Tuesday evening, I was traveling east on Ennis Street, through our downtown area. There is a two block span of the road that changes from a four-lane to a two lane to accommodate angle parking. The approach looks like this-
In spite of the traffic sign ordering through traffic to merge left, and no traffic control lane markers to indicate side by side travel, folks continue as though the the street configuration has not changed. This traffic crime is never enforced, and so scofflaw motoring is the order of the day.
I, not wanting to join the lawlessness and be a scofflaw cyclist, obey the law and merge left to travel in the left tire track near the center line because of the hazard presented by automobiles pulling out of the angled parking spaces. At the end of the two blocks, after this intersection and on the approach to the railroad tracks, it becomes a four-lane again.
As I approach the railroad tracks, I do a shoulder check, and finding the lane clear, I merge right and continue in the left tire track of the right lane.
Behind me a motorist honks his horn. I ignore him. Traffic flows past me in the next lane. The motorist honks again at me, and then finally decides to roar past me in a huff. I spit in his general direction as he does so. The second photograph below is about where we were at that point.
The motorist, in a full size diesel pick-up truck, brakes hard to give me a piece of his mind. (Rather dangerous. He has so little of the stuff!) Of coarse he overshoots as I continue at a steady pace. I then come to a stop at this intersection at the stop line. He pulls up beside me with the passenger window down...
Angry Motorist: "Don't you dare spit on my truck!" (He is leaning forward, screaming past the passenger, a woman about his age.)
Me: "Don't bully law abiding citizens!" (I raise my voice enough so he can hear me, but I refrain from screaming.)
Angry Motorist: "You are not allowed to ride in the middle of the street!"
Me: "Do you just make up the laws as you go along?" (He surprises me by becoming apoplectic at this statement.)
The angry motorist pulls out his wallet and flashes a badge at me.
Angry cop "I am a cop, and you have to get out of the road!"
Me "If I broke the law write me a ticket!"
(He says something here, about me breaking the law or I have to ride differently, I don't remember. He was so wrong I wasn't listening carefully to him. After each statement of his I just repeat my challenge to him to write me a ticket if I were breaking the law. After two more go-rounds like this...)
Angry cop "Do I look like I'm on duty here?" (He was pulling at his shirt to display it to me, indicating that it wasn't a uniform.)
Me "Either write me a ticket or shut up!"
At this point the conversation ended because the light turned green, and we proceeded on our way. He- getting an earful from his passenger- and me, controlling my narrow lane.
Naturally, we think of better things to do or say immediately after it is over. Sadly, I missed a great opportunity here. At the next signal that can barely be seen in the last two pictures, he turned left, which coincidentally was where I was headed on my errand.
He pulled into a gas station, and I went to the store in the next building. As I was about to don my street shoes, it occurred to me that it would be good to find out what police department he worked for, as he could use a little brush-up on Texas bicycle law. As I rushed back to the gas station, I began to hope that I could get his photograph as well!
Alas, I was too late, he was pulling out as I approached. He fled from me, the coward! (Ha! Not really. He seemed to be getting some emphatic advice from his passenger after they saw me riding up. I can only guess who has the power in that relationship!)
Where the West Begins
2 weeks ago