Waste not, want more

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Traffic, Aggression, Cycling and Haters

Drivers complain about drivers, pedestrians complain about drivers, drivers complain about cyclists and cyclists complain about drivers – I could go on. Complainers are always perfect and so are the recipients of the complaints.

At the risk of sounding typical, and ludicrous, can’t we all just get along? I too find myself frustrated, particularly when I’m on my bike and completely cut off by a car, my life feels a little more at risk than I’d prefer. But this post is not meant to be a complaint. It’s more of an appeal, an attempt to understand the hate. And one hater in particular.

As a driver and a cyclist, I can understand frustrations experienced by both. When driving, it often bothers me when cyclists behave as though the road is theirs, particularly darting through traffic. I’m not bothered by their self-importance so much as the sense that I’m not sure what they’re going to do. Unpredictability and erratic cycling causes accidents just like pedestrians wandering on and off the road or aggressive weaving drivers. But there’s no need to get our hate on.

Because I’m overly sensitive to drivers’ cyclist hate, I try to avoid thumbing my nose at drivers (riding through red lights, pedestrian crossings, and so forth). However, sometimes I’m a jerk: I’m running really late, I feel like it’s safer to ride through an area, it’s windy and my balance doesn’t feel awesome or I’m not paying as much attention as I should be. I admit all of that. Many cyclists are less respectful than me, many are more. Occasionally, drivers will honk, tailgate or drive around me aggressively but it’s rare. Some drivers and pedestrians seem impatient if I don’t “break the rules” and go ahead of them or avoid a complete stop (just another lesson in never making everybody happy). Sometimes a pedestrian will call out to me. What I’ve realized most recently is that it’s almost always the same guy AND he loves the f-bomb AND he lives in my neighbourhood.

Incidents:

  • Me: rolling stop through a clear 4-way stop. Him: “It’s a f*&^ing stop sign.”
  • Me: riding through a red light at 8am, no traffic. Him: Monster spit 2 feet in front of me on sidewalk. “You f*&^ing colour blind son of a b*(&”
  • Me: riding bike from building across street to bus stop (20 feet) with helmet in hand, dismounting on sidewalk. Him: Spit. “So we have another f%^&ing Gordon Campbell“. Me: “I don’t know what  that’s supposed to mean.” (Seriously, I don’t. Is it a reference to our [former] premier’s drunk driving charge?) Then we both wait at the bus stop. When the bus arrives he gobs again before getting on and I load my bike in fear of the man three times my size with such a penchant for anger and saliva.

Gordon Campbell ziplining an Olympics promo. This picture makes me laugh everytime. Courtesy gov.bc.ca

I have had other run-ins, or ride-bys, with this guy but apparently on those occasions I wasn’t giving him anything he could pick on so he remained dry and silent but cranky-looking. I know he smiles and laughs with others, I’ve seen evidence. The only acceptable reason I can come up with for his behaviour toward me is that he lost a child to cyclist irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been the come-back kid. I only noticed a few months ago that it’s always the same guy. My first ever response was yesterday, to tell him I didn’t know what the Gordon Campbell reference meant. I’m slow and emotional in these situations (read avoid confrontation at all costs) and don’t think there’s anything I can say that will illicit a response I’m interested in.

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June 16, 2010 - Posted by | Community, Cycling, Irritated, Wild Animals | , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. He’s an arrogant A-Hole who needs to belittle is all. I know you, don’t blame yourself for all of it, because I doubt you were in that much of the wrong.

    Be safe.

    Comment by Katie Chipman | June 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. I agree. No need for snappy retorts (mostly because I have none to suggest- curses!)

    Some people have nothing better to do than judge others in an effort to mask their own insecurities and self-hatred. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. I say keep being a mostly-responsible cyclist and driver and secretly bless the guy’s angry heart whenever you have to interact with him. Nothing like killing people with kindness! 🙂

    Comment by Dana | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. This fits perfectly with my themes of being different and getting along and all sorts of things like that. What a jerk.

    Comment by Lisa Wields Words | November 17, 2011 | Reply

    • You mean because the man gives an example of how to get along with others, right?

      Comment by Rose | November 17, 2011 | Reply


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