Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BMW Drivers Suck

That's right.  BMW drivers suck.  All of you.

I was riding with our normal Tuesday/Thursday group south on White Chapel Boulevard near Bob Jones Park.  Our group is pretty orderly (well, usually), and that day we were riding downright politely.  We had a nice single-file line moving up the road, with the lead rider pulling off to the left in a slow rotation.

If you're not familiar with this area, which many of you probably are not, this section of White Chapel Boulevard is a 30mph two-lane country road with 2-6" of shoulder right of the white line.  It provides access to neighborhoods north of TX114 near the south side of Lake Grapevine.  Since these neighborhoods do provide access back to the south, it's not technically dead-end, but the road is only useful as access to those neighborhoods.

It has a huge park with ballfields and soccer fields (football, for the rest of the world), playground, a dog park, and miles of lakeside hiking trails.  It has two schools along it, horse farms, and lots of open space.

In other words, a perfect road for bicyclists.  Out of the way, quiet, pretty, and lined with facilities that encourage outdoor sports and activities.

So we're riding this road, as we do every Tuesday and Thursday.  There's a mean little hill that rises out of a creek bottom perhaps a quarter mile from the elementary school.  There's always south wind in Texas, and this is a southbound section of road.  It's not a big climb (this is Texas), but it's punishing and we tend to ramp up the effort to make up for the lack of pitch or length.

I'm leading the single-file pack up this hill.  I've hit my limit for suffering, so I wheel off to the left, letting the next rider continue the push as I slide backwards relative to the line to find an open spot.

We're probably only doing 20mph or so.  We may be quick, but we're not world class.

I get about 3 wheels back when a BMW 760LI blows by me, engine roaring as the driver accelerates hard.

When I say he blow by me - and I assume it was a "he", it's a typically male car, being driving in an escalated-testosterone-level way - I mean he passes me with inches to spare.

And when I said inches, I mean precious few inches.

I have the image of the passenger mirror missing my handlebars by such a small margin that I had cognitive dissonance - I was still upright, but my conscious was curiously thinking I was flying through the air.  The blast of air of the 50mph car (in the aforementioned 30mph zone) probably augmented the reality.

As I say: BMW drivers suck.  All of them.

Sadly (and, perhaps, funny at the same time), many of my cycling friends are nodding their heads in agreement.  There's no doubt that the, shall we say, "more financially endowed classes" are more likely to treat vulnerable road users (like cyclists) like scum.

(Transparency: My wife and I just bought a Mercedes-Benz.  A *used* MB.  6 years old, because we can't afford a new one.  And we hope it doesn't break down because we can barely afford to fix this one.)

But that's an aside; not just a statement about BMWs, but a statement about many premium brand owners.  I'm talking about BMW owners.  They suck.


Of course not.  There's clearly at least one BMW driver that sucks.  One BMW driver that has no respect for other's life or well-being.  One BMW driver defines all BMW drivers.

Unfortunately, like most people, cyclists tend to unfairly lump people into groups.  I've done it at least twice in this post, and I'm about to let loose with a little bit of our little "club's" prejudices.

Our perspective is different from most, which makes for interesting conversation.

I've had fewer little problems with people who are in the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.  For whatever reason, those drivers tend to make room and be in less of a rush.  This seems to cut across almost every race and creed.

There are a lot of Mexicans and Central Americans in Texas, and from a cycling perspective I'm glad.  There's no doubt that some look at me funny, but they are absolutely respectful on the roads.  When I see them working as landscaping / lawn crews, they go so far as pause work and slow their weed-whackers, leaf blowers, and lawn mowers so I don't get a blast of clippings as I pass.  (That happened again last night - some people are awesome.)

Don't worry.  The local Caucasians make up for it - except for country folk.

I have few problems when riding around the country.  If anything, country folk are the people I enjoy riding around the most, aside from their absolute passivity when driving.  I've had farmers and ranchers sit 100' off my wheel for minutes waiting for a passing opportunity delivered on a golden platter accompanied by light from the heavens and angels singing.

That does not apply to certain groups of rednecks, however, who seem to relish the opportunity to throw objects, buzz, or belch fume-laden diesel smoke on anyone that triggers their feelings of inadequacy.

Rock haulers are downright scary.  I think drivers would agree with me.  Frac trucks aren't much better.

I have never once had a negative encounter with anyone remotely resembling a Muslim.  Never.  Every single case has been respectful.

But with that in mind, there are places where I feel more in control of my survival during rush hour than I do on Sunday mornings before church.  Between the relatively poor driving of older folk (which I'm rapidly becoming) and some "God will be PISSED if I don't run down this cyclist who could make me late to church!" mentality, certain roads can be downright dangerous.

That's right.  Practicing Christians are part of the problem.

And that brings it back full circle to our BMW driver.  BMW drivers suck.

I know it's not fair, and perhaps that's precisely the point.  If you don't like how you, or your "group", are perceived, change it.  If you don't like how you're lumped into a "group", don't do it yourself.

And, please, don't drive like an asshole.  Thanks.

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