Sunday, October 02, 2005

Chicken Dance

For some reason, this little incident from Friday afternoon's commute completely escaped me until now. I was riding home through Fort Snelling state park as I always do. I rode through the parking lot for the historic Fort and got to the point where I join with the path that crosses the Highway 55 bridge.

There is a short length of sidewalk that connects the car portion to the bike trail. It's nice and wide and is bordered by about 4 feet of crushed rock on either side. There's a great big sign as you go onto the sidewalk that says "NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES BEYOND THIS POINT" From time to time I do see a truck or car parked on the side of the sidewalk, kind of half on the sidewalk itself and half on the crushed rock. But in every instance it's easy to see that the person who parked their car made every effort to pull off the sidewalk as far as possible to avoid blocking foot and bike traffic. I figure most of these cars belong to nice folks who work at the Fort. No big deal.

On Friday as I turned on to this sidewalk there was a white Ford F-150 driving down the sidewalk headed toward me. I'm not sure of the exact traffic law here, but since it's a sidewalk and there's the big "no motor vehicles" sign posted I felt fairly sure I had the right of way. I was riding Betty, and she's not exactly suited for offroad shenanigans with her 700x28 tires so I slowed down in order to give him time to pull onto the gravel so I could get by. No such luck. The driver of the truck slowed down also, but showed no indication that he was going to pull over at all. A couple feet was all I really needed, he had more than enough space. I slowed down some more, and he responded by coming to a dead stop -- completely blocking the sidewalk.

At this point it was either come to a complete stop myself or hit the gravel. I opted for the gravel. As I rode by I said, "Thanks for pulling over" somewhat sarcastically into his open passenger window. He just stared at me like I had grown a second, evil head and didn't speak a word. Once I had gone past him, he started moving forward again like nothing had happened. It was bizarre.

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