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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hostility in Winter Park [Commute Orlando]


This is my route to the Winter Park Farmers Market. It’s almost entirely residential streets, connected by the Mead Garden Trail. It’s not a route on which I would expect to be aggressively intimidated.
It was a typical ride in which I exchanged friendly greetings with several people, both on foot and in cars. That’s why I like using residential streets — human connectedness makes for higher quality trips. I crossed paths with our buddy Stix on the Mead Garden Trail, and a few blocks later I saw my good friend Julie biking on Minnesota Ave. Julie decided to join me and go to the farmers market.
When we got to the intersection of New York and Fairbanks, the light was red. We were first at the light. I stopped in the right half of the lane, Julie stopped to my left. We chatted as we waited for the light to change. A car pulled up behind us as we waited.
When the light changed, Julie dropped behind me. On the other side of the intersection, the lane is narrow and next to on-street parking. It’s not wide enough to ride two abreast with one rider out of the door zone and still give drivers behind a good view of the oncoming lane (in case they want to pass).
We were not even to the other side of Fairbanks when I could hear the engine winding up in the car behind us. One oncoming car cleared the intersection, then the road ahead was empty for 2 blocks. Engine revving, the passing car was suddenly right next to me — 6 inches away. This driver had all the room in the world to move over and give us plenty of passing clearance, but instead he was deliberately coming as close as he could, while accelerating hard.
There is absolutely no advantage to passing bicyclists between Fairbanks and Lyman on Saturday morning. The farmers market creates congestion, with cars pulling in and out of the loading area and pedestrians crossing New York, coming to and from their cars. Even though he was accelerating like he was on a speedway, I knew I could catch him, so I took off after him, pulling my iPhone out of my (tragically uncool but very utilitarian) fannypack.

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