Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Get on your own fecking bike you joker

Taking advantage of the sunshine and not having to do the childminder run, I cycled to work. It's a fair distance, which is why I don't do this on ordinary days. Half way, while passing the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen (which is a bit of an overstatement at the best of times), a beer bellied man shouts at me:

"Get on your bike! hahaha".

My reaction? Inwardly fuming, outwardly ignoring. Very tempted to retort something along the lines that it would do his belly some good if indeed he got on his bike now and again.

The worrying bit is that this is not an unusual occurence. I've blogged about it before. Hubby the other day was actually pushed off his bike by a pedestrian at rush hour (no car passing fortunately) and, miracle, the police were just there to see it. I simply don't quite get why people feel the urge to attack cyclists who don't cause noise or CO2 polution, who don't kill and keep healthy, thus saving the tax payer lots of dosh.

However, there's a difference in the abuse I receive very regularly. I rarely get pushed off my bike, but I hear the exact same sentence quoted above a lot, with ridiculing laughter added to this. (Mind you I also get swear word abuse from car drivers in rush hour fury, possibly fuelled by jealousy that I'm moving when they're not). What is there to ridicule? So I investigated and my current field research result (cough cough, I asked my fellow cycling colleagues) tells me that this kind of abuse is directed from man to cycling lady. Which to me means it's sexist.

If you look at cycling patterns and indeed, barriers to cycling in Glasgow, it will strike you that there aren't many female cyclists. There are more female cyclists than there used to be, but we are still very much in the minority. Ask the ladies why they don't cycle and you get these answers: they don't feel safe because they have to share a lane with buses and taxis, or even the general traffic. They haven't the confidence to cycle in city traffic. The weather. Having to maintain a bike and deal with punctures and not having the knowledge how to do this.

So if a woman overcomes all of this and spites the Glasgow rain, maybe just having gathered all her confidence in braving the roads, the last she needs is this kind of abuse.

But how to react? I hate to just let it pass. Yet I'm lost as to a strategy that will work. I could confront and retort the abuse: "You fat ignorant bastard, the last laugh will be on me when you die of heart failure in 5 years time". I could lecture him about the joys of cycling and get to work late. I could carry a bucket of water just in case and pour it right over his head.

Somehow, I haven't found the proper approach for converting the hopeless in the space of one sentence uttered in passing?


zooarchaeologist said...

I find phrases like 'stop looking at my bottom you perv' and 'your flies are undone' always seem to floor men who think they are being hilarious. I worked on a site with a load of roadbuilders/ diggers. I was the expert who was holding their work up. When I appeared they asked if I was there to make the tea. Oh how i laughed.
I think you are very brave to cycle. I gave up when I had a horrid accident and a group of chav girls stood over me and laughed.

The wife of bold said...

What horrible people there are out there, i'm not a cyclist, (could probably do with the exercise though) but your experience has astounded me and your poor husband too. I am shocked but don't let these ignorant people deter you, you should be applauded not ridiculed x

InfertileNaomi said...

cycling in the city is very scary sometimes. But I do it anyways!

Anonymous said...

I'm the hubby, shoved, but not knocked off. Men get this too, though less often perhaps; yet perhaps too, more violently; actually what I most often get is a loud "Aaaaaaahhh" screamed at me just as I pass. My tactic is complete ignorance; I know there are pros and cons, but I've got to go places; and I don't give fuel to their fire. Just thought I'd say like...

SandyCalico said...

I guess your best retaliation is to stick your nose in the air and think how fit you are for cycling. There are some effing idiots about. Bad driving gets my goat. At the weekend I saw a van turn left at a set of traffic lights forcing the cyclist next to him to turn left too. Good job she had anticipated his idiocy. He hadn't even indicated.

cartside said...

Sandy, this left-turn-without-indicating is another one of my favourites. It happens so often that I'm always prepared. However, I actually try never to be in this situation, taking the middle position in a lane at a traffic light - you really don't want to get hit on the inside of and by a left turning car!

I usually ignore. I did in this instance, but because it happens so often, I wonder if anything else could be more effective.

I should have added a link to magnatom on youtube who films close encounters etc in Glasgow with a camera on his cycling helmet.



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