Monday, July 23, 2007

Cops, Dogs, and Right Hooks

There are very few stop lights that I just cannot trigger with my bike. One of them is going north on Nieman at 75th street. If Karen or Chris are there, our combined hall effect profile is significant enough to change the light. On my own? I can't ever seem to get it to change. I try every single trick I know, and I can see the under-pavement faraday loop. I can almost always trigger these. Today, again, I failed.

What I usually do is wait for oncoming traffic to trigger it from the southbound side. If no one is in the left turn lane, my light goes green. At about 6:05-6:10 in the morning, there is often enough traffic going south to get on Shawnee Mission Parkway or I-35 to trigger my light. If someone chooses the left turn lane, however, I will sit there at a red light for the rest of my days. If this happens, I begin entering the intersection, and then once all the cars have cleared their left turns, I run my red light while cross traffic still has a red. I did it again today, as usual. Then, I noticed a Shawnee police officer turn onto Nieman. He got in the left lane but didn't pass me. I was going about 30 in a 35 on a downhill and thought little of it. Then, as I climbed the next hill, I started to slip. 25 MPH. 20 MPH. 17 MPH. I stabilized at 17 or so, but the officer still wasn't passing. It was then that I knew I was probably busted for running the light. Why he insisted on following me for almost a mile and a half in the other lane at speeds varying from 10-30 MPH, I'll never know. He never once turned his lights on, got behind me, honked his horn or blipped his siren.

I eventually got tired of seeing him incessantly in my Take-A-Look. I looked right at him. He rolled down the window and said "Hey! You have to stop back there like everyone else!" I started pedalling again, and said "I Was stopped for over a minute! I can't trigger that light! Every morning, I have to wait for someone to trigger the light for me, or I'll go through after the oncoming left turns clear." He told me it's a dangerous intersection, then darted off. Traffic was coming up behind us. I guess he thought I just blasted through the red, but I was stopped. I can't hop off the bike and go to the crosswalk for every single light-controlled intersection. Is it time for me to build a MIRT?! I keek, I keed!

So, with the local yokels out of the way, I am moseying northeast on Merriam Ln when I spot a pack of 3 dogs up ahead. I don't recognize these three, but usually a pack of dogs is a harmless thing. One of them wanders out into the street, causing an oncoming pickup to come to a complete stop. The other two are sitting in the ditch on my side of the road. Tongues out, having a good old time watching their buddy attempt to do the age-old magic trick of changing himself from a dog into a pile of warm, chunky salsa with fur. This is all unfolding a quarter-to-half mile ahead of me.

The pickup goes around, and I'm coming up on the pack of dogs. The other two start crossing the street. I get within about 200 yards of them, and the same dog that had earlier tried to leave this cruel world locks onto me. I'm a pretty good judge of animal character. When a dog sees you and starts running with you and barking, you're his temporary playmate. When the dog stops in his tracks, puts his ears up and forward, then charges at you while snorting, showing teeth and roaring (rather than barking), that's usually a bad sign. Not always, but usually. When his two buddies decide to follow suit? It's time to really hammer it. So yeah, I won't need any coffee today after that little adrenaline rush. A few miles up the road, going into Rosedale, I saw one of the dogs that's in the friendly pack I usually encounter. I made kissy noises at him and he jogged on the sidewalk next to me for a little bit, then got too far from home and turned around.

On Southwest Blvd as I approached Rainbow, I had this guy in a big old Frito-Lay delivery truck (think UPS or bakery truck, not semi tractor) behind me. He had his right signal on, so I hammered on it again to try to clear the intersection before the light turned red for both of us. I got up pretty fast, but then noticed that he was moving to pass me. There's no way in hell he was going to get around me and make his intersection. I was going almost 25. The turn signal came back on though, in my rear view mirror. Then he was next to me. Grr. I got his truck number and already reported him. Have I mentioned that I love my mirror? Now that I know what behavior patterns go with right-hooking drivers, I am practically immune to them as long as I pay attention to my surroundings.

So, there you have it. I didn't get coffee this morning. Yet. I might go out a bit later once my heart rate drops from this morning's events.


MRMacrum said...

Well, I finished your homework assignment. I did the 5 things gig. It was painful.

Your dog sense is good. When they don't bark, hammer down. Yesterday I just missed a brain dead Spaniel that was coming out to say hey. At 35mph or so, I am so grateful there was no one coming the other way. I almost ended up in the ditch missing him.

Frogman said...

I think Bill from i-hacked needs to show up to a 2600 meet sometime. Then we'd have endless fun trying to figure out which Bill anyone is referring to.

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