Tuesday, September 20

Red Rage

This isn’t the post I was planning to write today. I was planning to write a post, entitled “taking the second left.” I even took some photos to help illustrate the traffic situation. It is one not taught in Cycling Savvy, though I think any of their instructors would recognize it. Instead, I got mad. UNREASONABLY MAD. I yelled at someone. Someone who might be a nice person most of the time. I knew it wasn’t a teachable moment, but I yelled anyway. And then I got really mad. The RED RAGE is not pretty.

Sometimes it takes only a minor incident to trigger it. It is a close relative to what we call ROAD RAGE; an affliction we tend to associate with motorists doing offensive acts that endanger others. Well, I can tell you that cyclists are not immune. What's more, since we are not insulated from the world by steel and glass, it's a lot more upfront and personal when it happens to one of us. Today, it was me. And it really wasn't anything major that set it off. I think a lot of road rage starts with something minor.

Bellaire Elementary School While Road Construction was Ongoing
Northern Approach to Bellaire Elementary Four-Way Stop
Not long ago, I reported how traffic engineers messed up the street of Bellaire in Hurst, where it goes past Bellaire Elementary School. Well, this morning, I left for work a little later than usual, and at the four-way stop just north of the school, settled in to a stop for the crossing guards who had their signs out so kids could cross. So far, the situation was pretty normal. You stop and WAIT, just like the rest of traffic, when the crosswalks are occupied and kids are crossing. The concept is pretty simple, and it is a penalty that comes with leaving a skosh late for work. This morning, I had plenty of stop time to take a photo of the crossing guards. They are nice ladies that take good care of their kids and there were quite a few this morning. While we never actually talk, they have come to know the guy on the red and white bike that rides down the middle of the lane.

Crossing Guard at Bellaire Elementary School on September 20
The Same Car is Stopped in Both These Photos. HE Didn't Blow Through the Intersection
The OTHER Crossing Guard at Bellaire Elementary School on September 20
You Can See Lots of Kids Beyond on the Sidewalk
On my right, an adult on a bike pulled up to the stop sign. I have no idea where he came from because I don’t recall passing him earlier, but I'd been stopped for a while since I had time to take some pictures. Bike guy actually stopped. Well, he almost stopped. Then he started forward and, I, still waiting patiently for the intersection to clear, forgot about non-teachablemoments. I yelled “You’re at a stop sign and there are kids crossing.” For those that do not know me, my voice projects VERY WELL. Some say that Steve can actually be quite LOUD. Bike guy yelled something back, somewhat tentatively. I think perhaps he was disoriented by a cyclist yelling at him. Who knows. I couldn't tell exactly what he yelled. In truth, there was nothing he could have yelled that carried any meaning unless he was going to simply obey the law and WAIT. Instead, he continued forward. I yelled again; even louder: “THE CROSSING GUARD HAS HER SIGN UP! THAT MEANS STOP!” The guy continued past the crossing guard (and the kids) and then down Bellaire past the school, riding in the gutter pan of the street. I did feel a bit better when the crossing guard waved to me and yelled out “thanks!” Her feedback helped, dropping the anger down enough that I did not feel any temptation to yell further at the scofflaw when I was able to proceed legally, and I blew by him within a half block. In contrary to my usual practice, I did not make a full lane change when I passed him. In reality, the guy was no worse than many people I see every day on bikes. Arguably, he was better than the lady that simply flew through a four-way stop yesterday afternoon without looking either way, with a trailer in tow behind her. Still, he was the one that set off the RED RAGE.

I do feel better because no embarrassing profanities (John Romeo Alpha would call such an "inappropriate term") escaped my lips in front of all those elementary school kids. Practicing and training for friendly cycling really DOES pay off. It is possible that some, reading this blog, don’t get irritated when they see people on bikes simply blow through signs or lights. While a person on a bike does not present the same magnitude of danger to other road users that the operator of a 6000 lb SUV represents, bike can and DO hurt people. Read THIS or THIS. Closer to North Texas, you can read THIS or THIS. I’d not go as far as Mr Christopher and cite such as the reason I’d never carry a gun while cycling, but I certainly understand where he’s coming from.

Just as not everyone driving a car is one of MY MOTORISTS, a lot of people on bikes should stay away from roads, paths, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Thanks for listening. I feel better now. We can go back to something OTHER than the RED RAGE. Heck, if you're riding in Hurst, you can probably blow through a stop sign right in front of me and I won't say a thing other than to offer first aid help when you cream some little kid.


John Romeo Alpha said...

It's also hard for me to resist the strong impulse to yell a loud (inappropriate term) at such scofflaws on two wheels. Perhaps I shall try out, "YOU SHAMELESS SCOFFLAW! YOU CAUSE ME TO WANT TO YELL INAPPROPRIATE TERMS!" At least you would make any nearby teacher or librarian smile. Which is something.

Chandra said...

I commend you on your self-control! I need to learn this from guys like you. I am still, in spite of my age, a bit hot-tempered, when it comes to dealing with inequities of life.

Peace :)

veesee said...

Your post about stop signs is so much nicer than mine. It might be RED RAGE to you, but the way you handle these situations is awesome. That guy deserved to be yelled at, he's breaking the law in a school zone and I hope he's busted soon and ticketed with that kind of heavy fine. You handled that really well.

I, on the other hand, bleat loud honking noises at driver who piss me off. Because I can. And I'm not that smart.

RANTWICK said...

I agree with the others. Your RAGE is pretty reasonable. Veesee, I am also a vocal honker. Noises rather than words.

Anonymous said...

I love to yell when its appropriate,and figure it may help me from developing cancer as I'm not holding in any negative emotions. So, there is a health benefit to it. I think.

Barbara said...

I've been known to yell at those on two wheels who insist upon blowing through red lights and/or performing other acts that make all of us look bad.
Thank you for riding right!

Steve A said...

Update: Maybe a coincidence, but I notice the crossing guard ladies give me a very nice wave when I come up to their stop now. They were always pleasant, but maybe a bit of yelling can turn out well after all.

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