March 7, 2010

honey and vinegar

I had an encounter with a cyclist yesterday.

I like cyclists.  I have a lot of cyclist friends.  I admire them.  Most of them cycle from either a commitment to fitness and health, or a commitment to the environment, or both.  They cycle through wind and rain and snow and hail and darkness and their consistency and persistence has me see in them a strength I wish for always in myself.

I give cyclists room on the road.  Usually a wide berth, as much as I am able while being safe for them and without overly impeding the flow of traffic.  I think maintaining the flow to the extent possible is the safest option for both the bicycles and the cars on the road.  We can co-exist, in peace.  It can all work, and well.

The cyclist yesterday was an angry one, and he wasn't the first angry cyclist I have met, and each encounter has taken something out of me.  I have even had another cyclist curse at me as I was cycling myself.  I wasn't doing anything wrong.  I just didn't speed up or slow down enough for him and he directed his own brand of road rage at me.

Most of my encounters have been with me in my car and them on their bike.  I don't crowd cyclists but I do get frustrated when their behaviour precludes the flow of traffic, such as when they ride in the middle of a lane, so you can't actually swing around them and keep the flow, but instead have to wait for an opportunity and move entirely into the other lane.   And in reality if they are travelling well below the speed limit on a major road, they are actually significantly impeding the traffic.  Which I think is dangerous.  Anytime drivers get frustrated they tend to take more chances.

The cyclist yesterday was screaming and swearing at the top of his lungs, on a residential street.  He didn't like the berth we gave him.  If he had been in a car, I would have taken his plate number.  He was definitely a candidate for anger management courses.

I think about the number of cyclists and the number of cars and the need for us all to be cooperative with one another to make it work.  I think that no one deserves to think themselves as above another person based on what they do or don't do.  I am not less than that cyclist because I drive a car and he cycles.  Being on a bicycle doesn't make road rage any more ok than being in a car.  And if he wants people in cars to continue to share the road in a spirit of goodwill, he could consider changing his attitude.

Our grandmothers said 'you get more flies with honey than with vinegar' for a good reason.