My biggest love in the world is for wine. Somewhere following that comes spirits and cycling. It is the latter of this unholy trinity that is the cause of this self-indulgent rant.
I finally made it back into my lycra onesie and put pedals into perfect circles this morning, after a few months of staring at my bike and wondering why I wasn’t using it. I really have no excuse, something whimsical was preventing me. I honestly don’t know why – perhaps the same reason that I haven’t been to the gym in a while. Probably connected. I love cycling and I love the gym. Sometimes it seems I love being lazy just a little bit more.
There is a stereotype of the city cyclist as being a bolt of spandex-clad lightning ducking and weaving through the traffic, forcing their way on the street and surviving through sheer aggression. This unfortunate image is something almost all semi-serious cyclists are forced to adopt merely to survive; if the exercise didn’t do me so much good I would swear that the stress of cycling was murderous to my blood-pressure.
It is impossible to have a relaxing ride through the city. You must be constantly alert to the fact that you are, essentially, invisible to everyone around you. You are an irritant to the car drivers (who hate that you sneak to the front of every set of traffic lights, and insist on driving forward into the specially painted cyclists patch at said traffic lights), and not as big or dangerous as a car, therefore not worth considering to pedestrians. You’re probably a health-freak anyway, cycling like that, and a strange psychological jealousy leads all those McDonalds-eating slobs to hate you on principle.
The next pedestrian to step out in front of me without fucking looking where they’re going is going to get hit, even if I have time to brake/swerve, on general principle. If I break a rib/arm in the process, so be it.
I rode over to the Southside and back this morning; I had, rather drunkenly, left my phone at Bonsai (awesome little sushi joint) after the carnage of Champagne Monday. On no less than four occasions, a pedestrian walked out onto the road without even checking to see what was coming, one even meandered across with her back to me to the extent that I had time to brake, come up alongside her, and scare the shit out of the dumb hag by asking her, quite firmly, “Ever look before you cross the road?”
Just because you can’t hear something coming doesn’t mean there isn’t something coming. I oil moving parts so they don’t squeak, so I am a quiet running vehicle.
On the return trip, after negotiating the mess of buses along Princes Street (seriously, you close the street to all traffic except buses and they still manage to cause gridlock), I was turning on to Frederick Street. Pedestrians waiting either side for the green man, were suddenly overcome with boredom, and since they couldn’t hear any big diesel engines nearby, they just stepped out on to the road. In the path of a bike hurtling towards them.
I shouted. They took this as a sign that they should stop right in front of me. I ground to a halt in front of one woman who had LITERALLY run out from the pavement AFTER seeing everyone else panic at the yelling of the oncoming cyclist who HAD RIGHT OF FUCKING WAY. She looked at me, THEN RAN OUT IN FRONT OF ME. Death wish? Hers or a wish to cause mine? I could barely splutter some expletives before she moved on out my way and I was able to get moving.
This really, really pissed me off.
Green Cross Code people. Look both ways before you cross the road. We learn that AS CHILDREN. We are taught not to cross unless the Green Man is showing that we are safe to do so, and if we do wish to cross when it is not safe, we should take some precautions for our safety and others, by bloody LOOKING TO SEE IF ANYTHING IS COMING.
These people are MORONS.
I’m so pissed off about this that I’ve been driven to using Caps Lock. That’s only one step shy of multiple exclamation marks.