SO, maybe a week ago, I was on my way to work on Wendy, my good weather commuting bike. It isn’t a long journey to work, and I have done it twice a day nearly every day for about the last two years, so I’d say I know the junctions pretty well. Anyway, I’m going down Victoria Road and I see some sporty looking guy setting a steady pace, and I’ve already been out running in the morning and my legs are a bit tired, so I figure I may as well draft him a bit down the road–I’m not super close, not breathing down his neck, whispering creepy nothings, or anything like that.
We get to a junction in the Gorbals and he stops. It is a quiet junction, there are no pedestrians about, and no cars. So I just skip the light–that’s what I did. I skipped it and thought nothing of it. At the next set of lights I stopped, as it is a busier junction and I thought it not worth it. Anyway, the chap I hitched a draft off turns up at the lights, rides up to me, looks me in the face and tells me. ‘If you ride like a prick then you give us all a bad name.’ Then he turns and cycles off in the other direction.
I was angry about this. I don’t really think someone should just call me a prick then run off like that, but I also think that he is exhibiting a very self-centric argument, and I don’t think it is sound or reasonable. For a start, I’m not riding like a prick–I’ve not put anyone in danger, not even myself, not even remotely. But lets say he’s a stickler for the rules, and he values rules above all else, because after all what are we without rules?
Well I’d say he’s going to struggle to find happiness in the world with that outlook. He must think everyone is a prick–every driver who speeds, everyone who takes an extra five minutes on their lunch, everyone who overstays when the restaurant want their table back by eight, etc. Pricks! All of us!
But I also take issue with the idea that I give cyclists a bad name. Maybe I give myself a bad name. Maybe he wants to think I’m a prick for jumping the light, and maybe dear reader you do too. That’s fine, I suppose. I’ve tried to reason, but if you disagree with me, if you think there is somehow something inherently wrong with disobeying minor traffic laws, which as far as I can tell have no moral consequence whatsoever, then fair enough. You may think I am a prick.
But if you think that because I am a prick then all cyclists are pricks, then you have made an error! Because not all cyclists are pricks. Not all of us behave the same!
Incidentally, say a motorist saw me jump the light, and thought to himself: “What a prick! That’s it–I’m just going to drive straight over the next cyclist I see!” Would you have me in the dock for murder, or the driver? Could you seriously say that I caused the murder, or would you agree that anyone who thought like that was beyond the influence of logic?
So, that’s almost all–I disagree that it matters in any way to anyone if I skip a red light now and then. I accept its against the law, but that doesn’t make it a moral issue. I have in fact been stopped by the polis for light jumping before, and I didn’t argue–I paid the £50. I accept it’s the law. I just don’t particularly care.
SO as I said, this was all a week or so ago. On the way home today, I see the same guy. O, here’s Mr You’re a prick, I thought. We stopped at the lights together a couple of times. I noticed I actually served on a jury with him last year! He must recognise me too. Anyway, although in my head I’m thinking about Mr Prick, he doesn’t seem keen to re-confront me, and I certainly have no interest as he is bigger than me and anyway I can just go home and blog about him.
SO we cycle home from work, its a bit awkward, I wish he wasn’t there, and I fall back and keep my distance. Then, at the end of Victoria Road, he goes straight on at the traffic lights when the left filter is on! That’s a red light pal!!!
But I guess if you are going to be a prick then you may as well ride like one.