What a busy May Day.
I started off the day dealing with entitlement on a bike. I don’t know what alerted me to the aggro guy on his bike but he was on my block coming out of an apartment. I don’t think I had seen him before, but he had a bike helmet and sunglasses so it was a little hard to tell. I felt him semi-staring at me as I walked down the block but, like I said, he was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t tell 100% if he was looking at me. He was giving off that go-ahead-and-ask-me-what-I’m-staring–at vibe so, while I didn’t change my path, I didn’t try to make eye contact either. When I got within about 10 ft. away he swung his bike around and took off.
"Whatever," I thought.
Before I go on I want to mention a few things. I am sympathetic to bicyclists. I don’t think that safety on the roads is 50:50 bike /car. I think it’s more like 90% car because drivers are the ones driving the huge hunks of metal. Though I own a car, I walk (or take public transit) most of the time in the city so I know how scary reckless city drivers can be. Though many times bicycle politics can be ableist and self-congratulatory, I think overall they are for the good. Generally I feel solidarity with bicyclists. Hey my brother even has a bike blog
Having said all that, here’s what happened. At the end of my block there’s a stop sign. A car was in front of the biker with his right blinker on. Driver stops at stop sign. Bicyclist doesn’t stop, passing him on the right. Driver starts forward turning right, sees bicyclist, jams on brakes and hits his horn (not just a toot, but he didn’t lay on it either). Bicyclist freaks out, jumps off his bike and starts yelling at the driver. I can’t hear the driver but the biker has his hands on top of the open window, leaning in, yelling things like, “How dare you honk at me!” “You almost hit me!” and “You’re lucky I’m nice, another bicyclist would have fucked up your car for honking.”
He’s getting louder and louder as I approach. They driver is being appeasing. Palms-up and everything, he’s trying to explain why he honked but the bicyclist keeps yelling at him, cutting him off. I can’t really follow his rant, something about people in cars are just button-pushers, insulated from the world. He shows no sign of slowing down. I think he may be gearing up to slug the driver.
I stand about ten feet away and say, “You have to calm down.” It is, after all, my block and I’m not going to ignore this and walk by. I say it softly and keep my hands at my sides. He ignores me, continuing his rant. But he knows I’m there. I say it again, the same way. He still doesn’t react or look at me but he finishes with a “Be more careful!” gets on his bike and rides away.
The driver pulls over, a little shaken and exploding with all the things he couldn’t say since he was defusing the situation: “I was signaling!” “He drove through a Stop on my right!” “I always yield to bikes!” I told him that the biker was an asshole and went to catch the N Judah.
Downtown, I stupidly thought the march was starting at the 1934 General Strike Memorial
so I had to spend awhile finding the march
(“Aha! I said to myself, ”traffic isn’t coming on this side of the street so the march must have started on the other side of Market St!”) I caught the last block and am glad I did because I got to see the ILWU Drill Team do synchronized steps and hook moves. As always, some wingnuts were there but at union rallies they are not allowed to speak. The biggest group in the worker co-op contingent were the Lusty Lady
folks who kept a continual retort of “Yes, we’re in a union” to the questioning of other demonstrators.
I didn’t stay too long because I had to go drink beer in the sun and play badminton with members of my co-op at our yearly party in Stern Grove
. God, my co-workers children sure have grown since last year.
I missed the Immigrant Rights rally because I ended up driving a co-worker home who nailed a pothole on the way down into the Stern Grove valley and wasn’t doing so well. In fact, she’s the “President”* and our Treasurer went down in the softball game. Of our corporate officers, only our Secretary was still standing at the end of the day.
Good thing we’re a co-op.
How was your International Workers Day/Immigrant Rights Day/May Day?
*As a California Corporation we are required to have a “President”. It is a position with no power whatsoever.