Let me first preempt this by saying one thing: I’ve been a good bike rider lately. Not good as in learning new tricks and being really consistent. No, we know that would never happen. I mean good from a safe bicyclist standpoint. I’ve been stopping at lights, riding where I should on the road and with the flow of traffic, crossing streets at cross walks instead of at will, etc. I even use lights now! Let me also say that with each passing day, I see how very, very dangerous it is to be riding a bike in the city.
So I’ve been doing my best to be a courteous bike rider; one that shares the road with automobiles and doesn’t shock any drivers with sudden irrational or reckless movements.
Today though, it makes me want to take all that away and go back to being the irrational, reckless idiot that got me here in the first place. It started out innocently enough, riding across town to meet a friend at a U-Haul Rental Station (more on that later this week). The ride across town was maybe three miles, from the North to the South, through the center of the city.
Philadelphia is laid out in a grid pattern, with every other street being one way. It’s flat, full of bike lanes and easy to navigate. In the grand scheme of bike friendliness, it’s actually amazing. So I left the house around 5 pm and started pedaling up North 2nd St. to the center of town. This part was uneventful. But as soon as I crossed underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge, I came upon Race St. The light was red, so I stopped and waited for the light to turn green. When it did, I started across the street, but was stopped suddenly by a yuppie in an SUV on the phone, driving down Race St. and failing to notice the red light he was about to run. He stopped short, beeped at me and made a hand gesture as to say, “What the hell are you doing?” I pointed at his red light, some ten feet above me, and aimed my middle finger directly at him for a good 10 seconds. Moving right along….
I began working my way over the grid to get to 12th St, where the U-Haul Station was located. While taking a Westbound road over to 12th St., one that had two lanes for cars, on street parking and a bike lane, I made my way to the right side of the street. I WAS IN THE BIKE LANE, when an SUV starts beeping behind me. It seems that this gangsta’s Cadillac Escalade was too wide to fit in the lanes without poking through into the bike lane. I looked back at the driver, received a “Get the fuck outta the way” hand gesture from him, then slowed down and kept my position. At the next light, he yelled, “I should bust you upside the head muthafucka.” I gave him the finger as well, yelled, “Your mom should’ve made you gay,” and then darted the wrong way down a one-way street. (The one great thing about being a wise ass with cars is the one-way street; it’s the simplest and most winning way out of a lose-lose situation. Yell something offensive, make a mad dash the wrong way down a street, and the car is fucked. It’s simple economics…)
Shortly thereafter, I arrived at the U-Haul Station unscathed. No shortage of stories to tell from rush hour outside of the North side of Philadelphia. But let’s move onward to tonight.
After arriving back home, eating dinner, working some more, this and that, I decided to go back outside on my bike. Cruising up North 2nd St. again, towards the Ben Franklin Bridge. Before the bridge is a cross street called Callowhill, which features not one, but five lanes of traffic all making a right turn to intersect North 2nd. St. I’ve made the mistake before of going when I shouldn’t have before, and have almost been hit a few times at this light. As I stated earlier, I now wait for the green. So there I sat, waiting for the green. When it turned, I made my way out into the street when a car came speeding along to make the right turn at around 45 mph. Tires squealing, full of five jocks and beeping its horn nonstop. I stopped in the middle of the street to avoid them, as did the car. I said, “What’s the problem?” And the driver answered, “Fuck you.” I returned back with another “Fuck you,” and then the doors of the car started opening, on a car in the middle of a busy street. The jocks had decided to give chase on foot.
Knowing when and where to fight my battles against five idiots, I pedaled away, did a wallride underneath the I-95 overpass and kept on going into Center City. At the same time, my fight or flight instinct told me it was probably best to not stay in the vicinity, just in case these five jocks had nothing better to do than to harass bike riders tonight. So I started pedaling home, up North 3rd St., still adhering to the go-with-the-flow attitude I’ve been trying to stick to.
Before crossing back over Callowhill, I noticed the car full of jocks parking their car at a lame sports bar called Tiki Bob’s. Never been in the place, but it looks as if these idiots would fit right in. So I waited until they were in the bar before making my way up to the place. I spotted them through the glass, knocked on it, pulled my pants down and pressed my ass against the window, then pedaled off. As I pedaled up the mellow incline of North 3rd St., I started to hear taunts from outside of Tiki Bob’s. “Get back here faggot!” “I’ll kick your fucking ass!” Etc, etc.
When I turned around, I spotted the driver of the car in the middle of the street. His arms were raised over his head, he was yelling, “I’ll kill you fucking faggot,” and he was visibly pissed off that he and his friends had to stare at my ass through a bar room window after chasing me on foot a few minutes earlier.
Justice had been served.