The San Francisco Peninsula is a great place to live and train; the cycling in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coast is hard to beat (especially if you like climbing). But the one fly in the ointment in training paradise has been the few drivers and motorcyclists who make cycling not just unpleasant, but downright dangerous — and sometimes fatal.
Today was a running day, and as I was heading home from Woodside Elementary School (where we park to go running in Huddart Park), a Mini Cooper turned onto Woodside Rd. from Mountain Home Rd. without stopping and proceeded to tailgate the SUV directly in front of him. The SUV had another car in front of him and was going the speed limit. Nothing really out of the ordinary, though, until the Mini driver started “slaloming” in the line, alternately cross the centerline and going into the bike lane. He almost took out a cyclist.
Then he continued weaving, even trying to pass the two cars ahead by going right into the bike lane. Luckily there were no cyclists there at that moment, but he got stopped at the light at I-280, where Woodside Rd. splits from one lane in each direction to two. I ended up right behind him and snapped his photo:
He wasn’t pleased — he got out of his car (as did his passenger) and started threatening me. Luckily, I had witnesses all around, so he thought better of escalating things any further. I would have been happy to discuss things with a county cop present.
The point of this is not to single out this one guy (though he’s definitely one of the most aggressive drivers I’ve ever encountered, especially in a town like Woodside, which is usually crawling with cops on weekends); the larger question is how to use the power of social media to rally cyclists around identifying these dangerous drivers and doing something about them. They are literally life threatening.
I’m reminded of a great early website from the mid 90s: The Highway 17 Page of Shame. It was entertaining reading back then, and all of us have experiences like this at one point or another. But with all of the technology available today — camera phones and small video cameras with amazing resolution, plus the social networks to distribute the content to a wide audience — maybe it’s time to put that to use to ferret out not simply those drivers that annoy us but rather those who recklessly put our lives at risk.