Citizen-Times.com (Asheville, NC) has a report today about a shooting incident between a motorist and a cyclist, a cyclist who at the time of the incident was riding with his significant other and a child in a bike seat. The utter absurdity of things like this leave me absolutely speechless. But speechlessness is an inadequate and unsatisfactory response, so that in turn makes me frustrated and angry. Reading the comments posted in response to the article certainly didn’t help.
Yesterday, at the intersection of Siena Heights Drive and North Main/MI-52, while I was waiting to make a left-hand turn, some ignorant, inconsiderate tool in an old, charcoal grey van, called me a “retard” as he passed by me on the right. I hadn’t detained or inconvenienced him in any way whatsoever, yet he felt compelled to deride me for no apparent reason. (To be sure, there were reasons, whether he was aware of them or not, and I’m sure most of my readers could hazard at a guess at what some of them may have been. But none of them were “justifiable” reasons.) What a prig. Unfortunately, appropriate and sometimes even more noble responses to such situations invariably come to my mind only after the fact (a personal trait that I really despise but rarely seem capable of transcending). In the moment, the best I could come up with was to give him the finger, a gesture he promptly returned in kind.
I left agitated, unnerved, embarrassed, chagrined, and deeply disappointed in myself. In my anger, I foolishly risked escalating the situation, and I acted in a manner that, in the long run, will reflect poorly on the cycling community and only further marginalize it. Despite the fact that it was the driver who first acted like an idiot, it will be my actions that are remembered. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply I hate that. And yet, what probably gets to me most is the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that, no matter the circumstances, “turning the other cheek” is the only suitable first response, while at the same time we persistently pursue a better way with unwavering vigilance, indefatigable advocacy, and unrelenting commitment.