Believe it or not, I usually get through most of my day without anyone trying to mortally wound, or even maim me. Which makes sense, as I am not an international spy, a drug dealer, a cow, a chicken, or anything else that routinely faces imminent death. But for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening when I am on my bicycle, I get the distinct feeling that the very sight of me sends everyone in a car into a homicidal rage. They rev their engines, honk their horns, come within inches of sideswiping me, swerve in front of me, and just generally act like they hate my fucking guts.
This hurts my feelings. I am a perfectly nice woman. I hold doors open for people. I make sincere small talk with strangers. I let people cut in line if they are in a hurry. I am fairly certain it isn’t me personally, because these same potential vehicular manslaughterers are sweet as pie when I see them outside of their cars (unless I see them at the grocery store, where they are flatulent dickbags who should just get the fuck out of my way and let me use the produce scanner).
Is there some kind of bicycle hatred pheromone that is only released when I start to pedal? Is it the maddening rotation of my bike tires that whips drivers into a venomous frenzy?
Whenever possible, I try to make eye contact with these folks, much like I imagine a gazelle looking into the eyes of the lion who is about to take a big chomp into its jugular. This way, at least there is a moment of karmic acknowledgement that a much larger, more aggressive, and more physically powerful thing has just taken me down.
Except the lion eats the gazelle for dinner, and these people are just worried they will miss the first five minutes of American Idol.
Perhaps I would understand the whole situation better, if in fact, they planned to strap me to the back of their enormous fucking trucks, make steaks out of me, turn the rest into jerky, and hang my head in their den.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I commuted several hours a day for years, so, believe me, I understand road rage. You don’t exactly know why you are so angry. All you know is that you FUCKING HATE EVERYONE AND IT IS ALL THEIR FAULT. Well, shit. Maybe you are right. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why you might hate a tiny little woman on a bicycle:
1) Because you had to slow down. First of all, no offense, but you were probably going too fast anyway. Especially on the residential streets where I ride. There is a reason why speed limits are low in places where kids or animals might accidentally dart into the road. If you want to drive fast, then get on the highway. Oh, right, you will end up sitting in traffic on the highway. I guess you should be glad that I only slowed you down for one or two blocks.
2) Because some bicyclists are assholes and do dangerous things. Well, fuck, man. I don’t like those shitheads anymore than you do. Just as you may not be the kind of driver who purposely cuts off a bicyclist, I am not the cyclist who rides stealth with no lights in the middle of the night, darts in front of you, and throws an empty PBR can at your windshield. An asshole is an asshole. Let’s not judge each other by the worst examples of our kind.
3) Because cyclists are elitist and judgmental, and they don’t understand that some people can’t commute by bike. It is obviously not fair to judge anyone whose health or other circumstances make it impossible to ride a bike instead of driving a car. However, it seems to me that car commuters should be grateful to bike commuters who can and who choose to lessen their carbon footprint. Like it or not, a person on a bike is doing a helluva lot less damage to the environment and “reducing our dependence on foreign oil” if you care about that kind of shit, so show a little respect for the sacrifices and the effort it took for that person to ride instead of drive.
4) Because cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road. I am guilty of not stopping completely at every stop sign, but let’s be reasonable. If I approach a stop sign where a car has obviously gotten there before me, I will stop and wait for that car to go. However, if I get to the stop sign first (or it is clear that I would have gotten to it first), then I take some liberties with being able to keep my momentum and not come to a full and complete stop. Especially if I am going uphill. I know this isn’t technically fair to drivers who have to stop completely, but the amount of effort it takes me to stop and start again is equivalent to propelling ALL of my body weight forward, while the amount of effort it takes you to stop your car is this (makes small motion with one foot).
Please try to have just a little bit of compassion for the fact that I am lugging all of my daily necessities through blazing heat, humidity, rain, and wind while being harassed by arrogant, self-absorbed buttholes who are trying to run me off the road. Meanwhile, you are sitting comfortably in your temperature-controlled car, barely paying attention as you text and listen to the radio and eat the stray french fries that have fallen out of their cardboard container and into the bag.
So, to sum up: I think we will both be happier in the long run if you don’t kill me with your vehicle. Thanks a bunch. See you on the road, you murderous maniac who looks like a nice little grandma but who is actually the minion of the devil himself. Unless I see you at the grocery store first, in which case, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY. I AM TRYING TO BUY SOME BANANAS.