We’re out of February and into March so it was time to get back on the bike. I’ve changed jobs since I last commuted to work so it was a whole new experience. I was quite nervous before the first trip – would the bike be okay, would I get lost, would I fall off?
As it was, I didn’t fall off and the bike was fine. But I did get lost and it took me about 25 minutes extra to get into work. But most of the lost time was riding along a canal path (the wrong canal path) so it didn’t matter too much.
There was one extremely unpleasant moment. Having crossed the zebra at the north end of Salmon Lane I was following a chap on the cycle/path way and coming the other way were two women and about five children. They were all holding hands and the kids were aged about 5-7. The other cyclist rang his bell several times and shouted “get out of the fucking way” several times. The women and children scattered.
I wasn’t going to catch the cyclist so I stopped to talk to the women and children, make sure that they were okay and really just to tell them that the other guy was a very angry man and that not all cyclists are like that.
I carried on and then found myself following the angry cyclist. I’m not a fast cyclist and he wasn’t getting away from me, but he did turn off before I could catch him up. So it wasn’t like he really was in a hurry.
It was such a shame, that little incident. I hope that man can deal with his anger sooner rather than later.
Sometimes I find that when I’m cycling to or from work, I get frustrated with people more quickly than I would if I was interacting with them in other ways. I’ve had to learn to curb my own anger with people’s actions. Most often, the problem people are drivers but occasionally it is pedestrians (especially in the cycle lane/pavement in Peckham).
I’m rarely the problem. Except that I am. Sometimes I’ll spot a bit of sub-par behaviour from another cyclist and think to myself ‘well I wouldn’t have done that’. And then later I might catch myself doing it and thinking myself entirely justified in doing it too. At first, it is a small effort to connect the two incidents as related.
I know that when I cycle I rarely do something to deliberately annoy someone else, but in the past I used to think that people were trying to wind me up. (There are exceptions, particularly a Chrysler Voyager driver who tried to cut me up after I had the temerity to put my cycle in the cycle space in front of him recently at the lights at the southern end of the Waterloo Road.) But when I reflect on the fact that I’m not trying to bother anyone else, I realise that it is rare for someone else to try and bother me.
I was reminded of this recently at the Peckham High Street toucan crossing on my way home one afternoon recently. Several people were crossing on foot in between the vehicles. As one group of women crossed a car driver hooted their horn. Without looking back I heard one of the women mutter ‘what is his problem?’ And as I had seen what was happening behind her, “it’s not about you,” I said, “the driver was waving to someone on the other side of the road.”
Seeing that brief and meaningless incident was a great reminder to me of how different the world is sometimes to how we experience it.