Sometimes cyclists like to tell us that other road users are the most hazardous things on the roads. But sometimes, like today, I can give two shining examples where the opposite is true.
Although it’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen cyclists riding two abreast on a narrow shoulder on the motorway, forcing motorists to slow down dangerously, or riding on the line marking the shoulder rather than in the shoulder, today I encountered two rather special cyclists.
On my way to get my lunch today, the first was a gentleman who looked for all intents and purposes homeless or destitute. I was crossing the road, and seeing that our paths might collide if he followed his present trajectory and velocity, he decided to shout out to me, “HURRY UP YOU FAT CUNT. I HAVEN’T GOT ALL DAY. I GOT THINGS TO DO.” I wasn’t dawdling. I was crossing the road at a good road-crossing pace, and I happen to be fat. These two factors appear to have combined in his mind into something that offended him greatly.
I thought to myself, “sir, you’re just being a jolly big scunthorpe.” And a small part of me–the irrational sociopathic part that I do manage to keep in check most days–wanted to push him off his bike, smash him in the face with it, and then slowly remove each and every spoke from his wheels and insert them into random orifices of his body. Heck, while I’m being so artistic, I’d probably invent a few new orifices specially for him, or turn him into a sculpture of Pinhead, my favourite Cenobite.
But no, instead, I slowed down and walked backwards, back into the middle of the road, forcing him to slow down and curse me and my winter cake storage unit some more.
That’s fine, he probably had a bad day, or perhaps hadn’t had his coffee yet, or maybe his wife divorced him, or his dog got cancer. I won’t judge him without knowing him.
Perhaps life was being particularly horrid to cyclists today because on the way back to work, not 10 minutes later, another cyclist at the very same crossing–and one who looked decidedly more businessy than the last fellow–also decided that slowing down for pedestrians wasn’t to be a part of his destiny. He sped past me, and almost smashed into a 300 year old lady on a mobility scooter who naturally, was taking her time. It takes the oldies a while longer to scan the horizon for hazards, and it takes them longer to pick up speed and be on their way.
Just a little bit of patience surely wouldn’t go amiss. Even if you’re on your way to an emergency, slowing down for that 4.5 seconds will save you a lifetime of walking funny when the person you do cross isn’t as socially amicable as I am.