We sat at the red light together and when they turned green we all crossed. He came up behind and jolted me alert with a good loud honk from his commercial van’s horn. I looked up curiously at the van’s receding rear window wondering if perhaps I knew the guy. It hadn’t seemed like a friendly honk but it’s hard to tell one honk from another. I caught up with him at a pedestrian crossing whereupon he slid down the window and abused me, saying, among other things, “What you did was illegal.”
I tried hard to think back. What did he have one me? I couldn’t think of anything in the immediate past. Maybe he saw me steal those cotter pins from K-Mart when I was 12. I knew that stuff would come back and haunt me one day.
But no. According to this guy, what I’d done wrong was pass the three or four cars sitting at the red light and position myself in the bike lane next to them at the front of the lights. Okay…I might have weaved. Obviously a staunch supporter of Warnie like myself should have known better. In my defense: there were cars in the bike lane.
Anyhoo. The van driver felt the need to drive along beside me, lean across his wife and yell torrents of abuse at me. Which I accepted with good grace of course. You know, I had weaved. And I am sorry. It’s just that I haven’t had the “logic bi-pass surgery” yet and to me it just makes sense and feels so natural to pull up at the front of the lights. Lobotomies are simple procedures that used to be done for out-patients and I’m pretty sure I can do it myself if I’m careful. Then I’ll be right.
|A ballpoint pen shoved through the nose aughta do it.|
We drove along together for some time in this way having a robust exchange of views. Having already been involved in one verbal today I wasn’t keen for another shouting match so I kept my side of the exchange to such questions as, “Why do you even feel the need to tell me this?” And surely, that’s a good question right? I mean, even supposing he’s not just making up new laws, why the fuck should he care what I do? Does he verbal litterbugs and jay-walkers? Does he cut off speeding motorists and remind them that the laws requires them to keep under 60?
A good four or five cars were now caught behind us and the irony of the situation appealed to me enough to try and prolong the discussion. Obviously weaving through stopped traffic is reprehensible and vial and dangerous beyond credibility (and I’m suitably repentant of course)…but isn’t driving along holding a conversation with a cyclist through the passenger-side window also a teensy bit stupid?
Eventually my new friend got sick of this and drove off and I was sad to see him go. This was perhaps my best chance to discover what drives the incoherent rage drivers feel against us cyclist and if I was ever to discover all the peculiar and unexpected ways in which I piss off these people then surely my friend here was the one to tell me. Sadly his responses lacked sufficient depth to grow my knowledge and I had to dismiss him with a curt, “I’ve heard it all before pal.”
I caught up with my new friend near Southport some minutes later, caught in traffic, sitting in the turning lane. As I approached him I weaved through the traffic and greeted him with the kind of wave and smile you reserve for close friends. Now, just supposing this is illegal, this weaving thing, then it’s certainly not the sort of thing that police care about. I know this because I weaved over to my friend right in front of two police in a police car. And I didn’t give so much as an admonishing tilt of the head.
My friend gave me another dissertation about the ways and responsibilities of cycling on roads with cars but sadly I couldn’t make out too much of what he was saying. I smiled generously and told him happily, “You’re an idiot”, then I weaved through the traffic back to the bike lane to the front of the lights. A Chinese guy on a clunker bike crossed with the lights then weaved across and crossed against the lights and continued on his merry way. I can only imagine what my friend made of that.
The problem with these incidents is they have severely tested my faith in Warnie and his right to run down errant cyclists at will. In fact, I really feel I’m starting to get my back up. I feel like maybe I should take some steroids, pump some iron and get some tatts so I don’t look like the kind of guy you can randomly yell abuse at and drive over. I think I can understand why bikies are drawn together into gangs. Tired of the abuse they adopt a pose of defiance, get some mates and start wreaking havoc. I’m starting to feel that way too. Problem is, this is what happens to cyclist when they mass:
You have to feel sorry for people who goad a lion like this and are surprised when it bites. Clearly most car drivers would rather kill us than share the road with us and testing their patience with acts of defiance only makes them madder. Unfortunately righteousness and a small buffer of fellow cyclists are not protection against a tonne or more of moving mass controlled by a driver blinded by rage.
So I’m sorry Warnie, but I think you’re on your own now. I’m not sure where that leaves me, having adopted contrition so briefly and now left it behind. Maybe I’ll just try minding my own business and hope that the fact of my mere existence stops enraging so many people so frequently.