I had a close encounter of the pedestrian kind the other day. A guy had started to cross the road and then stopped suddenly, before proceeding to walk backwards the way he’d just come – right into my path. Having managed to avoid hitting him, I politely suggested he might want to look where he’s going in the future.
He responded by swearing at me.
It’s not the first time this has happened – nor is it likely to be the last – and frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being sworn at by pedestrians when they were the ones at fault, not me. And so I’ve decided it’s time I got my own back, and I’m going to do that in the best way I know how – by writing about it in this blog.
And so, without further ado (and with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek), ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…the pedestrian’s guide to cyclists.
Rule no 1: If you can’t hear anything coming, that means there is nothing coming.
You know all that Green Cross Code stuff you learnt as a kid? Forget about it. Who needs to Stop and Look when you can just Listen?
Actually, you don’t even need to do that. You can just step out into the road and we’ll get out of your way – because all cyclists have a sixth sense that means we know what you’re going to do even before you do. Plus it gives us a chance to show off how well our brakes work.
Rule no 2: If a cyclist is doing something the rest of the traffic isn’t, that means they must be doing something wrong
There are times when we cyclists might think we’re allowed to do something a little bit different from other road users. Things like use a bus lane to bypass a set of traffic lights….or even just use a bus lane at all. Or use a marked cycle path to travel the opposite way along a one-way street, or to connect two otherwise disconnected streets (see below). Things like that.
We might think we’re allowed to do these things, but we’d be wrong. A cyclist couldn’t possibly be allowed to do anything the rest of the traffic isn’t doing. As a result we must therefore be breaking the law, which gives you the absolute right to step in front of us, swear at us or do anything you feel like to us.
Rule no 3: The golden rule – the cyclist is always wrong
We’re a menace. We run red lights. We ride on pavements, and the wrong way down one-way streets. We ride at night without lights or any reflective clothing.
Even if – at the precise moment you encounter us – we’ve done nothing wrong, we must have done in the past and undoubtedly will do in the future. Some kind of wrongdoing at some point has inevitably led us to be there, in your way, at that moment. So even if you’re the one who’s just stepped out in front of us without looking, it must be our fault so please swear at us. We are scum and must be reminded of this at every available opportunity, lest we get ideas above our station – like thinking we deserve our own separate path to cycle in.
Furthermore, cyclists are not individuals but are instead part of a collective pedalling brother- and sisterhood, all interconnected. We are all responsible for the actions of each other. So what if the cyclist you’ve just encountered was responsible and law-abiding? We must be punished for the sins our brethren have committed.
So go on. Shout at us. Swear at us. Threaten to hit us if you like. We are masochists and we like to be abused…I mean, why else would we cycle?