On my way home from church today, I started down a hill near my house. The speed limit here is 30 and near the base of the hill is a crosswalk that goes from a largely subsidized housing development across to the only 7-11 in the area. This route also happens to lead from the high school towards my house so I travel it often and know that pedestrians entering this crosswalk are often unpredictable. Sure enough, I saw pedestrians approaching the crosswalk, so I stopped to allow them to cross safely.
Oh my goodness. You would have thought, from the guy in the car behind me, that I had committed a federal crime in stopping to wait for a more vulnerable user of the traffic infrastructure. This guy behind me actually honked his horn, furious that I had stopped.
It doesn't end there.
After the pedestrians crossed safely, I resumed travel. This guy (am I allowed to say he was in a silver Mercedes?) roared around me up the hill -- crossing a double yellow line on a two-lane road, aggression and hostility pouring out all over the asphalt. I know this road well and know there are often people crossing near the top -- out of view of the drivers coming up the hill (and where there's no crosswalk). There are bike lanes on this hill, but a right turn lane emerges at the top. If a pedestrian had been crossing up there, or if a cyclist had been in the bike lane as the right turn lane opened up, I think there would have been a tragedy. When he reached the top of the hill (about 5 seconds before me), he flew right at the 4 way stop without stopping.
I don't know what causes this kind of anger. I do know it is very dangerous when someone is driving 2 tons of steel. He wasn't angry at me as a cyclist (although I did have the bike rack on the car, so who knows what was going through his mind?)
But here's the point. I know he was exceptional. This kind of driving behavior does NOT happen in my neighborhood often. So unlike those who express outrage at the cycling community for the affronts (perceived and actual) committed by a few, I will see this for what it is -- a jerk that happened to be having a bad day.
I will not ascribe to "every other motorist" the same poor behavior choices this driver made. I will not call for a ban on traffic lanes through this stretch since this one driver chose to be a jerk. I will not say things like "no driver has a right to take away my peaceful ride/walk/drive." I'll chalk it up to a guy who needs an anger management class.
And I'll keep my eyes open for this particular silver Mercedes traveling around my normal riding zones.