Not long after, a middle-aged man in Lycra on a bike that probably cost as much as a small Korean car stopped at an intersection in North Carlton. The traffic was backed up across the “Keep Clear” sign painted on the tarmac. As he swung around the back of the car blocking his way he called out an angry “F–kwit!”, and then zoomed on his way.
“Don’t!” I thought. Every “f–kwit!” by an angry bloke in Lycra takes 10 random acts of cycling politeness to cancel out the karma.
It sure wasn’t the first time I’d seen that: why are some cyclists such jerks?
Before you reach for the pitchforks, let me say that I have been riding bikes in this city for more than 30 years.
I have done my fair share of yelling (mostly to get the attention of motorists who looked like they were about to wipe me out at a roundabout).
And, yes, cyclists are vulnerable and drivers can be distracted, careless and inattentive – but only rarely malicious. So I get it.
Angry Lycra man didn’t seem to be on his way to anywhere in particular. In that gear, on that bike, on a Tuesday afternoon, heading for the Park Street bike track, he was most likely just out for a spin, some time with the wind in his (cropped, greying, helmeted) hair.
He was doing what bikes do best – being slow, like slow food – even if he was pedalling hard.
So why the aggro about a bit of gridlock, and the insult for a driver who misjudged the flow of traffic?
It isn’t exactly news: we live in angry times, when everything feels like an insult and our identities feel like they are mostly just a source of grievance for ourselves or someone else: especially “pushbike rider”.
Matt Holden is a regular columnist.