Riding Bikes, Learning Lessons

Almost all of the time, I love Seattle. I love that it’s green and I can see mountains and there’s public transportation and it’s relatively safe. I love that it’s walkable and I hear ships’ foghorns in the morning and I love the coffee. In fact, the things I do not love about Seattle are so few compared to the things I love about it that I hardly ever consider them at all.


One of the things that drives me bonkers about Seattle – my part of it, anyway – is the pansy ass sense of privilege. The sense that anyone should be able to do anything they want to do, as long as it doesn’t interfere with what you’re doing because if it does, they’re wrong and you’re entitled to lecture them about it. And of course they can’t say anything back, because they’re wrong and that’s how the world works. And if they do say something back, anything at all, then they’re “aggressive,” a word that gets misused about as much as does “random” by people of equally great stupidity.

There’s this trail in our neighborhood. I walk on it a lot, as does Graham and our other friends. Part of the trail intersects with the back road coming out of the grocery store, which normally isn’t a problem because a) there’s a stop sign there and b) most people who use the trail are normal human beings.

Every now and then, though, I encounter some fuckhead on a bike who is convinced that he owns the pavement a half mile behind and a half mile in front of him, and anyone who happens to cross the path must be told that they’re oppressing him and his right to ride a bike.

To which I say hey, you can just fuck right the fuck off, pal.

Because if I’m leaving the grocery store and you’re not immediately at the intersection, I’m driving through it. That’s what cars do. That’s how roads work. It’s not my responsibility to wait for you to pedal down the path, across the road, and off into the distance somewhere just because you’re on your bike. We’re in a city where everyone claims a space. If you see a car up ahead, maybe slow down. Don’t barrel through the intersection expecting them to be magically alerted of your presence. That’s how you get run over. In other cities. Actually, in other cities far worse things can happen when you think you can boss a stranger around, but most people in Seattle are so used to this wonderful green space where feelings matter that they don’t realize this.

Today’s fuckhead in question waited until I was already halfway through the intersection before screeching to a stop at my driver’s side door. I paused and looked up because what the fuck, and also he was already maneuvering his bike around my car. Which had had the right of way. Because he wasn’t at the intersection when I started driving through it.

And then he stopped.

Right in front of my car.

So I said, “Go the fuck around, dude!”

And he looked at me, cupped a hand to his ear, and asked, “What did you say to me?”

He immediately said it again before I even responded, which signaled that he wasn’t really asking me what I’d said, he was letting me know that he was entitled to teach me a lesson, and that he was expecting me to be cowed by a middle-aged white guy riding a bicycle on a recreational trail in the middle of a fucking weekday.

To which I say bitch, I am from South City and you just picked the wrong person to attempt to intimidate.

I really don’t have a problem with bikes. Graham rides one. A lot of people ride them. And these people have equal right of way as people in cars. I give bikes a wide berth. I give them the go-ahead. I do this because most people on bikes know how to ride them, and don’t treat them like magical chariots of invincibility.

So while the guy was stopped in front of my car, asking me to repeat myself, I shocked him by actually repeating myself.

“I said GO THE FUCK AROUND, DUDE.” Then I added, “And while you’re at it, GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CAR.”

He looked taken aback, but recovered enough to give me a condescending teacher look and say “Why don’t you watch the fucking trail next time?”

To which I said, “How about you shut your fucking mouth before I run your fucking bike over, dickhead?”

And then he tried to give me the finger, which was pretty hilarious because he was wearing expensive gloves that didn’t allow any freedom of movement. So basically, he showed me his fist. But he still didn’t move, so I inched my car forward. You want to lecture me, fine, but know that I do not even play.

The look on his face was of such disbelief that a motorist would dare talk back to him, or possibly that a woman would dare attempt to extract herself from a situation of his making. You know, as if anyone in any other city couldn’t just pull out a gun and forcibly remove him from it. “You’re a fucking bitch,” he said as he finally started to pedal away.

