Reading on the Hamilton Spectator website about a recent hit-and-run on Upper Gage, where a motorist crashed into a cyclist and then took off, put me in mind of an almost-incident that happened to me last week.
On Thursday afternoon, a motorist tried to run me off the road - twice. I was riding south on Caroline between King and Main and a young driver in a sports coupe swerved in front of me and cut right, nearly running me into the snowbank. I yelled "Hey!" and waved at him (no swearing or bird-flipping: I've sworn off that mode of response since it always seems to make a bad situation worse).
Then he swerved right again, cutting off my route past him. I hit the brakes, wobbled ferociously, and had to jump off the bike to avoid falling.
Traffic came to a stop in front of him and I walked my bike past him. He honked at me and pointed toward the sidewalk. I shook my head sternly and pointed at the road in front of him. He honked again and mouthed an imprecation at me.
Because traffic was still blocked, I rode off ahead and left him far behind. Unfortunately, he's still on the road with a reckless misunderstanding of cyclists' right to be on the road (and his responsibility to share the road safely) and a dangerous sense of his own entitlement to claim 'his' territory at others' expense.
Fortunately, this story is notable because it's exceptional. The overwhelming majority of motorists, from my experience, simply mind their own business and allow me to mind mine. An occasional driver will yield the right of way to me in a kindhearted but arguably misguided - since safety depends so much on people behaving predictably - effort to be generous and accommodating; and a very occasional driver will be rude, aggressive, and hostile.
To the majority of civil drivers: you have my sincere appreciation.
To the small minority of drivers who stop to let me through when you have the right of way: I deeply appreciate your intentions, but the safest thing you can do for me is simply to treat me like another vehicle and drive accordingly.
To the tiny minority of drivers who think cyclist shouldn't be on the road: in your ignorance and arrogance, you're toying with vehicular manslaughter. Please acquaint yourself with the Highway Traffic Act and start to drive courteously and carefully. Someone's life may well depend on your decision not to use your car as a weapon.
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