Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Jay driving & jay biking

Did you know the term "jaywalking" came from the term "jay driving," which used to mean driving with no regard for the rules, on the wrong side of the road or through a stop sign? It came from back when driving rules were a lot looser, because there weren't so many drivers, so your Model T could rattle along wherever it wanted. I think I ran into a case of "jay biking" last night, and I think that the same pattern applies.

On my way home last night down Montreal Road, I found myself on a collision course with a guy on a bike, heading straight up the street on the wrong side of the road.

My bullheaded and less-well-considered side held on for a good long while, and it became something of a game of chicken. I knew I was in the right, and he was in the wrong. I saw him coming and thought to myself, well, dammit, he's wrong, it's his job to clear out of my way.

So I kept going. He may have been thinking something the same - something like 'stupid bitch get out of my way' - possibly with that added edge of having nowhere to duck out to: he couldn't hop the curb onto the sidewalk, and swerving to his right would have sent him into an oncoming car. It was like a showdown at high noon. If I'd filmed it, I'd do it in very high-speed cuts from extreme closeup of my eyes, to extreme closeup of his.

In the end, I think we both actually swerved, but I'd like to think he swerved more. And I yelled, "Hi! Wrong side of the ROAD!" at him as I passed.

I think I heard him yell something back at me, but without the force of conviction he might have had, had he been anything but dead wrong.

I can be okay with a little rule-bending. On back streets, where there are no cars around, and where it won't harm anyone else. But who thinks it's smart to bike up the wrong side of the road on a busy street like Montreal? It makes me think maybe he's not used to there being other people out there on bikes. But as the cyclist population goes up - and it is: I can tell just from the fact that lately, I've noticed the morning weather report people on CBC saying things like "the wind's very light, which is good news if you're cycling to work" - more and more people are just going to have to change how they bike. It's like back when the car was first introduced. At first, the rules were just guidelines. Then there were so many cars the rules became hard and fast. I think we may see the same thing happen if the increase of bikes on the road continues.

1 comment:

  1. Damn! Woulda been a cooler game of chicken if it was something like out of Akira; you being Kaneda and the other fool being Joker. You skim past each other and he wipes out onto his shoulder hehe

    Nice bike-by shouting by the way. I'll bet he thought his retort was pretty witty, despite garbled.