Wednesday, 8 December 2010
My neighbourhood is pretty friendly. Generally people will smile if they recognise you and some will say hello. This morning as I cycled my four-year-old to her nursery, I encountered a pedestrian on the narrow footpath which leads from a private car park into the entrance of Victoria Park. I cycle this way to avoid going against the traffic on the one-way system, and also because I seldom encounter anyone here (in winter anyway), as only locals tend to use it since no-one can see the path from the main road.
If I do see kids on bikes, scooters or someone with a pram, I tend to dismount to allow people to pass. In this instance I didn’t have a chance as the second I saw pedestrian we had a pow-wow. This pedestrian was clearly irritated at a cyclist having the gall to cycle on the footpath and stood still, blocking the footpath. I had come to a standstill thinking he’ll walk around as he could step off the path (and it’s a five or six inch step) whereas I have an 18 kilo kid on the back of my bike. For me moving the bike (and kid) off that path and onto the car park to allow him to pass and then hauling the bike back up onto the kerb to continue my journey seemed unnecessary. He said gruffly “It’s a footpath you know” to which I replied “Yes I know, but I have a kid on the back here...” he didn’t move.
Now I guess I should’ve thought of what to do in a situation like this before it was thrust upon me – I too get annoyed by selfish cyclists when I’m walking – but I wasn’t about to mow him down, and getting off the bike wouldn’t have solved this problem as one of us would still have to step down to allow the other to pass, so I stayed where I was and eventually he moved around me with a sour look on his face. For some reason which escapes me now I shouted “Thanks mate, don’t be such a cock next time” and he shouted back something about using that sort of language in front of my kid. So not only have I become a cliché of a rude cyclist I am now meant to adjust my response in a tense stand-off situation.
I shouted back “Fuck you!” and rode off, and surprisingly, instead of feeling embarrassed or remorseful, I felt actually pretty good. I wish I’d just said that to him in the first place and saved a minute of my time. (Note – I swear. And I swear in front of my kids. Neither of whom have ever sworn. I’m not saying it’s a good thing to do.)