Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It ain't what they call you; it's what you answer to. (W.C. Fields)

Our favorite ride is from our home on the mainland out to the lighthouse in Cape Florida State Park on the tip of Key Biscayne. It's a route that includes a large bridge, miles of pedaling along Biscayne Bay, views of the Port of Miami with the cruise and cargo ships, the Miami Seaquarium, the Mast Academy, Virginia Key, coffee spots on Key Biscayne, and finally the quiet of the state park and the boardwalks to the beaches. We do loops of this route several times a week. It just never gets old.

Since we often do nine or more loops of this route each week, we cross Bear Cut Bridge a lot. They are doing construction work on Bear Cut Bridge. The old bicycle lanes have been a temporary casualty of this activity. Four lanes remain for traffic, two each way. There is no space outside these four lanes on the bridge. The right lane in each direction is a sharrow, a lane with markings reminding traffic that the lane is shared by both bicycles and cars. It generally works just fine.


We were riding at a brisk pace over Bear Cut Bridge this past week when a woman in a black high-end SUV got behind us and began tooting her little SUV horn. Glancing in my rear-view mirror, I saw a very attractive young woman at the wheel, gesturing for us to move to the far right so she could pass us in the sharrow. In her large SUV. (Wasn't going to happen.)

We used our standard approach, learned through many years of sharing rural roads with cracker yahoos in pick up trucks and semi-senile grumpy geezers. We ignored her and kept riding. Her next move was to cut off a car in the left lane, pull abreast of us, slowing to our biking pace and continuing her rant. This was not appreciated by the line of cars behind her. We continued to ignore her and kept riding.

Then she powered down her side window, yelling her opinion of cyclists, and edged into our lane a foot. That was when we reacted. We simultaneously gestured our feelings and loudly told her to get moving. Her face contorted in anger and surprise, but she powered up her window and drove away.

I glanced at the cars behind her as they went by. To my surprise, the drivers were smiling and several gave us the thumbs up sign. By this time we were off the bridge and back in the bike lane.

Overall, we've been impressed with Miami drivers. Yeah, there are problem drivers. But these are pretty much found anywhere. Because thousands of cars and hundreds of cyclists share the single thoroughfare that is the bridges and causeway to and from Key Biscayne, it is sometimes hard to keep things in perspective. This week we encountered one crazy woman in a high-end SUV. But there were also all the drivers who gave us a smile and a friendly thumbs up as they drove by us afterwards.

I can live with that.