Last night riding down Townsend with my buddy Dan, we were side by side having a chat. Which is one of the great things about bike commuting, you aren't encased in your cocoon ambivalent to the world, you are in it. For example the other day I saw a woman with an Obama bumper sticker on her bike fender, I said "Proof you don't need a bumper to have a bumper sticker". I ended up riding from 18th to Market on Valencia with a 50-something woman I have never met before, having a chat. Never happens in a car. But I digress...
They recently painted a white stripe on the sides of Townsend, a joke of a road with no sidewalks, diagonal parking, and several bus stops for the 19 and the Academy of Art Shuttles (no sidewalks so we'll just drop 100's of people daily to walk down the middle of the street). The stripe sort of keeps the cars to the middle of the street which is perhaps why they painted it there. Of course this also makes them think that the 1000's of bikes who use Townsend - the main route to Caltrain - have to be outside this white line in the potholes, in the blind spots of people pulling out of diagonal parking, and sharing non-existent space with pedestrians.
So I hear this commotion behind me and this car pulls up and the passenger yells "GET IN THE BIKE LANE". I think being in the middle of the conversation makes me better at the quick answer "There is no bike lane" and I went back to my conversations. He wittily responded "F**K YOU".
Several blocks later I came across Trinh Bui also riding home and we started up a chat (again this never happens in your car, or at least it should not). We were riding down 15th leisurely taking one of the two lanes (15th is one way) as there was heavy traffic and there are stop signs at each block. I heard a honk behind me and noted a mini-van. Given the opposite lane was clear and we were basically tailgating a car, I didn't pay much attention. Stopped in 3rd slot at Mission, he pulled up next to me, I looked and said "Hi" to the passenger,this prompted the driver to spew some sort of vitriol to me about blocking the road. I assessed this situation and decided to blow this one off and just rolled on at the green.
In related news - JD Power and Associates today said that the global auto industry may experience an "outright collapse" in 2009.
Another benefit of the bike commute - I stopped to shoot this picture on the way in last week.