Saturday, August 18, 2012

While riding today in Kaysville, UT, on the way back to Layton, where I'm staying for a few weeks for work, I was in the right lane of two going the same direction, four total, when a car got right behind me, slammed on its brakes, tailgated me, and then passed me within inches, even though the other lane in the same direction was completely empty.  Pretty generic story so far, right?

Then he turned, almost immediately after passing me, into the next parking lot.  Despite my dismay that his destination ranked higher in his mind than my life, I realized that I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him about the situation that he had just caused.  Note that I say "conversation," not "confrontation."  I was surprisingly not angry, I suppose because I'm so used to this situation and I wanted to take this opportunity to inform him of what had happened and try to figure out why it happened.

I approached him as he got out of his vehicle and told him that he had passed me extremely closely.  His response was that I needed to use the bike lane.  Then I said, "There was no bike lane there; that was just the road shoulder.  But regardless, you still need to pass me safely, leaving three feet between us."  The rest of the argument is similar and mostly a blur in my memory, but after I decided I'd wasted enough time on this stubborn jackass (of course I did not call him that to his face or even raise my voice), I said, "Please be more careful in the future.  My life's at stake here," which I think is a pretty rational request.  His response? "I will when you use the bike lane."  Apparently he hadn't heard a word I'd said in the last two minutes.  Then I took a picture of his license plate, asked if he knew the Kaysville Police Department's non-emergency number so that I could report a dangerous driver, and left.  Last I heard, the Davis County Sheriff's Office was sending an officer to try to make contact with the driver.  Hopefully he is successful and it scares this driver enough that he doesn't endanger another biker's life as "punishment" for not using the "bike lane."

Note: In Utah, as in Ohio, there is no requirement for bikes to use the bike lane.  They are allowed to use whichever lane is required by the conditions, staying as far right as practicable (which typically IS the bike lane, but not always).  Thus, even if it had been a bike lane instead of a shoulder, I would have been in more danger riding there because he very likely would have hit me as he turned in front of me across my lane and into the parking lot.

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