Every now and then, someone on a cycling forum will comment that London’s drivers seems extra-specially homicidal today, and someone else will opine that it has something to do with the moon’s phases – suggesting that motorists suffer from some sort of synchronized PMT.
Now I don’t know about that, but I had far more cause to shout at people today than I normally do. The first culprit was a chap who undertook me, and then promptly swerved across my path – and when I tried to take it up with him politely at the next lights, launched into a lecture about how I was far too far out from the kerb. Now, I’m always trying to improve my cycling, and to avoid doing things that might piss off other road users (and I have recently started hugging the kerb a bit more – because I don’t trust other cyclists not to try and undertake me, and also because I know now annoying it is when you’re trying to overtake someone and they haven’t left enough room to their right), so I might have been willing to accept that as constructive criticism, but his patronizing tone, and convenient amnesia as regards the second part of his misdemeanour, left me fuming so much that by the time I’d formulated a suitably scathing put-down, he’d turned off and the opportunity was lost. (Thankfully.)
And then there was the woman crossing against the lights who had the nerve to tell me I was ‘stupid’ for riding through them. She got off lightly – I told her to “learn to cross the road!” And the bloke pointlessly cycling along a very narrow and crowded pavement, whom I shouted at when he bumped into me (I was being a good cyclist, and pushing my bike). I had the pleasure of seeing him stopped by a policeman just round the corner. And throughout the day there were all the usual iPodestrians and people on their mobiles, not looking both ways till they’re halfway across the road, by which time it’s far too late. And by late afternoon, when the strain of a long week was beginning to tell, a chap crossed in front of me as I was slowing down for some lights. It was a near miss, but I was going so slowly that it barely mattered, so I just said “Oop – careful!” in a fairly lighthearted tone – to which he responded with a volley of invective so obscene that I’m actually uncomfortable writing it.
So I gave him the finger. And immediately wished I hadn’t. Because that’s what people do when they can’t think of a suitably witty or scathing response. And it made me look like a hooligan, rather than the nice young lady my initial remark might have painted me as. And it dragged me down to his level, and probably confirmed all his suspicions. I think it was at least partly this regret that meant I was almost in tears as I rode away. That, and the cumulative exhaustion of a hard week. Oh, and my hormones. Because I actually am premenstrual – and now can’t help but wonder whether I’ve somehow been projecting this onto all the other road users. Hmmm.
(But the day ended well – I was given a very urgent package on Newgate Street EC1, and told it absolutely had to be delivered to Capper Street WC1 by 5.30 (or the nice postroom guy would lose his job), and it was currently 4.59, and I had another drop on the north end of Goswell Road. But I rode up (and down) central London’s biggest hill faster than I ever have before, and managed both drops within 20 minutes. Perhaps this will make up for some of my other misdemeanours.)