So I’m riding my bike down the sidestreets of my neighborhood shortly before I arrive home. As I take a left turn onto a particularly crappy street, I see a family before me: a husband up ahead, walking the dog, and a woman on the right with a stroller, and a kid, probably four or five, holding one of those Chuck It ball throwers. They’re walking in the street, mind you. I have no issues with this; people walk down empty streets all the time. But the kid is on the left and she’s on the right, so I have no choice but to ride in between them. Please note at this point that the woman has made eye contact with me once already. I made the left turn, saw them, her Spideysense picked up and she turned back and noticed me. She has seen me. Repeat: she has seen me.
Slowly, I ride in between the woman and her kid, and as I do, she looks at me and says, chock full of Portland passive-aggressiveness: “Maybe you want to say ‘On your left’ or ‘right’ when you pass?”
To which I laugh and say, “Sorry.”
And as I’m riding away, she continues, “Maybe next time?”
Here is my rebuttal, which, of course, I thought of much too late: Hey lady, when you see a bike riding down the street towards you and your child, maybe, instead of making me guess whether to ride to the left, the right, or the middle of your precious family, you MOVE YOUR FUCKING KID OUT OF THE WAY. Who knows how fast I might’ve hit that turn? Who knows where I would’ve gone? Should you expect every cyclist to say “LEFT” when they pass you? Cause you shouldn’t. I certainly would’ve said “On your left” if I could’ve PASSED LEFT. I would’ve said “On your right,” too, but guess what? YOUR FAMILY WAS IN THE ENTIRE STREET. What do you want me to do, hop up onto the sidewalk and then back onto the street, wasting my time and energy, and potentially damaging my bike, so you and your loved ones can enjoy the entire shitty street to yourself? What would’ve happened if a fucking motorcycle flew by? Would you sarcastically insist that the biker put on their turn signal when they passed by? Would you chide them for being in your golden walkway known as Oregon St?
I didn’t give you notice, by the way, because YOU SAW ME RIGHT BEHIND YOU. YOU SAW ME RIGHT BEHIND YOU! YOU SAW ME! MOVE YOUR KID OUT OF THE WAY! Don’t use him as a test for bicyclists! “Will this man say the correct words, or will my child become roadkill? Find out tonight, on When Parents Don’t Care What Happens to Their Children.”
I slowed down, I waited to see if you would ask your child to move out of the way, or you move, or you acknowledge my existence, and when you didn’t, and he didn’t seem like he was going anywhere, I slowly rode in between the two of you. Look, I don’t know if your kid is a saint or the next Ted Bundy, but a first impression led me to believe that he was pretty Chill, and wasn’t going to jump into my path or throw the Chuck It at me or jump on my face like a zombie, so I wasn’t worried about hurting him. I’ll admit, okay, I will admit, I probably should’ve said, “Comin’ through!” or “Riding down the middle!” or “Maybe you should move your kid out of the way, you idiot!” but instead I slid by silently. I’ll give you that. But, also, maybe, um, maybe IT’S A FUCKING STREET. Maybe when people with wheels come a rolling you should get out of the way, because you have no idea the condition of my bicycle, and you have no idea of the condition of a person’s automobile, yeah? I know, pedestrians have the right of way, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include walking in the middle of the street.
Okay, I think I’m done ranting. I’ll be sure to shout “GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY” next time I’m riding my bicycle.