I’m a bit hesitant to write about this incident, because
every time I write about a close call I have on the road my mother gives me a
talking to. She worries about my safety
out there. But this story is just too bizarre
to pass up.
It happened on my commute last week. It was a beautiful summer morning in Salt Lake City. I had a slight wind at my back and was
cruising along at an effortless 24 mph. About two miles into my commute a guy on a riding lawn mower turned into
my lane about 200 yards in front of me. I
know what you’re thinking. It’s a little
odd to see a riding lawn mower on a city street, but there are two things to
keep in mind; it was about 6:45 in the morning, and Salt Lake City is still in
Utah, where we’re not about to give up our rural roots without a fight.
Apparently the max cruising speed of a riding lawnmower is
less than 20 mpg, if I had to guess, I’d say he was going about 18 mph. Remember I was doing about 24 with a tailwind,
so I caught up quickly and needed to pass. There wasn’t a bike lane so I executed
a textbook pass: I checked my blind spot,
signaled my intentions and moved into the left lane. I accelerated smoothly and passed the riding
lawnmower with ease, then checked my blind spot again, signaled right and moved
into his lane in front of him. My drivers’
ed. teacher would have been very proud—had I been in a car and not on my bike.
This is where the fun began. We came to a stoplight so I stopped at the line and he stopped right
behind me. When the light turned green I
learned something new about riding lawnmowers—they can accelerate to 18 mph
much quicker than a cyclist can. I heard
the mower accelerate and then slow down abruptly because I was in his way. He would try to come around me on the left
but I would finally get back to cruising speed and pull away from him—until we
came to the next stoplight. I wasn’t
trying to race him; I just was faster than he was.
This same thing happed at the next four stoplights. At one point the guy actually moved into the
left lane to pass me, but I caught up
to him before the next light, and that was the last straw. When the light turned green this time and he
had to slow down after accelerating too quickly again he started screaming
invectives at me. He told me to get the
%*&! out of the way, and other choice insults.
Being the squeaky clean Utah native that I am, I politely informed him
that I had every right to the lane that he had. I might also have mentioned that I probably had more right to the lane
than he had because, well, he was on a
Now I’m not making this next part up. This guy got so mad that he tried to run me over—with
his lawnmower. He steered right into
me tried to run me off the road. But
this time I accelerated fast enough to get out of his reach. (Thank you adrenaline) Then he made a crucial mistake. He turned into a Salt Lake City public works facility. The fool is a city employee! What kind of idiot tries to use city-owned
equipment as a weapon and then immediately reveals his place of
Trust me; a few phone calls have been made.