A day in the life of a bike commuter, looking at cars that take over the bike/bus only lanes. I'm an advocate of the "Share the Road" program and would like to see police enforcement of the cars illegally driving in the bike/bus lanes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

DC Bike Commuter Faces Hostile Biker on CC Trail

A reader asked me to post about his recent encounter with a hostile biker on the Capital Crescent Trail. Read the full story here.

On my daily commute between Bethesda and downtown DC I expect the occasional encounter with an aggressive, even hostile, driver, but last night was my first encounter with a foaming-at-the-mouth hostile cyclist.

I was on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT), heading toward Bethesda at around 6:00 p.m. I had been enjoying a leisurely ride when a guy passed me by the Dalecarlia Tunnel going at a pretty good clip, and I thought it would be a good pace to get me home quickly. So I sprinted the 100 yards or so to catch up and settled in behind him, figuring that as soon as I recovered from the effort of catching up, I would return the favor and take a pull as pace-setter, a totally acceptable and ordinary practice, not to mention a nice way to meet and exchange stories with other cyclists.

But this nut-job I was following had other plans. First of all, he would pass people without warning them or signaling me, which I found dangerous, so I backed off a little, keeping about 3 feet of space between us. My bike has a bell, so I would ding it a couple of times if I saw someone up the road. Unless he was deaf or wearing headphones (which I did not see), there is no way in h*ll that he did not know I was back there.

At this point, I had been behind the guy for a maximum of a half-mile (we were now nearing the stairway that leads down off of the east side of the CCT toward the walking path along the Little Falls stream). I had caught my breath fully and had just begun to look up the road to see if it was clear for me to come around to take a pull when, WHAM! He slams on his brakes, locking up both wheels and, of course, sending me into the back of his bike.

Over the screech of our skidding tires, without looking up, the guy yells, “I KNEW IT!” and then turns around, face purple with rage, and adds for good measure, “A**HOLE!” and then pedals hard up the road. Somehow I had managed to grab my brakes and unclip. It was only dumb luck that I avoided going down hard.

I’ve been an avid cyclist for over 20 years, putting in 1,500 – 4,500 miles per year in commutes (year-round), large weekend club rides, small group rides, and solo treks. I have only once before heard someone express anger at a cyclist for following, and that person expressed it verbally, not by pulling a dangerous stunt like this.

Was it wrong or impolite for me to sit in behind another rider in the first place?

To the general cycling public: be on the lookout for a guy in his mid-40’s (a wild guess), wearing round, metal-framed eyeglasses, riding a hard-tail mountain bike with a rack and a single pannier slung over the drive side. The rack may have a broken reflector. Yesterday he was wearing black, red, blue Performance brand shorts and a black cycling jacket.

Cycling is one of the great joys of my life, but for a few seconds last night, one strange, hostile (possibly deaf?) man, sucked all of the joy from it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only say that you should remember that most cyclists would never unload on a fellow cyclist. Don't let this event sour your mood or outlook.

In a similar event, I fell and injured my shoulder on the CC trail a few months ago. While down on the pavement a cyclist came the other way and skillfully went around me without offering to help me get up, which I desperately needed. I try to forget that one person, and remember so many others that would help.

Lindsay great to see you're still posting. Keep it up!

Saturday, 14 April, 2007

Blogger lee.watkins said...

It's not about you. It's about personal space... in the USA people are crazy about personal space, including with driving. He dared another traveler to get too close, so he could teach them who's boss.

Friday, 20 April, 2007

Blogger gwadzilla said...

I will put it like this
and excuse me if I am yelling
but I am drunk



pace lines and drafting on the capital crescent trail is for jokers
drafting off a stranger...
I do not get it

Thursday, 24 May, 2007

Blogger gwadzilla said...

to finish a thought...

not that the actions of the lead rider was correct

in life there is action and reaction

had the cyclist not been tailgating on the multiuse trail
the lead rider would not have been aggravated

I ride that trail quite frequently
the pace lines are a menace to the trail

the fight for the crown of king of the capital crescent trail is a danger to all

there are races held locally nearly every weekend
race there
not on the bike path

cyclists need to apply the same common sense to the bicycle that they would apply to driving a car

the pace line of too often has a lead rider going through a situation where they are clear
while the following riders follow blindly
causing near head on collisions

no headphones on the bike trail
no drafting on the bike trail

maybe some common sense and some common courtesy would help

as far as reading anyone's mind
I have no idea what any of these people were thinking

but if someone wants to lead a pace line and do training ride techniques
MacArthur Blvd is right there

Friday, 25 May, 2007

Blogger gwadzilla said...

when these things occur there needs to be some reflection...

a look in the mirror

and an amount of humility

we need to see our part in the puzzle

like the woman getting hit by the cyclist on the CCT

she was wearing headphones and made a buttonhook into the trail

she contributed to the incident

link in the post


and something from Washcycle


if you want to ride with someone
introduce yourself and create a repoire

(and yes... I know I do not know how to spell)

don't assume that you will latch onto someone's wheel
then they will desire to do the same

that story says challenge
not friendship

there is a good lesson for everyone to learn

we should learn to not behave like either party in that situation

Friday, 25 May, 2007

Blogger Rob said...

Somedays I thing Gwadzilla always posts while drunk, the only difference is he typed to lines in caps.

As for the events, yes the first rider was a D**k for slamming on his brakes like that but when pacing off people especially random's on any of the trails here I usually ask if I can pace of them if I'm going to ride closer than a length or two back.

Admittedly I've given tailgater's on the road a good scare or two by braking short when I'm being pissy, but I've never caused a wreck. In general if someome errr, hung close and I was annoyed I'd simply slow my pace down and let people pass.

Saturday, 26 May, 2007


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