So I have some theories about the car-bike relationship and they’re connected to some views I have about gender and niceness. I’m still thinking about this but hear me out.
On our worse bike ride ever–hate you, cottage country drivers–Sarah and I were yelled at and honked at. It was unpleasant. But as unpleasant as it was I don’t think it was particularly dangerous. Those drivers could see us. They hated us. They were angry about something. But we were on their radar.
I think drivers are a real danger to cyclists when they don’t see us. In tests of recognition on the road, self-driving smart cars are much better at noticing people on bikes than human drivers are at noticing cyclists. Drivers don’t hate us. But, with some very rare road rage exceptions, they hit us when they aren’t aware we’re there. The assholes don’t want to kill us. They wish we weren’t there. But they see us. That’s an important difference.
I know lots of women who are scared of the honking and yelling drivers. Usually they’re men and women have extra good reasons for being fearful of men who are yelling at them. I talked to a woman who wouldn’t use the bike box on Wortley Road in London, Ontario because she said it annoyed drivers and was scared they’d run her over. I agreed that people in cars might be annoyed by bike boxes. But I disagreed they’d ever deliberately run her over because of that. Instead, this fearful cyclist huddles against the right curb at the intersection. That’s far more dangerous than using the bike box. You’re far better off annoying people. It’s okay to piss people off if your safety depends on it.
I got in an accident that sent me to hospital because I was trying to be nice to drivers. I moved right to let them pass and hit a pothole.
I don’t do that any more. I take the lane.
I know I annoy drivers when I do this and sometimes they yell at me. But it’s not anger that kills cyclists. It’s inattention. I worry a lot more about someone who is on their phone than I do about someone who is yelling at me.
I worry that women hate being yelled at and are fearful of anger. But I don’t think that serves us so well as cyclists.
Stop being so nice. Annoy people. Be visible. That’s my two cents.
What do you think?