Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's always the big black pickups.

So I needed to get across the road this morning, just near Saint Margaret's on Montreal Road. I'd been working on the south side of the street, and needed to get to the north side to ride downtown. I walked the bike down to the corner and pushed the button for the crosswalk. Waiting for my light to change, I spotted a big pickup, across the street, apparently waiting for the light to turn left. I think I noticed him because he was edging up, anticipating the light. While waiting, I got on the bike: why not?

When the walk sign came on, I started across the crosswalk, and the truck started his left turn, at speed, as though I wasn't even there. I looked up and saw its huge grill coming for me. "Jesus, buddy!" I yelled, as I swerved to try and stay clear of him. He gunned it through the intersection - I got enough of a look to see his dog looking out the open window at me, so this time, just this once, I can assume the driver heard me yell.

I got across the crosswalk and pulled up so I was parallel with the curb, ready to head west, waiting for the light to turn green. "It's one way," I heard someone saying behind me. Not sure what he was talking about, I didn't answer. So he walked up to me, and repeated himself. "It's one way, there."

"What is?" I asked, totally confused.

"That street's one way," he said, and pointed at the street whose corner I'd been standing on waiting for the light. Now, partly I was annoyed that he felt like it was his place to justify the truck driver's assholish behaviour, but also that he had only looked up when I shouted, had no idea what had actually happened, and still thought he'd scold me for something I hadn't done.

"I didn't come from there. I was at the crosswalk." The guy didn't seem to understand, so I gestured at the clearly painted crosswalk. "He saw me waiting. I was never on that street." The guy shrugged, in a what-the-hell, I-don't-care kind of way, and the light was green anyway, and I pedaled off.

I guess it bugged me because the guy assumed he knew what had happened ('stupid crazy cyclist ignoring the rules and just riding wherever she wants.') And also, sure, legally I shouldn't have ridden across the crosswalk, although I'm pretty sure the truck driver would have pulled the same shit had I been on foot. But it really rankled that this other guy thought that, even if I was in the wrong, it was okay for someone to 'teach me a lesson' with an F-150. That someone in a truck that size is allowed to think, "Well, I'm supposed to be driving here, and if you get in my way it's your fault."

I really wish I had the courage, one of these times, to just stop in the middle of the intersection when someone is driving like a bully in that way. Just stop. In front of them. But of course I don't: I scurry out of the way of their great big powermobile. And I bet they love it.


  1. Of course! I'm starting to think that the percentage of trucks that are painted black has to be really large. Well, like the trucks. And you have to be careful, you might think you're stopping to make a point and that person just might not see you for other reasons. That would be bad.

    2 black trucks in one day http://www.bikeview.ca/2011/09/20/out-to-get-me-today/

  2. Here's how drivers should treat cyclists:


  3. People are angry today I think. All I say if they hit me on my bike they better make it good, because if I can up, they are in big trouble. nuff said.

    1. That was me that said that. I havent quite figured out how to enter with my name.

      John *hi kate! *

  4. Kate:

    I understand what you did and there is no excuse for the truck driver, but you should have been walking the bike in the crosswalk. Riding in the crosswalk and "salmoning" would both technically be traffic offenses. You cannot have it both ways.

  5. "But of course I don't: I scurry out of the way of their great big powermobile. And I bet they love it."

    This is the smart decision.

    You won't prove a point by getting killed and landing the stupid driver a measly $200 ticket. That bystander would stand before the court and swear that you came up the one-way in the wrong direction and the Sun would publish another article exposing the dangers of cycling on roads that belong to cars.


  6. That thing you said you want to do? Yeah, I actually did that tonight, and there's a certain satisfaction if you're lucky enough to pull it off right. I was walking at a brisk pace and got to the crosswalk while the white man was still up. A guy in a white pickup was stopped in the curb lane, nose poking into my crosswalk well past the stop line (this is the NW corner of Bronson and Gladstone, I was crossing toward the east. The stop line is a car length or so behind the crosswalk due to the skew in the road).

    I didn't want to interrupt my pace, and I didn't know for certain what he would do, so stopping and waiting could have just made me miss the light with him doing nothing. I was in a hurry and surely didn't want to wait a full cycle for next light. So I continued apace into the intersection as was my right to do. (That is, I didn't just leap into speeding traffic)

    He wasn't creeping at all yet, but he was definitely positioned for a right turn on red, looking intently at the westbound traffic competing for his inbound lane. So I knew that there was still a chance he'd have the sense to make sure the way was clear before he went. I also knew that because he was fully stopped and so close to the crosswalk (I walked maybe a foot or two in front of him), he would be unlikely to be able to accelerate fast enough, especially around that tight corner, to cause me any serious injuries if he did hit me.

    Sure enough, eyes still glued to the eastbound lane, he started to move. I used my "outside voice" to deliver a quick, firm, angry yell. He stopped (with room to spare) and made some sort of apologetic gesture, probably frightened and surprised by the yell. I still never broke my pace, but as I continued I glared firmly at him until my neck could turn no further.

    I hope he remembers this the next time he thinks about cutting corners on the road. I hope he suffered mild shock at the thought that he could have seriously injured someone by his inattention, which he would have if it were anyone crossing and not paying attention and a voice loud enough. I'm sure my piercing, silent scowl conveyed to him that if his little oversight caused him to hit ME, he sure as hell wouldn't be getting out of it with an "oops, sorry". This is the fear that every driver should have when driving near pedestrians. In some countries, this responsibility and respect for vulnerable road users has been ingrained in the culture; here it's literally an afterthought that causes fear when a motorist is confronted by it.

    A driver intimidated by a pedestrian. How's that for a change