Left the house this AM to Fog disguised as rain. I slowly picked my way down the hill into the heart of Noe Valley and headed down 24th towards the Mission. As I crossed Guerrero, a black Mercedes passed me just as the road headed down the slope with about 4 inches to spare. In wet conditions like this it was super sketchy, getting hit or making an evasive maneuver could put me on the ground in an instant.
As always, the net result of this was that the Black Mercedes beat me to the stop light at Valencia by a few seconds where we both waited for the light. I passed him on the left to set up for a left turn onto Valencia, and I turned to give him a glare - not expecting to bark - and noticed him with his face focused on his iPhone which he was frantically typing into. That was too much. I barked "Ah, that's why you almost hit me, texting and driving".
Now this was a big dude, dressed and styled like the sort of guy who looks like he gets into bar fights all the time, and I really expected him to throw out a string of expletives at me. Instead he took me off guard completely - "I not driving now, seriously I only pulled the phone out when I was fully stopped at the red light! I NEVER text while the car is moving!" This disarmed me a bit but I was still a little annoyed - "If it wasn't texting, then why did you pass me with 6 inches of clearance!"
"There was no more room", he replied, and I said "Man, it's wet out here and if there's no room, wait until there is!" He replied "I'm sorry man, I totally respect you guys out here riding your bikes". If he wasn't sincere, he was a hell of a politician. I said "Love the attitude man, love it - the execution's a bit off but that's the easy part, have a good day and drive safe" and he gave me a thumbs up.
I was completely baffled by how this went down, but it sure beats the alternative. When Joe Bar Fighter in a super expensive Mercedes (I have to admit it was a very slick looking car) is embarrassed to be seen as a driver who texts or threatens cyclists, maybe we're turning the corner.