone with that brush.

I managed to almost catch up with this rider on the next upslope, but on the following downhill I was one car back from him, and he was going slowly enough that the car between us had to brake, and so did I (this is a 40mph hill, so only just breaking 30mph is disappointing).

And there were other transgressions – shifting lanes without looking, especially – from someone who was clearly an experienced cyclists but who apparently doesn’t care about anyone else on the road.

Anyway, I ended up playing leapfrog all the way into downtown which meant I had a fast ride in – the first time this year I averaged 20mph for the trip – but I was miserable: I had become a prisoner of my own fury.

Hell may be other people, but only if we let them get to us.

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