I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
March 19, 2010
This column originally stirred up readers in the Nashville Scene.
I’m driving down West End silently cursing the man ahead of me, who’s going barely five miles per hour. Cars zoom by on my left, but traffic’s too heavy for me to switch lanes. “Oh, come on!” I say finally, tapping the heel of my hand against the steering wheel in frustration. “You have got to be kidding me!””What is it, Mommy?” my 5-year-old daughter pipes up from the backseat.
“It’s him,” I say, glaring at the turtle-like cyclist ahead of me who’s so intent on slowing my commute. “I can’t get around this guy and he won’t speed up. Where does he think he is, Warner Park?”
I’m all for sharing the road with cyclists. The problem is, many of them don’t seem to want to share with me. Instead, they act like they own the road, riding side-by-side-by-side on Highway 100 while a dozen cars trail behind them, or making me squeal as they swerve through traffic for an unsignaled turn, or speeding silently through my hilly neighborhood while I pray silently that no unsuspecting child in the street gets flattened.
If I dare voice a complaint, though, I’ll get accused of being insensitive and environmentally unfriendly. So instead I remain (mostly) silent, riding my brakes down West End while the guy ahead of me cycles slowly along without a care in the world.
Not all motorists, however, are so nice.
“There are those who think they have to make a statement about us not being allowed to be on the road,” says the husband of one of my friends, a man we’ll call Milo. I called him because he pretty much lives on his bike and I figured he’d have good perspective from the frontlines of the cyclist v. motorist faceoff. As it turned out, I was right — Milo has plenty of stories about the cruelties he’s endured at the hands of angry and impatient Nashville drivers.
Many of them, he says, are under the impression that he should be riding on the sidewalk (that’s actually illegal). And they’ll go to extraordinary lengths to make their point, from cutting him off in traffic to literally running him off the road.
“I’ve had people throw stuff at me,” he says, “and then I’ve caught up with them at a red light and watched them shit their pants.” Milo has never turned the other cheek when dealing with aggressive drivers; he likes to surprise them by riding right up to them and giving them piece of his mind. Now that he’s a dad and his preschool-aged daughter is often riding in a trailer attached to his bike, the stakes have been raised even higher.
Of course, you’d think drivers would stay far, far away from a cyclist with a baby on board — and the truth is, most of them do. But there are those who don’t really give a damn about the trailer, and that fact seems to be turning Milo into a sort of Howard Beale on a bike. The dude’s mad as hell, and he’s not gonna take it anymore.
“I’ve been known to look back at someone and say, ‘I will fucking kill you. I dare you to get any closer,’ ” he says of drivers who’ve nosed up too close to the trailer at a red light. ‘I will fucking kill you right here!’ ”
“Oh!” I say quietly. “Well! That sort of gives new meaning to the term ‘road rage,’ doesn’t it?”
Milo goes on to tell me about a businessman in a BMW who cut him off in traffic and nearly caused him to wreck while his daughter was in the trailer. Milo caught up with the guy at the next red light. “He looked in his rearview mirror and I just hocked a loogie on his rear window,” he said. At the next red light, Milo did the same thing again. And he says if the guy had tried to retaliate, he would have gone even further.
“By the time I get you on the ground, your Brooks Brothers suit is screwed,” Milo said darkly, apparently reliving the moment since I personally don’t own a Brooks Brothers suit. Still, I shuddered involuntarily. Thank God I had merely cursed at cyclists under my breath. Otherwise, I might be pushing up daisies right now.
“The good news is, things are getting better!” Milo said brightly. “Nashville has improved dramatically in the last 10 years as far as its accommodation of cyclists.”
Well, really, what choice do we have? Talking with Milo has convinced me that these cyclists are a dangerous lot. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of them. If nothing else, I can’t really think of anything more embarrassing than having the shit kicked out of you by a guy in spandex.