Motor vehicles, potholes, road debris, the weather; Must we also add bone-headed cyclists to the list of dangers encountered by the everyday rider? Wrong-Way Corrigan’s seem to be in vogue these days, and it has spread from runners to cyclists. And, this is not a healthy trend, folks.
I was on one of my regular training rides, out enjoying the sun and the sky, this time circling Bonelli Park. Yes, that same Bonelli Park recently used by SoCal Cycling’s San Dimas Road Race. It is a nice seven-mile-and-change loop, with a bit of everything to challenge a rider. Included is a run on Puddingstone Drive, just north of Brackett Airport. It is a four-lane, divided road, with a posted speed-limit of 40 MPH, which automatically translates to drivers as 50 MPH, plus. On this stretch, as long as a rider keeps to the right, it is generally not a problem for all to share the road.
Enter the Bonehead.
I was over to the right in the number two lane, fully decked out in a bright, red kit, white strobe to the front (plus a red one at the rear), when I spotted him and his florescent-yellow wind breaker. He was also in the number two lane, only he was running the opposite direction of traffic, coming head-on with me. Even though I was visually as conspicuous as an atom bomb at sunrise, he finally spotted me, and the vehicular traffic (also in the number two lane) closing in on him. I sat up, applied the brakes (not knowing his intentions), and he began to visibly panic, weaving both left and right, realizing he had put himself (plus the driver and I) in a very bad position. The vehicle moved into the number one lane, being he had entirely taken up the number two, on course for a head-on collision, and I come to a near stop against the curb.
Catastrophe was averted by the actions of both the driver and I, while Mr. Bonehead pedaled on as if nothing had happened. As he was passing to my immediate left, he waved “Hello” to me and smiled, as I was shaking my head in obvious disgust. Seeing I was less than enthused, he then uttered the immortal words of a clinical narcissist: “Quit Whining!”
Quit whining? First, I was not whining at all. Second, he was being a complete, and dangerous tool, and tried to kiss the encounter off with a “No-Biggie” wave at me. He endangered the lives of three people (including himself), and to him, it was apparently a non-issue. Talk about nerve. He put the driver and I in a position of extreme uncertainty, as both of us knew not what this jerk was going to do. I could have just kept going, thus risking a head-on collision with him, or I could have swerved to my left, thus putting me in a position to be hit from behind, as the vehicles are not expecting a bike to jump into their path. Or, I could have come to a stop, which was what I just about did. And, this was not the first time I have encountered a wrong-way cyclist.
So, I did some detective work (in addition to this article, Cycling Dynamics, 12-15-2012). I have since spoken to both cyclists and runners alike, and I read a whole lot about this very dangerous behavior of “Seeing what is coming at me” on-line. What I found was an alarming, and very dangerous, trend which is being justified in the name of, get this, “Safety.” BUNK, I say! What these people do not realize is in vain attempts at security they are actually putting themselves, and others, in severe danger. Going against traffic of any kind, for any reason, is something people sharing the road are not expecting, and when closure speeds are factored in, this is an extremely fatal practice looking for a place to happen. It needs to stop.
What people of all recreational activities need to understand is that bicycles are required to follow the same rules motor vehicles do. Additionally, runners, being considered pedestrians, need to follow all of the laws of good pedestrians. And, that includes staying out of the street unless it is for the specific, expressed purpose of said streets being legally crossed. I have seen too much of this activity disrupt two and four-wheeled traffic.
Look, vehicular traffic is difficult enough to deal with as it is, without riders and pedestrians adding to the mix. Cyclists, please do not add to this dangerous, disruptive practice.