6.10.2013

a frustrating moment... like many moments in my current day to day... I may be reactive and sometimes over reactive

ah... Monday
rainy Monday... before I get into the swing of things a quick reflection upon an incident that occurred yesterday

so... to my pleasure
when we said we were getting ready to meet "the cousins" at grandpa's pool my older son Dean said he wanted to ride his bike
we had ridden an impromptu ride in Rock Creek Park the day prior
it pleased me that Dean is suggesting riding or requesting riding
for years it has all be dictated by me

so...
Lisa got into the car with Grant while I pulled the bikes from the garage while Dean suited up
the ride is not long... I proposed making it longer or more hilly, but I understood that it was not important for us to cut into "pool time"
Dean wanted to ride his bike, but Dean also wanted to get to grandpa's so that he could play with his cousins

out the back gate... into the alley... onto the streets
down Park Road into Rock Creek Park
as we coasted down the hill I coached Dean to ride outside the "door zone"
to watch for car doors and have his tires on the outside white line of Bike Lane

it is dangerous... potentially dangerous

I blocked for Dean... riding behind him and a little more into the streets
this way passing cars had to pass wide of the young boy

in my experience on the bike I have learned that people pass obnoxiously fast and obnoxiously close
not anticipating that the cyclist may have to move one way or the other to dodge something on the road
be that a fallen tree branch... a poorly placed storm drain... the ever common DC pothole... or the suicidal squirrel 

kids can do some unpredictable stuff... they need to be given more space
the average car driver does not modify their driving behavior when passing children
 
a few cars pass us unnecessarily going down the hill
nothing is too obnoxious
no one is trying to make a statement by "buzzing the tower"

at the base of the hill all the cars that passed up going down the hill are queued up at a red light
there is enough room to pass on the right
we squeeze our way to the bottom of the hill and stop at the red light
a left turning car from our left blocks things such that we can safely take a Right Turn on Red

on the road in Rock Creek Park the cars behave as if they are on the highway
ignoring the fact that the speed limit on this road is 25MPH
not realizing that the "parkway" is for "park" activity
recreation and sport... not just an efficient cross town shortcut

we pedal the half mile or so on the road and then turn onto the section of Beach Drive that is closed on weekends and holidays
just to the left is the hill that Dean's friend William crashed on the day prior
at the top of that hill is the grassy area where we played croquet earlier that day

Dean and I ride at a decent pace... talking as we ride
riding more for pleasure and transportation than a training ride for sport
our pace is not so intense that we can not carry on a conversation
yet... it is exercise just the same

Dean is pretty good on the bike
I instruct him to play with his gears when I hear his chain rubbing
he needs to better understand the whole interconnection of things on the bike
that will come over time

our ride in Rock Creek Park occurs without consequence
we leave the closed section of road and ride with the cars
our bikes are side by side to the right of the road
again... my body position is blocking for my soon to be 12 year old son

we ride on the road crossing East West Highway
then on Jones Bridge Road we make the little climb up the hill then turn onto the Capital Crescent Trail heading towards downtown Bethesda
the trail is packed... hard to believe that there could be a moment's consideration to remove this trail for the light rail train system

we weave our way through the variety of trial users
then where the Capital Crescent Trail crosses Bethesda Avenue we take it to the streets

Bethesda Avenue is its usual cluster fuck
drivers looking for vacant spaces
pedestrians crossing where ever they want with their entire focus on their smart phones
double parked vehicles
the usual car chaos

riding a little too comfortably I have Dean follow me
we ride to the right of traffic along side the parked cars

it is a tight little weave
not thinking I ride as I would normally ride
not modifying things for my son trailing behind me
we split the cars in the space in between parked cars and moving traffic

a double parked cab blocks our way
we sneak in around to the left of the taxi
my son feels that it was a little close and a little dangerous
I realize that we should avoid this street in the future
thinking that we could go a block or two further and avoid the chaos

at the corner of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Blvd we stop at the front of the right lane before the crosswalk
I coach Dean about the light cycle and how things will unfold
cross traffic will get the Red... then we will get the Green... oncoming traffic will have the red
we will move forward watching to see if the cars to our left are going left or merging with us straight ahead

then it happens...
a cyclist that we had passed earlier down the block comes up from the left
riding on the double line around traffic
then into the crosswalk
finally staging right in front of us... in the crosswalk

I try to engage him... but he is not listening
there is a competitiveness to me
there is also a frustration I have with people not giving me my turn and right to space
I watch the light

the lights are changing
I coach Dean to be ready... letting him know that I want him to watch the cars... make sure that they are stopped and be ready... when it turns GREEN I want to be MOVING!
so... the car traffic on Arlington Blvd gets the yellow and then the red

ready and waiting... as the light turns green I pedal forward
I go straight
the cyclist is not in my path
we are moving... he is just getting started

then, in a clumsy fashion the cyclist queued in front of us bobbles his effort to get his foot on his pedals
without his bicycle moving forward he has lost his balance
unable to keep his bike upright... he falls into me just as I am passing
then just after we connect he starts in on me... something about me and how I am supposed to warn him when I am coming

I was in my spot.... waiting for my turn... I went straight holding my line

it got awkward... it got worse
this guy felt he was in the right and so did I

it was awkward.... this guy was mouthing off to me in front of me and I was giving it right back
not the best parental moment

in an effort to maintain the conflict this guy started in on yet another infraction
he was putting his bicycle between me and my son
under no situation should a cyclist pass in between two other cyclists 
the pass should be made to the outside... ESPECIALLY IF ONE OF THOSE CYClSTS IS A CHILD!

as this guy mouthed off to me I turned to my son ignoring this guy and said
Dean... hit your brakes
we each hit our brakes, not stopping, but slowing our momentum.... sending the idiot cyclist forward
still mouthing off at me I watched what direction this guy was going... I was intent on going any direction he was not going

our plan was to go left... the idiot on the bike went straight through the DO NOT ENTER

I know... I know... I know...
this guy thinks he is the long time cyclist... the veteran
the one who know these streets
the one who knows the rules

but no...
he may know certain things
but all I saw was his actions were selfish
his behavior was unsafe and inconsiderate

no... it is not my right to go around trying to teach lessons
I regret interacting with him
I should have never engaged him
just as with any of these confrontational interactions
there is never a positive outcome... just added frustration

and in front of my SON!

but... my boys see me honking at car drivers... flipping off car drivers as a pedestrian... this is nothing new

but really
it is all so unhealthy
it all just adds more frustration
there is never a solution
just more anxiety

I know this guy got home and told his friend... his wife... his 12 cats about the idiot and his kid on the bike

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