24 August 2012
I was crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing with a spring in my step and Active Child* in my cans. I had to bounce the last few steps to make it before the lights changed and just as I stepped onto the pavement I was cut up by a cyclist who swerved diagonally in front of me in order to press the walk button without getting off her bike, forcing me into a sidestep to avoid being hit. As I navigated the obstacle on the path I tutted. Rather ill-mannered of me I’ll admit but not as naughty as riding a bicycle on the pavement.
The cyclist had heard me and said something in response, the tail end of which I caught as I removed my headphones.
“…there’s no need to tut!”
“What?”, I asked incredulously, “You’ve just cut me up on your bike!”
“I said ‘Sorry’, there was no need to tut!”
“Did you? I didn’t hear you, I had my headphones on.”
“Yes, I know.” She replied accusingly.
Hang on here, I thought, there’s a rabbit off!
This young female student, with clearly a misplaced sense of entitlement, was being snarky with me because I had objected to nearly being hit while she was contravening the Highways Act 1835 which prohibits cycling on a footpath that is “by the side of any road” and “set apart for” use by pedestrians. I assume this particularly includes a pedestrian crossing. If she dismounted she would have obeyed the law and prevented our altercation. Also, we were in university territory with plenty of cycle lanes that she could have utilised.
I explained this to her but she was having none of it. I could tell by her response as she recommended that I should find someone to have sex with and that I was hirsute and illegitimate. She put more succinctly than that with a pithy “Fuck off, you hairy bastard!”
“Whoa, there’s no need for bad language.” I said and continued, not giving her space to reply, “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you say ‘sorry’. It’s obvious you’ve had a bad day and we can all be guilty of taking it out on someone else. I hope you enjoy the rest of your ride. You clearly need the exercise!”
Boom! Explosions were happening in her mouth as she spat and stammered at me, her face beetrooting up. By this point the lights had changed and she’d dismounted and begun to walk her bike over the crossing swearing at me further.
“Gosh, what a potty mouth you are!” I said.
A couple were crossing in the opposite direction and their mirth was clearly detectable on their faces.
“You’ve just fucking called me fat!” she yelled, reaching the isle in the middle of the road.
“No, I didn’t.” I corrected her, “I only implied that you were!”
I was actually finding the situation funny by this point; such fury had been unleashed by a simple tut. I couldn’t believe her arrogance and ignorance, her sense of being hard done to, when she’d committed a greater breach of conduct.
Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for cyclists. They suffer such inconsideration from motorists. I ride a bike occasionally and I know how scary the roads can be. But it is this experience that informs me about the need to be considerate and careful as we travel amongst traffic and people. Are we not, ultimately, all pedestrians?
“Have a good day.” I called pleasantly after her and waved as she tucked her saddle between her ample butt cheeks and peddled with such fury that she’d thank me later for the good the exercise did her.
* If you don’t know them I’d urge you to investigate starting with –
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