At this time I’d already begun rolling down my window, so he heard me loud and clear when I responded with “AND YOU’RE A WHITE BREAD WASTE OF A FUCKING INCOME, YOU COCKSUCKER.”

Because I am from South City, I do not even play, and I don’t feel very well today and anyone who gets between me and my own bathroom is getting told.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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8 Responses to Riding Bikes, Learning Lessons

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Tory says:

    Sigh. You’re doing Seattle now, but I predict you’ll be back in South City (probably alone) before you hit 40, still pissed off and unhappy, but for a whole new set of reasons.

    • erineph says:

      And you’ll still be living in DC, wondering why there’s still no cool part of town but pretending to satisfy your disappointment by hate-commenting on some stranger’s blog.

  3. Pascal Aulne says:

    1) What is South City? Atlanta? If so, and you are from America’s most sprawling and auto-centric city, it makes sense that you are so hostile to bicyclists. Don’t forget, they are human beings, too!
    2) Are you talking about the Burke Gilman trail behind the Fred Meyer in Ballard? If so, you are totally in the wrong. To demean this individual for “riding a bicycle on a recreational trail in the middle of a fucking weekday” is ludicrous; it is a part of Seattle’s transportation network, not just a recreational trail. How do you know he wasn’t riding home from work? And if it’s like you say, and he was riding it just for fun, what difference does it make? Couldn’t someone just as easily judge you for being at a grocery store ‘in the middle of a fucking weekday’? (Get a job!)

    I ride this trail from my home in Ballard to school at the UW and work in Fremont every day, just like thousands of other commuters. Some people ride it recreationally, some people ride it to work.

    Bicyclists and pedestrians are vulnerable users, and by law have the right of way at any road intersection. I don’t know what sort of backward place “South City” is, but your attitude is not welcome here. Bicyclists DO own the pavement on the Burke Gilman- automobiles must yield to bikes. And, you know, STOP at stop signs!

    Why did you casually blow through an intersection that you KNOW intersects a popular bike and pedestrian trail without first checking for bicyclists and pedestrians? Get a clue. Hope you learn your lesson before you send someone to the hospital.

    • erineph says:

      Thanks for itemizing your list. It makes it easier to respond to you.

      1. No, I’m not from Atlanta. If you’d bothered to read any more of this blog (or even the post itself, as I’ll get to later), you’d know this.

      2. I’m not sure what part of the entry led you to determine that I’m “so hostile to bicyclists,” as I clearly noted that my boyfriend rides as a commuter and that I do give right of way.

      3. I’m also not sure why you understood that I was demeaning a person simply for being a recreational bicyclist in the middle of the day. Or why you would assume that I didn’t stop at a stop sign, preferring to blow through an intersection. Or why you’d assume that I was riding on the trail pavement. Actually, no, I do know why. It’s because you’re a poor reader. You’re also an emotionally-charged reactionary with a complex, much like the man in the entry. Believe it or not, your feelings are not the most important ones in the world, nor do your life choices supersede those of others. Which brings me to the next point…

      4. No one owns anything in a city (pavement being an exceptionally ludicrous claim). We share everything, we make room, and understanding this – which means knowing how to watch for traffic and somehow prevent yourself from careening into cars, pedestrians, or other bikes – is what allows us to remain above the petty need to lecture a total stranger. Perhaps if you weren’t from such a “backwards place,” you’d understand this. Bicyclists are legally required to abide by the same traffic laws as motorists. Motorists like myself, as I clearly stated that I was abiding by traffic laws. You know, at a stop sign. At which I stopped. And when I checked, there was no bicyclist. So I started driving. After which point, the incident occurred. I apologize if this was overly complicated, but I hope that my repeating it made sense to you.

      5. I hope you’ve reached the end of this reply, as you didn’t seem to reach the end of the entry itself. I also hope that your pretentious attitude doesn’t land you in the hospital someday, as I suspect it might.

    • After riding my bike down Lexington Ave in rush hour this morning from 77th past Grand Central, I can tell you, bicyclists that act like this are the ones who are going to get hurt. All drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists need to work together and give everyone a little room, physically and mentally.

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