Would you rather be Right and Dead?

That was how an over-sized motorist ended our conversation. There was some truth to his statement, but there was also a morbid warning from a motorist who thinks they own the street to a cyclist who thought he had a teachable moment.

Let me set the stage. (It’s not all pretty. I’ll admit in advance I could have handled myself better.)

My daughter had a gymnastics class on the other side of King Street a short jaunt down the Iron Horse trail. So I asked her if she wanted to ride her bicycle or take the trailer. She choose her bicycle. This was her first big ride, probably her longest ride if only a few kilometers.

The incident happened on our return trip. I was biking east up Union between Park and King, my daugher on the sidewalk, I on a moutain bike riding on the road.  It seemed odd that I too didn’t ride on the sidewalk, but today I wanted to honour the by-law.

Where the road narrows due to a pedestrian island across from Sun Life and it’s parking lot a large pick up truck began to accelerate to a pass. There wasn’t enough room. At the time I was probably dangerously close to the curb as I focused on my daughter biking.  I realized that this guy didn’t have enough room so I took the lane. He was furious, honking his horn and faked accelerating towards me a few times.  I turned and gave him the one fingered salute as I dismounted my bike and got off the side of the road. He slowed down, I knocked on the his door, he rolled down his window and told me that I had to get out of his way. I told him the lane was mine and that he better read his drivers manual ( a few times).  Then asked me:

“Would you rather be Right and Dead?”

I rolled my eyes and suddenly remembered my daughter was just crossing the parking lot driveway. Our conversation ended, my adrenaline pumping, I then had to explain my actions to my 5 year old who had wisely stopped before the driveway crossing.

What would I do next time? Hop the curb ride on the grass boulevard. Allow the vehicle to pass closely. Take the lane then pull into the driveway of the parking lot and ignore the honking horns. All of those would have been better than blowing a gasket in front of my daughter who I was trying to give confidence to riding her bicycle.

I guess we’re all human and there’s always next time.

So how would you answer the question, ‘would you rather be right and dead’?

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A fellow cyclist in London, Rantwick recently posted a couple of great video clips on taking the lane.

First not taking the lane (whew, that cube van comes close!):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6xZR1TiKts]

Secondly taking the lane:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFCsuuwd5n0]

6 thoughts on “Would you rather be Right and Dead?

  1. The driver in this situation has analyzed the situation as a false dichotomy- implying you have a choice between causing your own death and “winning” an “argument”, or being perfectly safe and “loosing” an “argument”, where the “argument” here is who gets to use the road.

    In the “not dead but wrong” category, he endangers your life by passing too closely. So he’s wrong on you being “safe”.

    In the “right but dead” category, he implies that despite you being right in front of him and clearly visible, he would still run you over, which means he has the intent to murder you. So it’s not you responsible for the “dead” bit, but him.

  2. Such people are everywhere. I cannot possibly accept a few seconds delay in my journey because I am oh so important. In fact I’m so important that I have to take time out of my busy schedule to issue what amounts to a death threat thus taking up far more time than the few seconds it would have taken to wait.

  3. “Are you threatening to murder me next time?”

    Followed by a report to the police regardless of his answer. Reports of aggressive driving do go on a driver’s record. The police will also call the driver and explain to them the rules of the road.

  4. I had almost this exact same incident occur just a couple blocks away on Park street last year… (probably the same guy?)

    He was actually quite far back but accelerating when I took the lane. He continued to accelerate, then dipped into the opposite lane and then cut back in front of me, right before the median, an obviously dangerous move.

    When I caught up to him, he said I didn’t have the right to take the lane. I said that I certainly did. He countered by saying that, even if I had the right, my decision to take the lane was dangerous. We agreed to disagree.

    Only later did it occur to me that he had clearly decided to “teach me a lesson” not to “dangerously” take the lane (as though allowing him to pass me on a narrow road is safe) by doing something even more dangerous to my safety. This was over a year ago, and I’m still angry about it. I should have called the police.

  5. There was no reason for the driver to say what he said.

    If the road is very congested and thick with fast cars plus trying to deal with a child cycling on the sidewalk, then I may have opted to ride on the sidewalk with her. However she sounded old enough….to understand instructions.

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