What Will You Tell Her?
This post is in response to the increasing hostility I have encountered lately while riding west of our fair city. Today while out on a group ride, a truck travelling in the oncoming lane intentionally swerved into our lane, then gave us the finger. Over the last number of years, we have been repeatedly (and increasingly) threatened, honked at, and yelled at by people who think nothing of using their vehicles as weapons. The traffic in these areas is light, and cyclists make up a minuscule fraction of the ‘obstacles’ on the road. If this aggressive, entitled, and ignorant behaviour doesn’t stop, I guarantee it is only a matter of time before a cyclist gets killed. While I hate to generalize, I have seen enough incidents to say that the majority of our aggressive encounters have been with males, 40-70 years old, driving trucks. I can’t help but try to imagine what these men (and I use the term loosely) are like when they go home to their families.
Her: Grandpa, Granny told me that today you hit a cyclist with your truck and that she might die.
Him: That’s right Sweety. I put a couple of other ones in the hospital too.
Her: Why did you hit them Grandpa?
Him: Well you see, Grandpa has a big truck and likes to drive fast. If I have to slow down a little bit, or wait to pass a bunch of cyclists, that makes me very, very angry.
Her: Will you go to jail if she dies?
Him: (laughing) No, honey, of course not. You see, she was riding BESIDE someone and that’s not allowed because then people in cars have to slow down or pass them. That can take five seconds sometimes. She was breaking the rules, so it was her fault that I hit her.
Her: Oh, that’s good. But don’t you have to slow down for other things? Like other cars, or people out walking, or tractors and things?
Him: Yes, but it’s not the same thing. Those aren’t bikes and they are allowed to be on the road. Those people pay taxes. Cyclists don’t.
Hey honey, it’s such a nice day outside, you should go ride your bike or something.
Her: No, that’s ok Grandpa. I think I’ll stay inside.