This past Sunday, the Boston Globe ran an article titled, “What cyclists neglect” that, as a cyclist myself, caught my eye. The author takes the stance that cyclists, “want more respect on the road. They need to earn it” (as the tagline reads) — a position which, for the most part, I agree with. There is one thing that he neglects to consider, however:
Everybody hates a bicyclist.
Come on. Admit it. You’ve driven in a city/The City and gotten nervous/pissed because of the tiny two-wheeled asshole hugging the shoulder. And for no good reason. As anyone who commutes on a bike in an urban setting can attest, it’s scary as hell out there; you’re constantly on the defensive. If you’re in a car, well, you’ve got a 2 ton chunk of metal to keep you safe. On a bike? Not so much. You see, no one in a car has ever been killed by a bicycle.
Let’s take the first accident I was ever in (which was, by law, entirely her fault for switching lanes without looking): my pedal got stuck in the body of the car, and I managed to tear off her front bumper when I finally shook myself loose. She then proceeded to (1) roll her window down (2) flip me the bird (3) yell “Fucking asshole!” (4) drive off into the sun, leaving me lying on the ground under my bicycle in the middle of Harvard Square at rush hour. Sure, she had maybe $300 worth of autobody damage, which sucks, I understand. Me? I had to go to the emergency room, get a new bike, and then continue to see a chiropractor three times a week for a year and a half (paid for by me, because she hit and run). Good thing I was wearing a helmet, or I probably wouldn’t have lived to write this rant.
You’re probably about to blurt out something to yourself while you read this alone in your bedroom or at work like “Whatever! This one time, a bicyclist just tore through a red light, and I had to slam on my brakes! I almost got rear ended!” or “This stupid bicycle almost killed me when I was walking down the sidewalk the other day!” in which case my heart goes out to you for enduring such an awful tragedy and I hope that your therapy sessions cost less than my chiropractor. But you are correct; there are some lousy, ignorant, unsafe bicyclists out there. I see ’em. I hate ’em. Especially the ones who bike on the sidewalk down the Mass Ave bridge even though there’s a bike lane RIGHT FUCKING THERE. But just because those guys are jerks, doesn’t mean you have to take it out on me. I have a right to ride my bike, and the law requires me to be on the road, so deal with it. I’m not trying to make your life difficult; I’m trying to survive. It’s tough when you’re constantly on the defensive, constantly risking your life, but if you look out for me, I’ll look out for you. Cool? Cool.
(Similarly, I implore you to stop walking on the Southwest Corridor Bike Path. You have your own parallel sidewalk not 10 feet away! There are so few bike paths as is, so at least let us enjoy the ones we’ve got, and stop getting mad and yelling at me when I nearly crash into your stupid blob of children after yelling “EXCUSE ME!” at you for the last 2 blocks in a futile attempt to avoid this exact problem. Asshole.)