Passive-Aggressive Cyclist Story #1

Today was an interesting day for biking in several ways, I was terrified this morning when I was pinched by a car parked WAYYYY too far out of it’s lane, opposite a giant school-bus that was slowly overtaking me. Then later in the afternoon, a car sped by me so fast and so crazily close (while I was comfortably riding along the curb a good distance) that he broke his passenger side mirror by CLIPPING MY HANDLEBAR.

However, nothing made me think longer than my final ride home.

I was coming back from Dundas Square and had gone a few blocks when I realized in my Woody Allen-daze and cheerful state, I had forgotten to put my lights on. So, pulling up to the sidewalk, I affixed them and made my way back to the road. This was my first “mistake.” A girl was coming towards me in the lane, but I couldn’t see her as it was 11pm, on a non-entirely-bright street, and she had no headlight, so she spooked me and I spooked her as I came in behind her. But we rode smoothly so I figured that was that.

Not quite so.

She turned out to be one of THOSE cyclists. You know what I mean. The cyclist with a bad day, with a temper or a passive-aggressive streak of words coming out of their mouths. She was dinging cars that were yielding to signs, and getting furious for pedestrians who were, despite jaywalking, several yards away from her anyway, continuing to insist they better “Watch where they are going or they are going to get run over” an entire intersection away from where this person was crossing. Basically it seemed she was looking for a way to bell somebody or yell at them, for any perceived infraction.

I figured it would be best not to pass this girl.

All was well until we hit an intersection with a long light, and a car turning right in the right hand lane. Naturally as you try to pass to the left of a car that’s turning right, I aligned myself to do just that. She however, took a strange diagonal/horizontal stretch behind this car, perhaps she didn’t realize it was a right-turning vehicle and didn’t want to back up? I still don’t quite know even NOW. But I had no idea what she was doing, my visual cues were this.

1. She was mad at everything.
2. As she was without a headlight and didn’t seem the type to signal, I assumed she was trying to re-align her bike to kitty-cross the intersection at a strange angle.

It didn’t help that when the light turned, and the car got ready to go right, she just stood there. I had given her space to either kitty cross, or get ahead of me and go around the vehicle. After some pause where I wasn’t sure what she was doing, I decided to go around her and ahead, as I did so, she scoffed, “NICE MANNERS!” to which I was really confused! I put to pedaling as fast as I could, just to get a good deal ahead of this girl, and to figure out why I was so upset with her actions.

Then it came to me, communication. She was quite fond of telling people what she was upset at and what they were doing wrong, but failing to alert people to what SHE was doing, which gives people clues to react to. And oddly enough, this is what I feel I have been lacking lately. I felt guilty, that I had been her on my bike before, when I realized that it wasn’t true. I felt more like her in my day to day interactions, which would explain why I act just like her. The contrast is, that I signal, I alert people to my presence, I’m aware of other cyclists and motorists, and despite all my positive action, I still yell at cars. The street is a great place to get frustration out because the conflict only lasts a minute, then you can drive or speed away before any reaction could even be expressed.

I still can’t decide if I should have apologized to this girl for mistaking her pause for allowing me through, and adding to her particularly ‘difficult’ day, but I am slightly relieved to know, that unfortunately, my apology wouldn’t have mattered to her.

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