I am writing this post as I never seem to have the right things to say to people when they have a go at me on the roads in a situation where I have not broken the law and because this incident really upset me - so I would like some advice for next time if I choose to engage with the person confronting me.

Today at lunch I was cycling back to the city from Glebe along Broadway in the bus lane until I passed UTS where I merged over to the middle lane so that at Central I would be in the correct lane to go straight in order to enter Pitt St. I did this because there were no other cars in the lane when I merged and because it is very hard to merge over in time further up as most cars don't want to let you across.

As I was waiting in my lane at the lights on the Broadway/Harris St I started getting beeped from behind and as we set off on the green towards the next red light the guy passed me waving his hands about. I waved back in a 'what?' manner and then regrettably as I was so annoyed waved my little finger (I try just to wave at people now and def do not give them worse but this time I was not so restrained).

At the lights he pulled over and wound his window down to invite me over to talk to him. I hesitated but drew up next to him and asked him why he was beeping at me telling him that the reason I was in the lane and not the far left lane was because I was going straight. He then started lecturing me that he wasn't asking me to be in the left lane but that I should be in the left of the lane I was in and that as a cyclist himself (3 times a week) I was giving cyclists a bad name. Though I was very tempted to enquire whether driving his bicycle to Centennial counted in this tally I held back. I told him that I was in the middle of the lane to protect myself from being swiped and that I was allowed by law to do so but he insisted that since I could stand next to him in the lane stationary we could also fit while moving. He did not seem to get my point that I had not held him up from one red light to another and that at this juncture I was taking the lane for safety before I would move more to the left once on Pitt St. He just kept on about me giving cyclists a bad name.

I am really upset and offended as I do everything possible to do the right thing by pedestrians, other cyclists and motorists. I only take the lane when it is the safest thing to do and not in a situation when I can stay left safely and let cars pass. In the CBD given the traffic and red lights taking the lane should not be an issue to motorists. I know he was an idiot but his very patronising and condescending lecture really upset me - would he have done this to a bloke? Usually when wearing my office clothes/skirt I get a remarkably low occurrence of road rage!

If you are reading this little bald man in your tiny silver 4wdrive thing - you stick to your riding style and I will stick to mine - as I said 'agree to disagree' but beeping and carrying on at cyclists just because you have ridden a bike too sends a worse message to other road users about cyclists legitimacy on the roads. I apologise for insinuating you had a small penis with my little finger - it was wrong to actually express my thoughts in this manner I agree, but your rudeness on the road and your condescending lecture only reaffirmed my initial thoughts.

So what should I have said?

Views: 85

Comment by Ma Dame Vélo on May 18, 2009 at 4:08pm
Naomi, you had every right to "take the lane" - and, just because you could stand beside his vehicle and still be inside the lane, does not mean you could do the same safely with other, wider, vehicles.

I don't think you can so much to those sort of people other than, when it comes to keeping yourself safe, the decision should be yours alone and that you were doing so within the law.
Comment by Freewheelin' Franklin on May 18, 2009 at 4:24pm
If he doesn't realise why you have to take a lane their, he hasn't ridden in traffic before, therefore his opinion as a "bike rider" is insignificant.
What it does though, is show that taking the lane kept you safe - he noticed you enough to gesticulate at you when he was driving past. I'd say - good result. even if it did get your heartrate up.

The other thing you could have done is wiggle your little finger near your helmet... so that he gets the idea that his is on his head, and continuously while having the conversation :)
Comment by Susan on May 18, 2009 at 4:27pm
Hi Naomi,

Hope your ok after your encounter, sounds like no fun.

You were totally in the right and really go out of your way to be friendly to people and super encouraging on and off your bike. My guess is the bald guy just wanted to exert his non existent authority and try to make out he was a better cyclist than you cause he rode 3 times a week!

You should have asked him to do an Audax ride with you and then see him run away in fear from riding more than a few km's on his tri weekly ride.
Comment by Colin on May 18, 2009 at 5:17pm
People that beep at you in traffic when you're not doing anything wrong are the least likely people in the world to be persuaded about safe cycling techniques. I'd like to think there was something you could say that was so unexpected, so left field, that it would cut through the self-righteous ignorance, but I don't know what it is.

How about "It's pretty ironic that you're complaining about me taking up the lane when it's you who's driving the big wide vehicle!"
Comment by Tony Arnold on May 18, 2009 at 5:57pm
Remember that bike sales now outstrip car sales, so every second person owns a bike now. There are more and more self-appointed experts with 3 months riding experience out there (and even more motorists with no riding experience who will happily tell you how you should ride).

What about saying: "So what if you OWN a bike. I could OWN a violin but it doesn't mean I know how to use it!"
Comment by Duncan on May 18, 2009 at 5:57pm

IMHO, you were right, he was wrong. Don't take it personally.
Comment by naomi on May 18, 2009 at 6:23pm
I know - I always take these things personally when I shouldn't and though I know it will probably never happen that I can change someone's mind I am always left feeling like I could have done things differently - some good tips here thanks!

May his drive home today be full of traffic jams and red lights;)
Comment by Freewheelin' Franklin on May 18, 2009 at 6:53pm
yeah! cyber bullying!

would pc be grilled, baked, bbq'd, sauteed, fried or what?
Comment by Kim on May 18, 2009 at 7:09pm
There are alot of 'cyclists' out there who don't ride in traffic and have no concept of how to ride safely in traffic. I have often talked about the horrendous instructor who was doing the 'advance bike riding' course at the very first Gear Up Girl course. He was a road cyclist but he told us all that it was dangerous to ride on the roads with cars and that the only riding he does is on Sunday mornings when there is no traffic on the road and that we should consider doing the same. He also had no idea about the road rules for cyclists which was pretty pathetic. To say that most of the women in the course were really disgusted by him is an understatement and we certainly let it known to the organisers of our feelings.

It just goes to show that people who consider themselves as 'cyclists' often have no idea what it is like to be commuters or ride in traffic.

You were completely in the right. Perhaps his wife left him this morning and he had no one else to abuse but an innocent cyclist.
Comment by Charlotte on May 18, 2009 at 7:23pm
So next time I see a motor vehicle doing something wrong (even though you were by no means doing anything wrong) can I pull them over on my bike and tell them that 'I also drive sometimes' that I think their driving gives drivers a bad name?? hrmmph... what a load of s%*te!

I'd like to see him ride in the city without taking the lane - and not to get squashed in the mad rush to the next red light! Perhaps that's what you should have done... asks for his number and arranged a time for him to show you how its done.. LOL


You need to be a member of Sydney Cyclist to add comments!

Join Sydney Cyclist

© 2019   Created by DamianM.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service