PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

April 27th, 2006

A Penny Saved…

My desire to bike to work has virtually nothing to do with saving money, or saving the planet. While those are laudable goals, they are not mine. I’m mostly interested in not dying prematurely. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes this rationale for bicycling seems terribly ironic (see “Dear Idiot” below).

However, as the price of gasoline begins creeping skyward again, keeping the petroleum industry’s profits nice and fat for another year, I began to wonder if my commuting by bicycle would have any practical impact.

The last time I gassed up the Corolla, I spent $29.51 for 10.5 gallons of gas. I generally go about 280 miles between fill-ups. Let’s call that 10.5 cents per mile. My commute is a little less than ten miles, each way. Let’s call it 19 miles round trip. That works out to about $2.00 a day in gas I save when I ride my bike.

Wow, that’s … more than I expected. Mind you, I don’t think of it as ’saving’ money, more like deferring payment. I will still drive to work, and I will still have to fill up my car, but every day I ride my bike pushes that trip to the gas station off by two bucks.


April 27th, 2006

Dear Idiot

Dear Idiot,

I’m the cyclist you cut off this morning when you made your right turn from Barbur onto Hamilton. I’m sure you remember me. I was on a blue recumbent bicycle, in the bike lane, and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting your piece-of-shit blue car.

I’m just curious: What were you thinking? Were you in such a hurry to get to work that you couldn’t slow down for the three seconds it would take me to clear the intersection? It would be a tiny bit comforting to think that you didn’t see me, but when you accelerated into the turn in order to get in front of me, it became pretty obvious that you knew I was there.

I realize that I can appear more svelte on my recumbent than I really am, but let me assure you that I’m a pretty solid guy. Combined with my heavy steel ‘bent, we represented a considerable mass moving at a pretty good velocity. I assure you, if not for my hyperactive awareness of traffic, catlike reflexes, and the fact that I had recently adjusted my brakes, I would have hit your piece-of-shit blue car.

I wonder how you would have explained the sizable PAgent-shaped dent in your passenger-side door to the police. Or your parents. Or your parole officer. I mean, when a cyclist riding in a bike lane manages to T-bone a crappy car like yours, it doesn’t take CSI:Portland to put together the sequence of events. Of course, it may strain credulity to believe that you actually accelerated in order to cut me off, but I suppose such behavior isn’t unthinkable when dealing with a driver who has the IQ of an anesthetized mollusk.

I’d like to believe this was a simple miscalculation. That you realize what a close call you had, and that in the future, you will give bicyclists a wide safety margin, instead of playing chicken with them. Unfortunately, I suspect you and your piece-of-shit car will continue to careen around the Portland Metro area until you manage to either total it, or lose your license.

I just hope nobody gets hurt in the process.