Yesterday, Erik and I were taking Max and Zoe on a bike ride. We were going to ride down Butler to Inland Shores to ride around the lake. Max is 5 but he’s been riding his bike since last summer. It was just this week though that he really learned how to stop. On Friday, riding home from his grandma’s house, he turned right onto our street from Butler. He was going downhill and going too fast and you know the cinders they put on the streets when it snows (It snows in Flagstaff. I don’t know if you’ve been here or not in the winter) instead of salt because the salt was killing the Ponderosa pines. I guess the cinders help make the roads less slippery when its icy but for bikes, they make the roads more. As Max went to turn, his wheels slipped on the cinders and he fell down on his face. He has a big scrape on his nose.
I tell you all this as background to what happened as we were riding yesterday. Max was riding the right side of the road but he was trying to avoid cinders, which are all along the ride side. There are no sidewalks in our neighborhood but we were all riding mostly on the right. Cars veered around us. We were making progress. One car driver was particularly sensitive to the kids’ ages. He slowed way down, practically coming to a stop. A woman behind him stopped. Then she honked. Loudly. And then she got out of her car when the man wouldn’t move. She came over to me, red with anger, and started pointing her finger and shaking it at me,
“You have a lot of nerve. This is a ROAD!” She yelled at me.
I said back, “Roads are for everyone,” I said. I probably yelled a little.
Fortunately, Erik was right next to me. He backed me up. “Bikes and pedestrians have the right of way.” He might have yelled a little too.
She yelled back, “I am going to call the police. They’ll tell you that’s not true.”
(Really? The police? Because we were riding our bikes on the road? It’s Flagstaff. Everyone rides their bikes on the road. When there’s no snow). “Go ahead and call them,” Erik said.
Then, the guy who had stopped got out of his car. He started in yelling, “They’re just little kids. Of course they have the right of way. I’m going to call the police on you!”
I really don’t quite get where she was coming from. If she was so impatient, she could have driven around the guy on the left. I’m not exactly sure why she couldn’t just wait for a second for us to get out of the way. I guess some people really only think the world is their own. They don’t want to give space or time to anyone. The roads they drive on, they think they alone paid for them. Or were built for them. The rest of us are just in the way.
My favorite part was when Zoe said, “Hey mom, you know the lady who yelled at us? She didn’t even stop at the Stop sign.”
What I find disheartening is that the woman and the “it’s my road, not yours” is the emblem of the mentality that pervades Arizona politics. What a world we would live in if we were all the man in the car, waiting for the kids to pass, willing to share the road.