Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Road Rage on the Lovely North Side

One forum where annoyed drivers, pedestrians and bikers can kvetch with impunity is Platewire ( I registered with them a couple years ago so I could vent about the behemoth in the SUV who road-raged me on Berteau Street when I dared bike the right way down a one-way street rather than taking a wider (but wrong-way) side street, or sissying along the sidewalk. That’s all ancient history and that huge blob with the purple face and the big pulsating vein in his neck is probably all dead and buried by now. There was another incident this morning so I crashed their site again and hastily put it on. They warned us posters that we had only 20 minutes to come up with our masterpieces, otherwise we’d have to log in again.

Not wanting to have to remember my password (“Is it ‘swordfish’?”) a second time, I decided to cover my bases by posting an additional and twice as sizzling rant right here.

It was 7:44 a.m. and I had just crossed Keeler Avenue northbound at Irving Park Road. It’s not a nice intersection. This is where the Kennedy Expressway feeder ramp is, and if you don’t mind your P’s and Q’s you could end up an ex-human. Getting across Irving and past the diagonal lane that feeds into Keeler just north of Irving is cause to make sure you’re wearing a helmet and your will is up to date.

So here I am, carefully making my way down a short but nasty stretch of Keeler, and there, right in the diagonal, blocking my access to safely cross the street was Mister X61 9421. Normally I would not post the license plate of an offender, but he was committing – in my opinion – the Number One Sin of the road. He. Was. On. A. Hand. Held. Cell. Phone. While driving. At a dangerous intersection. He was so engrossed in his call he didn’t notice that there were about three feet of space behind him into which he could have safely backed up, thus allowing me more than the sliver of bumpy road, broken glass and pigeon droppings in which to maneuver my bike between him and the passing cars on Keeler.

I got off my bike and slowly walked it right in front of him. I don’t think he noticed me giving him a pointed look, then giving his license plate a pointed look. Then back to him, then again peering at his license plate and writing in a notebook with a very serious expression on my face.

So, Mister X61 9421, what was so gosh-darned important? What were you blabbing about on that phone of yours before 8 a.m.? Lindsay Lohan’s latest romance? Joan vs. Bette? Boxers or briefs? Were you using that phone as an emotional outlet when you should have been paying attention to the road? I’ll tell you what, Mister X61 9421, Joan vs. Bette or that can’t-wait business deal just doesn’t seem so important when some kid’s body is flying up against your windshield.

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