Bicycles, Life of Carmen, Politics & Activism, Uncategorized

Road rage

This is my fantasy of what goes through the mind of a car driver, when s/he glares at or physically or verbally abuses a cyclist:

There was a day not that long ago, when that driver went to Canadian Tire to buy a litre of oil…and his eye was caught by a shiny red mountain bike in a display rack outside the store. Suddenly he flashed back to the bike of his childhood: the joy, the speed, the freedom. And in that moment decided it was time to shed years of guilt and pounds of muffintop…he decided he would BUY that bike, and RIDE it all the time! Every day! And he would become a new cycling zealot, slimmer, sexier, and cooler. He would start having fun again. And he would feel righteous, self-righteous, knowing that he actually was making a small difference in the world. Because down inside, he knew he was part of the problem.

So he plunked down his credit card and paid the $250, and the checkout assistant helped take off the front wheel and load the bike into the back of the car (the bike was made of heavy Chinese steel, and weighed a ton). He proudly drove it home with all those shiny visions playing behind his eyes.

He unloaded the bike and put the wheel back on, and the next day he put on his track pants and went out for a spin – along Broadway, because he didn’t know where the bike routes were. A car whizzed by him and almost knocked him off, and the driver swore at him – and so he rode closer to the parking lane, and nearly got doored. The gears jammed every time he switched them, which wasn’t often, because he didn’t really know how to use them. The seat hurt his ass. And because the bike was actually too small for him and not properly adjusted, his knees and neck hurt. The fat knobby tires were hard to push down the street, and even on the downhill, he didn’t go very fast.

Nevertheless, the next Saturday, he tried again. This time he only rode for about ten minutes, then, sweating, turned around and pedalled home.

He rode the bike one more time a few weeks later. He got a flat tire. He walked the bike home and put it in the basement.

That red bike is still in the basement. It is covered with a thin layer of dust, and both tires are flat. When he goes into the basement he turns his head to avoid seeing that bike.

And now every time he sees a cyclist on the road he sees that dusty red bike in the basement. He feels guilty and angry, because he tried, and failed, adding that failure to the long list of other failures in his life. Every time he sees a cyclist he sees that red bicycle, and he is reminded of his own impotence, and all he can do is rage.

2 Comments on “Road rage

  1. This is very perceptive of you, Carmen. Unfortunately, you are right. The industry and the bike shops perpetuate this system of failure. The customers are misled, but, to be fair, it’s hard to teach them. I’ve tried to influence a number of people to buy better bikes, but it’s not easy. Mostly I’ve failed: they are already set on a price range and what a bike should look like, and it’s like moving a mountain to educate them.

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