Is it worth dying for?

I have never done anything that incites as much anger and hatred as riding a bike. I incite spitting eye-popping invective, hurled abuse, random attacks of violence and on a couple of occasions now a serious  attempt to deliberately run me over. Direct attacks on my life and limb.

The last time this happened was yesterday. I’d barely ridden 200 metres when a guy in a V8 Commodore negligently run me off the road…but this isn’t the attack I refer to. This guy was just another mindless moron in a car who turned into a sidestreet without indicating just as he was overtaking me. All I could do was thank him for keeping me alert. In the Deathrace 2000  event that is a casual ride on our streets it’s good to have people like these to sharpen our sense. Had I succumbed to his lazy and half-hearted attempt to run me down we would put it down to herd thinning, me too old and slow and no longer fit for the commute. 
Commodore guy was just one of the usual and trivial hazards of cycling. The one that really got up my goat was  4WD Moron who quite deliberately tried to run me down. I had crossed the Southport bridge on the shared pathway, as I am entitled. The Southport bridge is one of the few accident blackspots I know that has at least one tow-truck permanently stationed there. I rarely cycle across using the road.
At the end of the bridge is a crossing. I let two cars go because they were were totally oblivious to anyone trying to use the crossing or even that there may be a cross or perhaps even the idea that crossing exist. This corner is for many a tricky operation, a spot where they have to turn a corner and then merge with other vehicles. Either one of those  is enough to entirely eclipse most car drivers attention span, the two together render the mid-corner crossing effectively invisible to most. But I made eye contact with the third guy and proceeded across. It was about then I had to jam on my brakes and make evasive maneuvers  or be run down by one of those massive trucks people seem to need to get from A to B these days. The owner of the  truck stopped on the crossing for a few moment to deliver a few words of red-hot eye-popping spit-flying rage…against me…but then quickly saw the look in my eye and moved on. My life had been threatened and I was ready to kill or be killed. 
I made the other side safely and considered my options. I was pretty sure I could catch him by short-cutting through Main Beach. These big fat oafs in there cars and trucks aren’t as invulnerable from cyclists as they like to think. These slow box-like vehicles find it hard to maneuverer round and past simple objects and they have a nasty habit of getting in each others way. Despite this many still believe in the myth of speed sold to them on every car advert on the television. Obviously they wouldn’t do most of the stupid  things they do if they thought they could be tracked down, dragged from their little protective shells and held accountable for their actions.
The rage was wearing off though and while I no longer wanted to smash his head against the gutter was was still pretty keen on trying to talk to sense into 4WD guy. I came out on the beach road just as he rounded the bend. I whistled and called out and miraculously the truck pulled over, not because he’d heard me but because this was where he lived!

I bailed the guy up and asked him if he was the guy who tried to kill me a few minutes back and he went on a foaming at the mouth rampage, calling me a “f–cking c–t” and screaming that I had no right to be on the crossing and I should have been “on the road where I belonged”. I’ve tried riding on the road, and I still often do it, and strangely enough I get the opposite response there, people telling I should get off the f-ing road and back on the footpath where I belonged. It’d be enough to make my head spin…if I actually cared for or listened to their opinion.

We did a fair bit of yelling at each other and I gathered from this that the gist of his argument was that needed to run me over because I was mistaken about my rights to use the crossing. I politely (yeah right!) pointed out that his vehicle weighed in at well over 1,000kgs and I weighed in at well under 100kgs, and it was just this kind of imbalance that caused the kind of road trauma that lead to lengthy hospital stays and perhaps death for the lesser of the two vehicle operators. My argument wasn’t about the finer points of law so much as it was about physics, the frailty of the human body when compared to a truck and how you would HAVE TO BE STARK RAVING MAD TO EVEN CONSIDER FOR THE MEREST MOMENT THAT YOU NEEDED TO RUN SOMEONE DOWN WITH A TRUCK FOR USING OR MIS-USING A CROSSING!

Okay, it was about that point I was starting to properly lose my cool. I was faced with an angry irrational moron with the selfish and self-righteous reasoning of a 5 year old throwing a tantrum (even though clearly on the wrong side of 60) and his finger pointing was getting dangerously close to my face, at which point I knew it would be on for young and old…so I offered up a few last pieces of sound advise (some of which aren’t physically possible) and made my departure.

The rest of the journey was uneventful but not without the usual perils; two cars parked on yellow lines forcing me into traffic on busy roads, one car parked in the bike lane of Hedges forcing me into oncoming traffic…the usual things. A woman with a pram pushed it into my path metres down from traffic lights in Broadbeach. My reaction was to accommodate her by slowing down and riding round her but I couldn’t help but wonder if a more appropriate response wouldn’t be to speed up and run her down…she was in my way, she was in the wrong, I was well in my right to try and kill her surely?

This one had me wondering how 4WD Moron responded to the small daily annoyances such as my people parked on yellow lines. Not only did 4WD Moron react disproportionate but when I suggested I call the police he was so sure of his self-righteous fury he was not just willing but keen to get them involved. (I thought about it but I couldn’t image sharing tea and biscuits for two hours with this guy while we waited for police to attend. I’m kicking myself for not taking my camera or right now I’d have photos of him and his number plate and time to pursue this properly.)

Here are some scenarios I considered:

4WD Moron: Yes, officer, I did kill them in cold blood but after all they were parked opposite a solid white line.
Police: Fair enough. Parking opposite a solid white line isn’t actually illegal but I can see you meant well and anyway the response was appropriate given the crime, or what might easily be mistaken for a crime anyway

4WD Moron: When they stepped in front of me at the cashier, that’s when I pulled out the shotgun…
Police: Good thing too. Should be more people like you in the world.

4WD Moron: This guy bumped into me at the bar, spilling my drink down the front of my shirt. That’s when I set fire to the hotel and burned everyone inside it to a crisp.
Police: Yeah well, that’s probably going a bit far isn’t it…but I’m letting you off with a reprimand this time.

You get the idea. My question is, what world does this guy live in?

If only he was one lone mad moron with stunted mental faculties…but I’ve had other people  do the same. Years ago in Melbourne I was nearly driven off the road by two guys in a car, so I flipped them the bird and yelled some abuse. They responded by really and truly trying to run me down. Just missed really. I caught up to them in traffic and gave them an earful further down the road. They were trapped in traffic and with only the locked doors of their car to protect them they could only offer their excuses. Apparently, they were completely justified in trying to kill me by the fact I’d flipped them the bird. I wasn’t aware that kind of harmless digital abuse warranted a death sentence but they were adamant.  I was lost for words, “You tried to kill me…because…I gave you the finger?” Yep. That was about it. And these are just the people I’ve managed to catch up with. Many many more besides have seen fit to have a red hot go at running me down with their car because I was in some way in their way and death was therefore, if anything, too good for me.

While riding home a car pulled up beside me and the  passenger said, “Oi!”

I thought, “Here we go again.”

“You doing 40. How fast  can you go?”

“I’m doing 40?” Sounded flattering but I reckon I was in the 25-30km/hr range.

“How fast can you go? Give it a go. See how fast.”

I declined to throw in a sprint for their benefit but it was nice to have a reminder that not everyone in a car is out to kill me.

One Comment

  1. muswellbrook

    For every moron who has tried to cut me off or kill me, I like to remember the drivers who patiently give way to me, move over a bit to share their lane, or even change lanes to pass me. If I try really hard, I can even sometimes remember more nice things drivers have done for me than murderous. It’s the only way to keep sane.

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