Ok, maybe it’s tough to be a cyclist anywhere but it’s all for the same reason:
Everyone hates cyclists.
With reason, too. I’m a cyclist, and I hate cyclists. The problem lies in being a RESPECTFUL cyclist, (which I like to think I am) who nevertheless has to deal with the bum wrap created by all those other spandex-wearing douchebags who spoil it for everyone. Let me first state a few facts:
1) I obey traffic rules, including red lights even when no one is around.
2) I yield to pedestrians.
3) I use hand signals and do NOT drive in the middle lane; I drive on the right side where I’m supposed to be. I do NOT drive on sidewalks but when I have to use one, I get OFF my bike.
4) I drive at a decent pace, don’t burn yellows, nor do I cut people off or pass them unless I have ample space to do so.
So in all, I think i’m a reasonable, well-mannered cyclist. That being said, another fact is: The only problems I’ve ever encountered while riding my bike were NOT in fact related to motorists… but rather, because of OTHER CYCLISTS being complete assholes:
1) I’ve been cut off so dangerously close to oncoming bike traffic that I’ve had to pull off to the side and catch my breath.
2) I’ve been ding-ed at (since most bikers don’t have horns) because I was STOPPED at a red light.
3) I’ve been bullied onto the sidewalk by passing spandex-hoardes taking up all the space because their elastic asses obviously entitle them to the entire lane.
4) I’ve seen cyclists cut off cars, weave in and out of traffic in lanes they have no business being in, and generally cause congestion on the roads.
5) I’ve seen cyclists cut-off pedestrians even though they did NOT have the right of way. (I’m talking asshole bowling over an old lady at a crosswalk kind of behavior.)
6) I’ve seen cyclists driving on the SIDEWALK, causing chaos for pedestrians, even though there are perfectly good bikepaths mere blocks away.
As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to be EXTRA courteous to others while I bike, most notably cars, because most patrons of my particular vehicle of choice are a bunch of self-righteous douchebags of the worst sort and I have a lot of bad karma to make up for. Sure, there a lot of bad motorists out there. Impatient, dangerous and impulsive… but since my current experience as a Montreal cyclist has only cemented why those pissed off motorists are RIGHT, I can’t really say I blame them.
But being courteous to cars, however, doesn’t seem to mesh well with bike culture here. Stopping at stop signs is regarded as annoying on the bike path… not to mention infuriating while all the other entitled rubber burners blow right through. So in short, the cars already hate me, and my brethren hate me for trying to make up for their bad behavior.
… so why bike?
Luckily, the positive side of bike culture has a lot to offer. It’s ecological, healthy, and there’s something about zooming past the Lachine Canal at 8 in the morning through a warm breeze, that’s more refreshing than even the most potent cup of Joe. I feel more fit, as my commute is about 45 minutes each way… not to mention that what with Montreal’s current objective of attaining “World’s Most Unreliable Transport System” status, it’s the best thing going, just to get to work on time.
Still, I think most cyclists could use a refresher course on simple manners. Yeah, I know squeezing your body into a condom-like get-up without seeming like a sausage certainly earns you some prestige. I mean shit, look at those quads and WOW, your bike is lighter than my backpack on most days. You’re clearly special. But honestly, that won’t mean diddly-squat when some road-raging car-driver decides to test just how steely those glistening thighs are with its bumper, because you thought your taught, padded ass was more important.