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keep to the right

I like automobiles as much as any American. I’m an enthusiast for classics, and I also like good old muscle cars as well as new hybrids and electrics. I love driving, and am proud to say I’ve driven through every American state with the exception of Hawaii.

I’m also a bicycle enthusiast. I love old classic models, and enjoy commuting whenever I can by pedal power. It’s a pleasant way to get around. Except when drivers cut me off. Or ride my ass and beep. Or roll down their windows and yell at me to get off the road.

The other day, some fat shit in a BMW grazed my leg with his rear-view mirror. Plenty of room for him to avoid me. It knocked me off balance but I didn’t spill. When I caught up with him at the light I told him to share the road. He told me to get out of the street. I told him to fuck off. The law says I have to ride in the street. Then he told me to fuck off, rolled up his window and stared up at the light, as if willing it to turn green. Then I pulled the chain out of my bag and smashed his headlight. It was a fancy one that pivots as the driver turns the steering wheel. He started to get out of the car, and I came around to meet him, swinging my chain. He hopped back in and laid rubber getting away.

Shocking, I know. But that dipshit’s carelessness could’ve killed me, and I have a wife and two kids.

Was I wrong? How would you have handled the situation?

Dad Gone Mad

The Gay Perspective: Yes, you were wrong, and you know it. You could have noted his license plate number and notified the police of his dangerous driving. While he did provoke you by hitting you with his car, what you did was to bully him, and it was criminal to boot. On the other hand, I suspect that your handling of the situation is more likley to get the guy to share the road than what I would have done.

The Omniscient One says: While you have a legitimate complaint with this driver, it sounds like your road rage was allowed to escalate in part because he was a “fat shit” in a BMW and you wanted to physically intimidate him the way he tried to intimidate you with his car. Would you have smashed his headlight if he had been a 300-pound muscle-laden guy in a truck with “Die Motherfucker” tattooed across his forehead? I doubt it.

Strictly Classified says: Sounds like you were having a Howard Beale (or Carl Paladino) “mad as hell” moment. Here’s the deal: You were wrong (but with your adrenaline pumping, it’s understandable). Should you encounter a similar situation in the future (and I hope you don’t), try to keep your temper in check. Get a good look at the driver, car, and plate number, and call 911 (and perhaps an attorney).

The Straight Skinny: So, I’m sitting in my car at a stoplight, with my eight-year-old, ever alert, next to me. He wants to know how many molecules are in the universe, how big a googleplex is, whether Yoda is stronger than Gandalf. And finally, a real question presents itself—hooray! A car has sideswiped a biker—so I’ll get to talk to my kid all about bike safety, and driver responsibilities, and the importance of wearing a helmet, and how roads are really designed so the auto industry can get rich. First, though, I get to tell him that we’re going to take down the license plate of the car, and help the biker. But just as we’re about to get out of the car, the biker leaps off his bike, wielding a chain, and smashes the car’s headlight. Now the driver’s out of the car, furious, the biker is waving his chain around like it’s a mace, and my kid is wide-eyed as I peel away.

And all the lessons we might have talked about get winnowed down to one: The world is full of sociopathic maniacs, whether they’re in the 99 percent or the one percent.

The Practical Cogitator says: This is tough. I drive and ride. While I’m driving, I’m always very nervous of the cyclists on the road, especially narrow roads. Some cyclists are great, they use hand signals, stay to the right and are aware of the vehicular traffic around them. Some cyclists scare me silly.They swerve, ride in the middle of the road as though they were a vehicle, cut across traffic to make erratic turns, very scary, and if they are wearing headphones, then that has me worried also as one of their senses is pre-occupied.

When I’m riding I also tend to be concerned for the crazy drivers you’re talking about. Or car doors opening suddenly in front of me, and right on red drivers who don’t look in their rear-view mirrors. I like the exercise but the stress it causes to my heart and mind might not be worth it. So, I see both sides of your cycling dilemma.

What I don’t understand is that you “told him to share the road.” Maybe asking him to share the road would have gotten you further. I also don’t understand the chain, the property damage, the cursing. Doesn’t seem like you share very well. You were wrong. I hope you aren’t swinging that chain at your wife and two kids.

Smart Money says: You were wrong. You should have hit that asshole in the face. Then you should have curbed him. I feel the same way about tailgaters. They should all die horrible deaths. Texters too.

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