Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another hollaback

I did actually shout back, this time. But it's still pretty frustrating that when things like this happen, there's nothing you can really do about it.

I was on my way down Bronson Avenue this morning on a fairly wet, misty day. Bronson was jammed with cars - I guess because of construction in the Glebe forcing cars off Bank Street - and I was rolling along trying to strike that balance between staying to the right and trying not to hit the potholes. And around Carling this carload of young men - somewhere in their early twenties - rolled up past me, and they did that thing where they shout out the window to try and make the cyclist jump. Maybe even - hyuk hyuk - fall over. I looked up, but I pride myself I didn't really flinch that much, although they did keep making barking sorts of noises out of the car at me. Traffic was slow enough that they couldn't just speed past, and before I knew it, I was saying, in absolute disdain and annoyance, "Oh, fuck off." They laughed. I have to point out that if you were casting actors to play young, stupid jocks in an SUV, you would have cast these guys. Blond, short-haired, muscular, stereotypical football-team types listening to techno and smoking out the windows of the car. Right out of a high school movie.

They laughed, and you know just what their laughter sounded like, and kept sort of leaning out the windows to look at me as I pedaled along and they paced me in the car, for about two blocks. Just when I was about to look up and point out to them that if they kept driving along right beside me like that, I was going to call them in for harassing me, they pulled ahead: I caught up to them again at a light (refusing to let them intimidate me into changing course or avoiding them), and they leaned back out the windows, looked at me, laughed and talked among themselves, but didn't actually say anything. They did, however, wait for me to draw even with them, and then paced me, again, for another half block, at which point I said, "Just keep rolling, guys," and they did pull away, although it probably wasn't because of me. It was probably because they were holding up traffic.

What bugged me about it was that I didn't get the license plate. My phone was dead anyway. And there was no real way to respond to them that they wouldn't have been amused by: anger would amuse them. Fear would amuse them. Even my "Oh, fuck off" probably amused them, although the ease and disdain with which it came out made me feel a little better. There is no way to win. I shouldn't even waste the energy on being annoyed with them. But it is hard to accept the existence of idiots.

Here, guys: here's a song for you.


  1. I hate hate hate that. Of course, it happens to women on the road way more than men.

  2. Saturday morning was Glebe garbage sale.

    My friend has a helmet cam when he bikes - if you had one of those on - this would be a much better outcome and some great youtube video.

    Have you got a description of the car and time of day - I will keep my eye out cause I'm always going down Bronson...

    They will keep doing this until someone gets hurt.

  3. Sorry to hear about that, I actually haven't had that happen for a while. I was harassed by those teenagers who wanted a smoke though ;-)

  4. Often I find taking out the phone and either taking a photo or pretending to take one moves idiots along rather efficiently.

  5. I only get harassed about the spandex stuff. I always go on the attact and tease them about how they are going out of their way to notice, follow and comment on men in spandex. It takes them a minute to process but they finally clue in and drive away. Knuckleheads.

  6. You handled it really well. I wish I could maintain such composure!

  7. Universally, they drive off in the end.

    Two weeks ago, I was going north on Bank St. through the Glebe. This guy in a black pickup just leaned on the horn the whole way, yelling and swearing at me. Things like "what? you think you're a vehicle?". It was all bumper-to-bumper traffic, and it was actually a bit fun to have easily kept up with him between Fifth and Catherine. A woman in a car behind him followed me and said she'd vouch for me when I complained to police. That kind of report would never go anywhere, however...

    On the Gatineau Parkway on Sunday, I got mooned. It was really poorly executed. I think they were thinking it would surprise me, and then they accelerated too quickly and all I caught was the left side of guy awkwardly hanging his ass out of a window. I laughed, actually.

  8. Ahhh ha ha... A poorly executed drive-by mooning. That made me laugh out loud, thanks!

    The guy in the truck, though, yeesh. Don't know what I'd do in that situation. Although, yeah... it *is* really gratifying to be going just as fast, or faster, than those tools, isn't it?

  9. I yelled back today. As i rode with my son along Bank street, I was yelled at by a woman in the back seat of a beat up old car: "hey idiot, they make bike seats you know!". My son was in a seat the I had a friend bring back from Denmark. I own a number of bike seats and have not found any that are as well designed and safe as this one. It mounts on the top tube and kind of looks like a metal bowl with a belt in it.
    What I find so irritating is that this woman, and the 3 other people in the car were overweight, not particularly observant and had clearly not been on a bike in at least 30 years. That they should feel entitled to yell at me and call me an idiot is really bizarre. Is it because they feel that as car drivers-passengers, they feel they have a right not only to the road but to their uninformed opinions?
    When I caught them and knocked on the window, she pretended she didn't see me. Again, pretty silly to think that the cyclist would not catch up to you at the next light.
    Anyway, I yelled at her and said things I should not have in front of my 3 yr old son.