Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dread Hangs Oer Me Like Fate's Dark Shadow

It occurs to me
It occurs to me, based on observation while commuting on my bicycle at rush hour, and interpolation of those observations, that cycling on a high-speed street with no bike lanes may be safer because drivers are less likely to be distracted by texting or otherwise operating their smart phones, conditioned as they are to pay somewhat more attention when other metal boxes are careening around theirs also at high speed.

Sure, I'm still not super-comfortable or super-encouraged with large fast vehicles moving at high speed in six lanes all around me on my bicycle, but other than the discomfort that's hard to shake from all the noise and power around me that it could all be over in an instant, not a place I want to spend hours but don't mind spending part of my commute, they seem to see me and when I signal and do what I'm supposed to they do what they're supposed to and it works. 

On the other hand, lately on quiet streets with bike lanes everyone seems to be swerving their SUVs all over the place including into the bike lanes because hey the road looks (pretty much) empty and there's an LOL TXT coming in that has to be attended to, or a tweet to RT, or an FB needing liked, or sth.  

Actual text exchange with my wife today while sitting at my desk at work: 
wife: hey how are you doing? 
me: Dread hangs oer me like fate's dark shadow

I texted that while updating my desk calendar, catching up if you will, writing the number on each month for how many months I have left to live based on standard life expectancy, which may sound rather dark but is something I've done off and on since age 13, but which now results in numbers which are dreadfully low and graspable, a practice which actually serves to focus me a little bit on finitude and here/now etc, and I was in a pretty good mood until I started thinking I'm not going to make it that many months anyway because a driver is going to be updating a pinterest pin of their latest instagram status update via twitter and is going to lane drift right into me at 45mph taking me out and the last thing people will read about me was the catch phrase following the American newspaper vernacular: at least he was wearing a helmet. 

So I scratch off "359" or whatever it was and write "1 left? (wearing helmet)" instead. I don't need a "3 foot law" t-shirt, I need a bright safety yellow STOP F*NG TXTING! shirt. I've suspected two or three times in the last week that a driver saw me, stopped texting long enough to pass me sort of safely, then went back to texting, and swerved into the bike lane just ahead of me while doing so. One cut a corner so close I thought he was going to take out the large bushes planted there. LOL. 

But it's OK, this post right from the title onwards is like listening to the Blues for me, it actually cheers me up and encourages me to get back out there, perhaps try some mirrors to see the drifters coming, and maybe do a little bit of the Grant Petersen unsteady cyclist ahead type swerving just to keep them on their toes a bit. In fact to that end and to cheer up even more I point out the marvelous review from the NYTimes of Mr. Petersen's book written by David Eggers (winner of the American Book Award, $100K TED prize, $250K Heinz Award, a fortuitous book reviewer to get). 

To grab this second photo, I turned out and stopped my bike on the center line of the CLOSED street (local traffic only) to see what kind of shot I could get, only to look behind me to see a local traffic SUV drifting imprecisely back and forth across the CLOSED street. I still got the shot, and can only hope the FB update the driver was making was worth it.

If that was my Cat, I think I'd park it behind some text-proof Jersey barriers


  1. Looks like that Cat has to deal with the cactus army...

    1. The Cat is making an effort to help the cactus army avoid being washed away in a ten year flood, methinks.


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