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Dear PoPville – “Racially charged biker/driver incident at 14th and Florida Ave, NW”

Photo by PoPville flickr user [email protected]

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to pass on an unpleasant experience that happened on my bike ride to work this morning at about 8:15. I was biking west on Florida between 13th and 14th Streets NW, right next to Booker T Washington Public Charter School. The light at 14th and Florida turned red, and as there was no room for me to bike between the stopped traffic and parked cars on the right, I waited in line behind the stopped cars on Florida for the light to turn green.

The driver behind me, in a light-gold newish Cadillac, laid on his horn and waved his hands at me from inside the car. I gave a shrug to say “what do you want me to do?” There was no room to pass the stopped traffic on the right, and I wasn’t going to dart out against traffic in the eastbound lane of Florida just to save a few seconds. The driver got out of his car, and we had the following conversation:

Driver: “Get your cracker-ass off the road, I’m trying to get my kids to school!”

Me: “Give me a *ucking break, there’s a red light, where do you want me to go?”

Driver: “On the *ucking sidewalk, you’re lucky my kids are here, or I’d beat your ass.”

The driver was ready to continue this conversation, but at this point, the light had turned green and I was on my way. This exchange left a particularly sour taste in my mouth. Yes, I realize I did not respond in a way to diffuse the situation—that’s just what came out at the moment. I’ve been mulling this over though, trying to figure out what it’s about. Did the 4 feet of space of Florida Ave that me and my bike take up seriously delay this guy from dropping his kids off at school?

Was it really necessary to resort to a nasty racial slur (and in front of his kids)? I try to play nice with cars, and was surprised that in this case, a biker following traffic laws and avoiding unpredictable behavior actually resulted in this confrontation. I’ve biked in DC for about two years, but this is the first time I’ve encountered anything like this. I’d be curious to hear whether other readers have encountered similar instances of verbal assault from drivers, and how they have handled them.”

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