Monday, April 28, 2014

Driving in the Rain

I am still shocked by the inability of people in this city to drive in the rain. Seattle is known for being the rainiest city in the country. (It isn't actually. For most inches of rain in the country try along the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile Alabama seems to have the top prize. For the most days of rain in a year try the rust belt or Portland Oregon. But I digress...) You would think that people who live here would have learned how to drive in it. But that isn't true.

I was reminded of this last Tuesday while doing my usual Postmates shift. I rode my bike by the aftermath of two different car accidents. I saw four different people going the wrong way down a one-way street. Two at the same time. Cars running red lights and stop signs. Plus I saw more people than I could count acting in some way aggressive or stupid.

I think when it rains about 65% of people tend to slow down. I would normally think this isn't a bad idea. Relax, enjoy your drive. The problem is these people also tend to miss things like red lights and stop signs. It is as if they are so worried about not being able to see in the rain, they forget to actually think about what they are doing.

Then another 30% of drivers spend all their time trying to pass someone who is going just a bit too slow. These drivers aren't any better. They aren't thinking about what they are doing, but just on passing that guy. So you get a lot of people who roar past another car only to slam on their brakes for the red light they forgot about. 

Then there is the 5% of drivers who are just crazy. Like the rain starts falling and turns them into some sort of weird car driving maniac. I would like to explain a little story about one of these guys...

I had finished my shift and was heading home. It was late, and the rain was coming down harder than ever. I was traveling south on 5th Ave. under the monorail, in the right lane. A car pulled in behind me and shortly after began to honk. I was a bit confused about this. I get that someone might think that bikes don't have a place on the road. They are wrong, but I get it. But there were two other lanes on that street. Plus I was hitting every green light. The light goes green and I went through. I figured there was no way the guy was  honking at me, so I ignored him. But he kept honking. So I did my usual thing. I turned around, smiled real big and waved. Usually that is enough to get people to shut up. It did, sort of. Instead of honking the driver then pulled into the right turn lane, passed me, and slowed down. That happens sometimes. A driver thinks that you made them wait, so they slow down in front of you. I laughed. It was late. I was tired and wet. If the driver wanted to go slow, fine by me. Then he did something I didn't expect. He took a left turn onto Stewart. In other words, he took a left turn from the far right lane, the wrong way down a one way street. The driver almost hit the two cars going the right way on the street. All three started honking at each other, and I continued on my way.

I did make it home safe. No crashes. No flat tires even. But be safe out there. Watch out for the crazies.


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