Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Last Heat

A strange madness comes over the motoring public this time of year. They seem as angry as late-season yellowjackets, whose days are numbered as pickings grow slim.

It seemed early and worse this year. In the week after Nathan Williams' death, half the motorists seemed unusually solicitous, waiting to pass and passing wide. But the other half acted like sharks who smell blood in the water. They passed close and fast, as if anticipating the taste of my flesh when the frenzy finally starts.

I couldn't believe how much aggressive motorist behavior I saw during that week. It really was as if the motorists who hate cyclists consider killing one to be just a good start. I even got the double down-your-throat pass, as a Cadillac Escalade and a pickup truck barrelled out from behind another SUV to blast past me a few inches off my elbow as they hammered by in the opposite direction. I wished my middle finger was the size of a baseball bat. I wished my middle finger could shoot a death ray.

I always attributed the jump in aggression and the little flurry of broken glass to the end of summer and the resumption of people's humdrum, busy lives. But around here we also deal with heavy tourist traffic all summer. When that leaves, the locals see clear running room.

It's already started to calm down again. A potentially worse problem replaces it as people slow down mentally with the shortening days. Careless driving replaces reckless driving. They need some fresh air and exercise.

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