I ride my bike to and from work. That's pretty much the extent of my cycling, as I never seem to find the time to take that long ride out to Sambro that I have been promising myself, nor do I get a chance to hit the highway out to Peggy's Cove for a day trip. I keep saying I am going to do it, but somehow, life always gets in the way.
So I commute on my bike. Its a short ride, maybe 5 kms each way. A lot of hills to work with, but hey, that's Halifax for you. Its a decent work out, generates a good sweat and gets the heart rate up there - both of which I am reliably informed are "good for me." Not sure about that some times going up Herring Cove Road, but I'll believe those wacky doctors for just a little while longer.
My daily ride is supposed to be a source of calm for me. Time alone, just me and my bike. My muscles doing all the work. Knowing that I and I alone am responsible for my journey. Free in the moral high ground of non-pollution, lowering my eco-footprint and getting exercise all at the same time. Yup, its a win-win. Or at least it is supposed to be. You see, there is this one tinsy tiny, niggling little thing that gets in the way of all of that. Other people.
Cars belong on the road. So do cycles. We can share that road very handily. There is enough space on nearly every street that I ride on where I can ride close to the sidewalk (always within one meter of the edge of the street) and cars can pass me, at their normal speed while staying within their lanes. I signal my turns and stops. I obey all traffic rules and regulations, and almost never ride on the sidewalk (save for one short portion of my commute that has no shoulder at all). Is it too much to expect that the vehicles I am carefully sharing the road with do the same??
Sure, I haven't yet seen a car driving on the sidewalk. But what about just obeying the basic traffic rules? I have been clipped five times since I started riding my bike out here, twice quite seriously. Once I actually ended up almost on the roof of a vehicle that decided to make an illegal turn directly in front of me - illegal in that they were turning the wrong way onto a clearly marked one way street, and cut me off to do so.
The bus driver that stomped on the gas to surge ahead of me, just enough so that he could swerve back in front of me and nail the brakes at the stop, causing me to actually impact the back of the bus - well that one I reported.
Then this morning, I get yelled at by a driver behind me. Took me a couple moments to realize that his honking and yelling was directed at me. We were both in the regular flow of traffic, stopped at a powerless (normally) lighted intersection. The drivers had mostly forgotten to treat it as a four way stop, and there was some significant congestion as a result. The three cars ahead of me were just sitting and waiting. My loud friend behind me yelled at me to go between the lanes (the left turning lane and the straight lane). When I tried to explain that was a) dangerous and b) illegal, he became distraught and accused me of making him late for work. Apparently the ten seconds it would take for me to go through the intersection when it was my turn was enough to get him fired...
But the human tendency for ignorance continued when I arrived at work. While standing, waiting for the elevator, I huffed a sigh, still out of breath from my ride. The woman waiting with me smiled and said "You ran to work today?"
As I stood there, pannier in one hand, water bottle in the other, and BIKE HELMET ON MY HEAD, I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. Finally I decided that discretion was required, and just smiled.
It was a rough start to a Friday morning.