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Road Rage

This is cross-posted with the toronto community (mostly so I can go back and see the comments easier *grin!*).

Monday evening, I was biking home after class. It was raining lightly, but I'd come prepared. If you want to see how prepared, click here. On top of my rain gear, I also had my lights (front and rear) blinking and I was being as cautious as always.

Because of that, I wasn't expecting what happened next.

A white van with some kind of business advertising on the side drove by. The passenger, window open, leaned out and yelled "GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!" I thought to myself, "Huh. That was pretty rude and unnecessary."

Now, I've learned many lessons about bicycle safety over the last half of the year, especially while working as a courier over the summer. I know all the proper hand signals, the rules and laws of the road, etc. Most importantly, I'm courteous towards drivers. I know that a bicyclist can be a pain in the ass, so I try to give them as much breathing room as possible. If a driver lets me pass while they're waiting at a perpendicular street, I always nod, wave, salute or just nod my head and mouth "Thank you." When I'm at a stoplight at a busy intersection and there's multiple lanes, including a lane on the far right for right turns, I stay on the left side of that lane to indicate going straight. In fact, I'll even turn to the driver in that right lane and motion to ask if they're going right or straight.

So, to hear something like "GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!" made me wonder what it was that I did wrong.

As luck would have it, at the corner of Keele and Sheppard, the van stopped at a red light. Since I had some time before it would turn red, I decided to confront them. I pulled up alongside the van and noticed the passenger window still open. I firmly said to him, "I'm sorry, but I didn't quite catch what you said there!"

The driver, the angrier of the two, shouted "I SAID GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD!" His calmer passenger repeated it with a "Why don't you get off the fucking road?"

I couldn't stay calm after that. I said, "Look, I have as much right to be on this road as you guys, do. I'm following the rules, I'm wearing all this reflective gear and I've got these blinking lights."

The driver responded, "Yeah, but you were swerving all over the place! You were way over on the left side of the lane!"

"I definitely was not!" I yelled back. "I make sure that I'm way over on the right where I'm supposed to be!" In retrospect, the worst that I might have done was briefly swerve to avoid giant puddles or bumps or dips in the road from drainage gates.

"Well, you should still get off the fucking road!" the driver yelled.

His passenger held up his hand to try, saying "Let me talk to him, okay?" and then to me, "Look, just bike on the sidewalk, okay?"

Yeah, that didn't go over well with me. "Bike on the sidewalk? Do you know that that's illegal for me to do? That I would get a ticket if I biked on the sidewalk? So, basically, you want me to continually get tickets just so you can be happy? Fuck you, guys!" From there, I biked away and kept on my route going south on Keele.

That was my first run in with someone who actually yelled at me for being on the road. I've been yelled at for being on the sidewalk during times when I was briefly on them to lock up my bike. At in that case, they're well within their right. But to yell at me for being on the road where I belong? That's ridiculous. I'd like to consider myself one of the more empathic cyclists, knowing that I can be a slow pain in the ass compared to a motor vehicle. It's drivers like that that make me understand why other cyclists don't bother with being considerate.

I should not that I think it's somewhat hilarious that, after all that time and energy they spent telling me to get off the road...that they were going straight, not turning right onto Keele. They weren't even remotely in the same lane as I was in the first place.