When I tell someone what I do for a living, they almost always want to have the argument about how couriers all jump red lights, and are a bad influence on other cyclists, and a mortal danger to innocent pedestrians. If I try to protest, they tell me about how they were very nearly run over by a cycle courier once. It’s an conversation I have all too regularly, and I find it both highly frustrating and deeply boring.
But isn’t it true that couriers are, by and large, dangerous hooligans with little regard for the law and less for the lights, who will run you down as soon as look at you?
See what you think.
I was heading north on Red Lion Street yesterday afternoon, when a woman stepped off the pavement, about two feet in front of me, without looking. I managed to swerve round her and, in a fairly conversational tone, said:
“Careful – look where you’re going!”
The man she was with gave me a filthy look.
“You look where you’re going!” he retorted, and muttered “How cheeky!” to his companion as they strode off. He sounded appalled, as though I’d said something disgustingly rude to him and he couldn’t quite believe my audacity. I didn’t get the chance to point out that they were bloody lucky I had been looking where I was going. And where they were going too.
A couple of months ago I was accelerating through a green light when, at the last minute, a fairly elderly gentleman began to amble across the road, straight into my path. I yelled “hey – hey! – HEY!” and braked for all I was worth. He finally spotted me, panicked and luckily managed to flinch in the right direction. My front wheel missed his feet by mere centimetres.
“Stop at the lights!” he squeaked, in absolute outrage.
I managed to swivel round to check as I sped off. The lights were still green. He hadn’t even bothered to look.
He sounded like he’d just had the fright of his life. He was probably back in his office within minutes, being asked why he was so pale and shaky, and telling the tale of the hooligan cycle courier who’d jumped the lights and come within inches of running him down.
Just before Christmas, I was riding along King William Street when a man stepped out from between two cars. He wasn’t looking where he was going – he was texting someone on his mobile phone. There wasn’t enough room to brake or swerve, so I went straight into him. He managed to remain upright – I ended up sprawled on the road, with a nasty bump to the head, that left me dizzy for the rest of the morning.
Luckily he was kind, and stopped to check I was OK. I suppose he didn’t have a choice really – there were so many witnesses that he couldn’t have got away with legging it. He apologized, and explained that he was on his way to a job interview, and had been checking its location on his phone when he stepped out in front of me. And although he did seem genuinely concerned about my head, he was also clearly desperate to get away, so in the end I let him go.
And I’m pretty sure that he didn’t walk into the interview and say “sorry I’m late – I just knocked a girl off her bike.”
He’s much more likely to have said “sorry I’m late – I was just hit by a cycle courier”, and the woman interviewing him will have tutted and sympathized, and perhaps even commented on what a menace these couriers are, and how someone really ought to do something.