Another ride, another brush with infirmity

I have been doing very little urban bike riding of late – no commutes. So I’ve been able to pick the time of day and my routes in order to avoid traffic.

But yesterday and today I’ve been obliged to run some errands, i.e. to actually cycle from A to B with intent, and perform activities upon arrival.

I had forgotten how aggressive and selfish some (not all) drivers can be: today two self-entitled middle-aged women thought it judicious to squeeze past me at the St.Joseph / St.Laurent intersection, then cut me off as they pulled to an abrupt halt at the red light, waiting to turn right.

Let me restate this. The light was red. I was cycling up to this red light, about 15 to 20m away. The road has three lanes. Two to go straight ahead, one to turn right. I was going straight, so was on the right of the middle lane. Rather than wait behind me, slowly approach the red light at 15km an hour (my approximate speed), then stop and wait (the light was red), they both chose to narrowly overtake me on my left, then swerve across me into the right lane.

They were driving ‘together’ – following each other – and maybe trying to impress each other with their macho antics (small blue cars – Nissan Micra type that looked as if they were from the same car pool – but their drivers had over-sized imaginations).

Having survived their dangerous driving, I pointed out to the second driver (the one at the rear, who had swerved closest, since the space to swerve was getting shorter), how close she had been, merely by stopping and showing a narrow space between my two hands (not between two fingers, nor even one!). The grey-haired semi-professional looking lady in the first car wound down her window and started yelling at me. Macho dickhead is a term that comes to mind, but which is unfair to men in this case. Anyway, one doesn’t cease to be an idiot once one’s car has stopped.

No wonder many people choose not to cycle (or to walk, for that matter) despite how much better it is for one’s health (if one survives, that is) and for the environment … and electric cars, of dubious environmental benefit, will do bugger all to stop idiots being behind their wheels!

Published by Richard Shearmur

I am a professor at McGill's School of Urban Planning. I perform research on innovation, on how we locate work activities (in a world where people often work from many places), and on urban and regional economic geography. I used to work in real-estate, and teach a course on this. I am an urban planner, member of the Ordre des Urbanistes du Québec and of the Canadian institute of Planners.

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