As a driver, cyclists often test my patience on the road. I’m not talking about cyclists who basically do their best to share the road with cars by driving off to the side a bit, signalling their intentions, and overall being safe. There’s a place on the road for people like that.
I’m not talking about bike messengers downtown either – they drive around like lunatics, yes, but I can appreciate the nature of their job and the pressure they’re under. I don’t really like them swerving in and out of traffic, but they’re a special case. I try to ignore them and not get frustrated.
But there’s a whole other set of cyclists that are creating tension on the road seemingly just to make a point… what that point is? I’m not terribly sure, but it’s very upsetting.
A complete psycho
What prompted me to write this is an incident that occurred last week in NDG between my wife and I in our car, and what can only be described as a total lunatic on a bike.
We were driving up McLynn on the way to a meeting in NDG, and there was a fellow on his street bike in full Tour-de-France-style gear/helmet/etc. – dude obviously takes his cycling and himself very seriously. He was driving smack in the middle of the road and we wanted to pass.
My wife (a cyclist herself once upon a time and probably one day again, with a road bike and everything) was driving – no more than 30 km/h, took a wide berth around him, passed him at the corner of Bourret, and we continued along our way without thinking twice about it. Three or four blocks later, the guy catches up with us and punches the passenger door and drives up the street. We kept our cool and blew it off as the guy just being nuts, and kept driving up the street. Johanna turned right on Van Horne, the left on MacDonald. We reached the top of MacDonald where it turns right behind the big synagogue that takes up half the block there, and the guy comes out of nowhere to punch my door again!
This guy followed us for something like 15 blocks!
The chase begins
Anyone who knows me knows I might have a bit of an edge, but I have never in my life been violent or the type of person to get out of my car to deal with something like this guy’s insanity. But this was over the line – no one is going to attack my family and get away with it.
I leaped out of the car, chased him around the corner onto Cote St. Luc Road (remember – I’m on foot and he’s on a bike!). He turned into the wrong alley and ended up cornering himself.
Picture the scene: This enraged mental case is cornered by a 6’2″, 210 lb man who literally chased him down and is clearly pretty upset himself. Let’s put it this way – this guy is very fortunate that I am not a violent person, otherwise his night would not have ended very well.
The “conversation” went more or less as follows:
Me: I’m not going to hit you.
Lunatic: YOU ENDANGERED MY SAFETY!
Me: We didn’t endanger you. You were driving in the middle of the road and my wife passed you. Nothing dangerous. Plus you need to get out of the way of cars – you were the one driving dangerously.
Lunatic: ARRRR BAAAAAHHH GRRR BIKES CAN USE ROAD CARS HAVE TO MOVE!!!
Me: Ok tough guy, you can drive in the middle of the road… But do you also stop at stop signs and red lights? If you want to act like a car, the you have to respect the rules, too!
Lunatic: NO RULES I CAN DO WHAT I WANT CARS HAVE TO MOVE,!
At this point, I could see there was no reasoning with this mini Lance Armstrong so I blew him off and walked away, looking to find my wife in the car. We connected on our phones and she met me a few blocks away – only to tell me that “Lance” had assaulted the car yet again while she was looking for me!
Three small dents and one crazy adventure later, I’m left to wonder what the hell is wrong with people? Is this guy just a single lunatic hell-bent on bikes taking over the road? Is he part of a movement of cyclists who want to wage war with cars?
As I said at the beginning, I have no quarrel with cyclists. I grew up biking and rollerblading all over NDG and as soon as our daughter is old enough, we’ll surely all get bikes and hit to road as a family.
But where is the common sense? There’s no war to be waged here – cyclists need to get out of the way, point final. Not because I think cars are superior or I’m anti-bike… But because it’s common effing sense! In my car, I yield to buses and truck because, well, you don’t have to be Charles Darwin to understand the concept of survival of the fittest – that buses and trucks are bigger so right or wrong, I better get out of the way because I’ll lose.
Same thing for bikes and cars. Just because there are some fancy arrows and little bike logos painted on the street, doesn’t mean cars won’t still hit cyclists if cyclists aren’t being careful.
When our daughter is ready to hit the road, we’re going to teach her to wear a helmet, obey the law, and get out of the way.
That’s just common sense.
As for Lance? I wish him no ill will – he obviously has issues and I’m certain this was neither his first, nor his last rodeo. I just hope he learns to cool his jets before he runs into a guy who doesn’t keep so cool under attack… Otherwise his little cyclist crusade isn’t going to end very well.