Saturday, December 05, 2009

Threatened by Driver of a Black Truck in Portola Valley

Today, I was out for my first ride since Ironman Arizona, and was enjoying a leisurely ride on the Peninsula. Heading back towards Woodside on Portola Road through Portola Valley, I rounded the corner and was heading down that smooth, gradual descent that just makes me happy to ride. There is a wide bike lane and although people often drive fast, traffic is usually light, and was today. I was approaching the intersection with Westridge when an older, dull green BMW, followed closely by a large, black pickup truck both passed me. The BMW's right-turn blinker was flashing. I also noticed some items in the bed of the black truck as it passed. There wasn't really time for the BMW driver to turn right but he proceeded anyway, and both the truck driver and I slowed a little as he turned. No big deal. The truck wasn't making any indication that he would be turning right, and I continued along downhill. It was impossible to believe he hadn't seen me, and we were already too close to the intersection for him to turn. When we were already both passing through the intersection, he screeched forward as he accelerated hard and then turned right, wheels squealing, onto the left side of Westridge, cutting in front of me. He continued to speed away quickly as I yelled some choice words; I noticed that the driver side window was up and figured he probably didn't hear me anyway. It was really close.

Momentarily I was just mad but then quickly became completely emotional and could hardly even ride--my legs were shaking on the pedals and I lost the spirit to go on. I saw a similar-looking black truck pass me again on Portola and wondered if it was the same one; it seemed entirely possible that the truck driver had not turned for any reason other than to threaten me. I pretty much coasted all the way to the turn-off to Woodside. I think it was just enough stress to open up some buried fears and emotions. I didn't have any flashbacks, but on a deep, maybe even subconscious, level I felt like I had come very close to serious injury, at least; furthermore, there was no doubt in my mind that this was a deliberate act on his part. Why would someone do that? Practical concerns kicked in because with the 15 minutes of easy riding I started to get really cold, and needed to pedal again. The emotional response eventually subsided and then I was just mad. I decided I would call the cops and report the guy. There was probably nothing that would come of it; but I figured this was probably not the first or last time this guy would do something like this. Anyway, it was all I could do. I stopped and made the quick phone call, and the police said they would send someone to check it out. They took it seriously, and noted all the details. I'm pretty sure that by that time, though, the truck was long gone. Mostly I just wanted to make a report so that it was on their record.

I don't know if this guy was mad at cyclists for some reason, but I was just riding along, alone, to the side of the road. I try to be courteous to drivers, especially near places like Woodside that see a lot of bike traffic on a regular basis. It doesn't really matter, though; this driver was using his truck as a way to physically threaten, and potentially harm me. I hope he takes a look at the news coming from So Cal and thinks a little more before trying this stunt again. I sort of doubt it would make a difference to him though.

Be careful out there.


Shane and Becca said...

Scary, Anne. Glad you are ok.

Jill said...

Scary stuff! I had a van pass really close on 84 today. Made me angry. Grrr. Glad you're OK!

Scott said...

Wow ... that's really awful. I used to live in Mountain View, Foster City and San Francisco (back in the 1990's) and people were more courteous (at least that's how I remembered it) back then. At least you're OK.

Michael said...

That is awful. Had a similar experience as a missionary... watched a guy very deliberately try the same stunt and actually clip my companion's back tire. Threw him to the ground and ruined the wheel, obviously. It was sheer luck (providence?) that he was not injured. Very glad that you're okay!

Mike Fraser said...

Glad there was no injury Anne. It could have been worse and thank God it wasn't. I will say that there is FAR too much of this kind of crap happening nationwide right now. It's a hot topic on our local forum and even the W.H.O. has been researching and writing about it. It's a big deal...especially to the cyclist.