Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is perhaps one of the most iconic fictional fables of multiple or split personality disorder known to man. By day a mild mannered Englishman roams his town and by night he is a gruesome prowler of innocent souls (if you have never read the book it is quite gruesome--pick up a copy for bathroom reading). This tale published in the late 1800’s is about a man, that in today’s time, we would simply refer to as an “asshole.” Behold, a new era of Jekyll & Hyde’s roaming the earth in spandex, ventilated coordinating helmets, and special socks. Cyclists are assholes. STOP right there! Before you send me a nasty email challenging me on this assertion and before you tell me how you cycle and you are NOT an asshole, continue reading, please. (Then, you can send me an email).
Off the bike, I, like most red-blooded Americans, work a normal typical, average 9-5 job. I walk into an office building complete with cubicles, sip poor quality coffee, chat with people and complete 8-10 required duties as assigned according to my job description. Sometimes I exert myself beyond the required 10 bullet points and do a little something extra only because by day, I am a nice person. I do not mind doing a little extra. I engage in office chatter about people’s families, their children, their pets, occasional work drama/ gossip, job goals and sometimes not-so-intriguing conversations about cable shows that have no bearing in my life. My office is tattered with pictures from a night out with the girls (so typical, right?), a foot race, and a few more photos from a trip out west. From, 9-5, I am a nice person….come on it, sit down and help yourself to a piece of my candy. Here! Take two pieces!
Then sometime after work, put me on a bike….and well, like a fictional novel transformation I morph into an asshole. Right now, most of my rides are delegated to the park…the public park where EVERYONE in the city goes with their kids, dogs, strollers, skate boards, inline skates, and of course, bikes. I curse those that refuse to follow the rules. Whether is it the walker that insists on having a loud conversation about last night’s sexual encounter while refusing to move out of my way, the dog owner who looks around before walking off to leave behind a massive pile of steaming dog dung, or the “I CAN DO IT ALL POWER WALKING MOM” with the stroller, crying kids, and 2 dogs straying directly into my bike path, I find myself cursing them in distain and anger.
There have been verbal encounters including a lady who INSISTED on driving the wrong way on a one-way section of the park. Even after three pedestrians flagged her down, she continued on with her own kids in the backseat asking her to turn around. I was furious that day and I unloaded a slur of words that would have made a prison inmate blush and cry for his mom. Yet, another driver while on a ride, in a Dodge Charger, insisted on passing me while whistling and cat calling some graphic details of what he would like to do to my fine self. At the next stop sign, I found myself enraged that he just thought he could call out such things especially with children within earshot. When I tried to move him to an apology, he rolled up his window and bounded out of the park squealing his wheels to punctuate his masculinity.
It has NEVER been my intention to be rude or potentially abusive to park enthusiasts by any means. It is an issue of respect, safety, and general concern for others. I try and sometimes fail to be a quality cyclists obeying the laws, being considerate, avoiding crashes with canines, children, and the inline skate guy that comes down the hill backwards (uh, you might want to look behind you at some point). I expect that people, cars, and what have you will also show me the same respect and not try to run me over, slap my rear, or stand in my direct path. Honestly, descending a hill at 30mph, I cannot stop on a dime without ejecting myself into space and if you think I get angry when two dogs tied to a stroller walk in front of me, wait, until my mangled, gravel filled face recovers and finds you in the park….
Now you can say you are NOT this kind of person and in the fairness of science, I probably need to invent an asshole scale that would label the intensity of being an asshole on a bike (1 being a “mini asshole” and 10 being a “mammoth sphincter”). Admit it though, even if you only ride your cruiser bike to the farmer’s market for an organic brown egg omelet--- a car, a dog, or a child has jaunted out in front of you and you know it could have been prevented, if another person were paying better attention and being respectful. That scare of nearly sucking pavement made you mad. It’s okay, you do not have to say you are an asshole, you are obviously lower on the intensity scale, that’s all.