I don’t bike that much anymore and when I do most of my bike kits are — accidentally — pink. So, I look all small and girlish, which means, for a variety of vaguely sexist reasons, I don’t get yelled at as much by angry drivers and people who want to re-claim the roads for the cars or whatever. (I mean I do get yelled at, obviously. There’s a lot of hatred towards anyone on a bike over the age of 10. It’s just not as much.)
But, Steve does. He gets all kinds of crazed people screaming at him about paying the road tax. Primarily because he rides a lot and because he looks all pro and cyclist-y. If you look legit, someone will try to kill you with their car. If you want to avoid the hatred: don’t wear spandex, stick as many baskets or carriers or extra whats-its on your bike as possible, preferably carry a backpack — but don’t be a tourist. It’s complicated.
People say things to me when I’m running, but, for the most part, no one’s tried to kill me.
We live on the edge of a whole shitload of nothing. (Side note: someone dropping something off at my place once saw a deer and was convinced “it’s so quaint” and “rural.” But, like, I dunno, we were standing outside a Panera when she said this, so.) The point is, though, that you go through one stoplight getting out of our neighborhood, then you can bike and bike for maybe six or seven hours without seeing any stop lights or large towns or, sometimes, people. There’s really not a whole lot for drivers to get upset about.
Yesterday, when Steve was riding out of our place in the early evening, he was making a left turn and in the left-turn lane, signalling or whatever. An old guy pulls up behind him honking and honking and screams out the window, “I don’t care if you get killed. In fact, I hope you do.”
A couple months ago, a very elderly woman started swerving into Steve when he was riding back from the valley to our house. He kept moving out of the way and she kept riding into him to force him to pull over, I guess. Eventually she pulls up next to him and starts yelling at him. “I saw you go through three stoplights and, I’m not the police, but you just need to know. I just wanted to tell you I feel sorry for you.” And, Steve was like, um, I haven’t been through a stoplight in three hours; there are no stoplights here. She just kept yelling at him, “I feel sorry for you.”
(It sounds like I’m making all these people old in these stories, but that’s just a fact. Old people are crazy.)
There’s other, lots of other, crazier stories he has and I have and friends have. Whenever I do ride home at commute time, with so many stressed cars on the road, it usually makes me hate people and feel bad about the future of humanity. But, sometimes, when they’re just so crazy, you have to wonder what they do the rest of the time they’re not harassing cyclists.