erik lundegaard

Adventures in Cycling: Yo Yos Apologizing

I nearly got killed on the way to work yesterday.

I shouldn't write that. Too many people already think it's too dangerous to bike in the city when it's not, really. Put it this way: If I drove, I might be dead already. At the least, I'd be fatter with higher blood pressure. Maybe I'd be dead from higher blood pressure.

So yesterday I was biking north on First Avenue in downtown Seattle, my usual route, and was about five blocks from crossing Denny. There are two north-bound lanes, and I was in the right lane, as usual, where four cars were moving slowly. They were moving so slowly that I caught up to them, and, since the left lane was clear, I decided to go around them. The second car in line had the same thought I did, about five seconds after I did, and just as I was pulling even with him. Thus, as he pulled out into the left lane, he began to push me into oncoming traffic.

YO! YO! YO!

That's my default yell. It worked here. He finally noticed. And he rolled down the window with a smile on his face and said kindly, “Didn't see you. Sorry.” Then he made the light, which was yellow, while I was stuck behind with the rest of the traffic, and with all of the mixed feelings such encounters tend to bring out.

For some reason, his mea culpa bugged me. “Didn't see you.” Of course he didn't see me. I didn't think he was pushing me into oncoming traffic on purpose.

But at least he was nice about it. At least he said “Sorry.” At least he smiled.

Then I realized this is what bugged me most of all.

A year or two ago, I had another YO! YO! YO! encounter, this time on Second Avenue, which has its own bike lane, heading south after work. A woman driving north apparently saw a parking space she wanted on the east or southbound side of the street and pulled a 180 to grab it. She nearly ran me over in the process. YO! YO! YO! Her windows were rolled up, and she kept them rolled up, but she did apologize. I could see her mouthing these words, angrily, with a scowl on her face: “I'm SORRY!” It was as if she were apologizing for the tenth time rather than the first. My immediate thought back then: You don't seem sorry.

The guy yesterday was the same, if opposite. He was just a little too happy in his apology. He seemed like someone who had realized long ago that you can disarm people with kindness, and that's what he was doing here, disarming me with his kindness, but he, too, didn't seem that sorry about nearly running me over. He seemed pretty happy about it. And then he made the light, while I was left behind with all of the mixed feelings such encounters tend to bring out.


Posted at 08:39 AM on Sat. Jul 14, 2012 in category Biking  
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