Crazy Woman Driver

I’ve been riding my motorcycle to work as much as I can lately – with gas over $4/gallon, every little bit helps.  I have a slightly amusing story about my commute this morning:

The interstate is under heavy construction, and I don’t like taking it when I’m on the bike anyway, so I take surface streets into work.  It’s not too bad, there’s a handful of lights and it’s multi-lane roads almost all the way.  I’m not a crazy-aggressive  rider, but maybe a little ‘spirited’.  I won’t split lanes (at speed at least) but I don’t wait for a ton of room between cars to move.  I tend to accelerate quickly away from stop signs and lights – not WOT or poppin wheelies or anything… I just like my space, and want to get away from other traffic when possible.  So this morning, coming up to one of the few lights, there’s a car in the right lane that changes to the left lane for no apparent reason, causing the van that was in the left lane to change to the right – presumably so no one was in front of him at the light.  Unless you’re planning on actually accelerating away from the light faster than normal, please don’t change lanes just to be first in line.  I stayed in the right lane with the van in front of me.
We leave the light, the car in the left lane was moving every-so-slightly quicker than the van, so I changed lanes.  As soon as I appeared behind her, she started waving her hands in the mirror and giving me a ‘get back’ arm/thumb waving something-or-other.  Here’s a tip people: a bike like mine can stop in about a tenth the distance it’ll take you to stop.  And I’m usually in one side of the lane or the other, so I’m not going to hit you, don’t wave me back.  Even if by some odd chance I did hit you, I’ll barely leave a scratch in your bumper.  Go about your day, drive like you normally do.  If possible, please let me around you – you’re making me way more nervous than I could possibly be making you.  I was close to her, I’ll admit that, but at this point I’m boxed in and am hoping she’ll catch the hint to speed up just a hair so I can get out from beside the van next to me.  As soon as there was room, I changed lanes and accelerated past her.  Again, my bike is 1/4 the length of your car – what looks close to you isn’t that close at all.  And as soon as I was in front of the van, within a second I was 100 feet in front of him.  They’re both still getting up to the speed limit, I’m already 10 over it.  (Yes, I was speeding… trust me, if you’re not doing 55-60 on this stretch of road people are flying past you)  There are places in the world where lane-splitting is perfectly legal because people understand the concept of motorcycles getting up to speed faster than other vehicles.
I look in my mirror and see crazy arm-waving lady’s car only has one headlight and it’s really bright.  Probably aimed incorrectly.  I also notice she seems to have pulled away from the van by a good amount.  I continue my ride, picking my way through the relatively light traffic and catching mostly green lights.  When I get into downtown, I notice she’s come into view again.  I’m in the left lane, she’s in the right.  She almost rear ends the pickup truck in front of her.  I glance over and I think she’s giving me the finger.  I say think, because it’s like she’s trying to be sneaky about it and hoping I don’t actually see it.  She probably insults people under her breath as they walk away too.  As long as you feel better lady.  Going around the corner, I end up behind her, and she brake checks me!  What kind of d-bag brake-checks a bike!?  Seriously lady, pull that crap with a stereotypical biker and you’re getting a window kicked in or your mirror taken off.  So I get over in the lane next to her to give her a “What’s your problem?!” look and she’s giving me the finger again!  She’s caught at a light, so I actually stop next to her and yell “What the fuck is your problem?!” (so much for the look, I’m pissed now)  She rolls down her window and turns into a raving loon, “You’re one of those guys that’s going to get himself creamed and make whoever hit him feel bad!  Zipping up behind people and cutting in front of them!”
I was dumbstruck.
The best I could up with at the time was “Lady, I’ve been riding for 15 years, I know what I’m doing”  She continued ranting about something … I shook my head and rode on.

The more I thought about it, the more it just all seemed absurd.  First of all, I was never in a bad or dangerous position.  When I was behind her, I had plenty of room to stop if she had to.  When I pulled in front of the van, I was in a less-than-optimal position for about a second until I got some space.  I had my outs, I saw all the potential threats in front of us, I knew where everyone was and where I was in relation.  If I startled the van driver, I apologize, but by the time he might have even moved his foot to the brake, I was 5 car-lengths in front of him.  Trust me, I don’t like cars/trucks/vans anywhere close to my rear tire.
So given that, which is worse?  The fact that I may have startled the van driver?  Or the fact that this lady did at least 75 (in a 45-40-35) and cut off who knows how many people to catch up to me.  And when she did, she almost caused two accidents right there.  And her comments… if I ever hit someone that was doing something stupid, I wouldn’t feel bad at all.  “You’re going to be one of those guys…”  Really?  After 15 years, I have never been “… one of those guys…” — never even close, usually the exact opposite.  You’ll probably never see me riding without a helmet and jacket, popping wheels, stoppies, or doing 130mph down the interstate.
So lady in the gold Saturn-looking car with the one misaligned headlight – you’re going to be ‘one of those ladies’ with your arm waving and ranting, you’re going to hit someone because you’re too busy telling someone else how to drive.  Worry about yourself.  And if you’re going to throw someone the finger, throw it.  Don’t try to insult them under your breath to make yourself feel better.  And find some help – you have anger issues.  I’m an angry driver sometimes, and I yell at people… I have never in my life chased them down to do so.

And fix your headlight – that’s a hazard.