A Cycling Cliché

Most people know the “angry cyclist” stereotype. I’m starting to wonder if it’s more than that.

My family and I suffered a road rage incident today. My wife was taking me to a bus stop so I could get to the hospital for a day procedure - and she could get to work on time. My daughter works at the hospital so I was going with her. 

We were driving through the morning crush - peak hour traffic in the busy café district of Leederville. As we were nearing the relevant bus stop, my wife stopped at a yield sign so my daughter and I could climb out (there was literally no where else to stop, never mind park). 

We had passed a cyclist in a parallel bicycle lane about a minute before. Obviously he’d caught up as I fumbled the childproof lock. “Oh for fuck’s sake!” He shouted as I got out. It seemed he’d lost momentum coming in to the shared part of the road - indeed, horror of horrors, he’d actually had to stop (as if car drivers like me don’t regularly accept the necessity of slowing down to 20km/h for hundreds of metres to accommodate cyclists). 

My first instinct was to apologise. But this Lycra-clad, entitled, privileged, older, executive-class twat cycled past me and started punching the side car window, yelling the foulest abuse at my wife, because she had dared stop at a yield sign and wrecked his cycling momentum (because, you know, it’s tough to rebuild that momentum, especially as you cycle full-speed, head-down, through peak hour traffic).

Seeing this, and fearing he’d break something and maybe even injure my wife, I shouted: 

“Oi! Dickhead! Come here!” 

At which (as I knew he would) the gutless “male Karen” cycled off in a great rush. 

Good: mission accomplished with no violence, other than a verbal insult, on my part.

And no - we hadn’t “cut him off” or anything else he might allege in some revisionist account to his similarly-entitled mates. He was simply annoyed my wife was stopping at a yield sign (however briefly - I must have taken 4 seconds to get out). The poor dear had just lost his road speed - all in a crowded café district in peak hour traffic). And this entitled him to lose his cool and enact physical violence (accompanied by foul expletives) against my terrified wife along with possible property damage (which I have yet to assess - I’m only out of the procedure half the day later).

A passing truck driver (who saw everything - and was crawling along like everyone else in the heavy traffic) shook his head and said: “What’s wrong with people…”

I am a lifelong cyclist and motorcyclist. In my experience, motorcyclists are generally more aware of defensive riding - partly because they are trained to be (you have to pass written and practical tests) and partly because they travel at faster speeds. As all motorcyclists know: “Ride as if everyone is out to kill you - because they basically are!” But it doesn’t matter what you do if someone deliberately tries to take you out.

Idiots like this particular cyclist want to travel at 30km/h in heavy traffic - with virtually no brakes, no protection to speak of and minimal road “presence”. Then they get annoyed because they are unable to maintain a constant speed on a road shared with seriously dangerous traffic - as if the road were their private training track.

I love cycling and motorcycling. I think cycling should be encouraged for health, fitness and the environment. But the mindset of certain cyclists needs to change. The road is a dangerous place. And having a road rage fit over someone slowing you down as you combine commuting and physical fitness training is not on.  This fellow was clearly someone with “all the gear but no idea”.

But really, it was all okay - people will have a bad day and lose their temper. It was okay until the coward became violent. That’s when this particular individual went from being a cliché to a bully - and a criminal.