It can be heaps of fun being a cyclist, but at times it’s less than great. Sometimes this is really nobody’s fault, like when it’s raining (thanks, God!) or when your destination is at the top of a steep hill. But sometimes your bad experience is due to the reckless or downright dickhead-ish behaviour of other people. So here it is – my somewhat less than definitive guide to how not to be a dickhead to cyclists.
First – and I can’t believe that I even have to write this paragraph – refrain from anything that deliberately startles, endangers or amounts to abuse of a cyclist (this rule holds true for your interactions with other people too!). I’ve had a McDonald’s cup thrown at my head from a car while just minding my own business and by no means in anybody’s way. I’ve had things yelled out at me, presumably for a laugh, including from the passenger of a car just a metre away. A stranger yelling something at you is never pleasant, but when you’re riding a thing that requires you to keep balance to, you know, not injure yourself, it’s pretty dangerous.
Apart from intentionally being a dickhead, there are other stupid things that people often do and really shouldn’t. Everybody knows you should look before you open your car door (whether you’re the driver or a passenger) and yet a sizeable proportion of the population operates under the impression that the door doesn’t actually work unless you swing it open with Herculean force. This kind of carelessness caused a death on Sydney Road just recently, not to mention all the injuries and terrifying near misses that you don’t hear about. Then there’s double parking in the bike lane, turning without looking, stopping over the stop line, passing too closely and way too many other things to fit into a short column…
Although the easiest way to be a dickhead to cyclists is in a car – mainly because you’re in a fast, powerful, really heavy machine that can kill people easily – you can also be a dickhead outside of one! A good example is stepping out onto the road without looking, particularly from between parked cars where visibility is bad, escially since on many roads cyclists have to ride real close to said parked cars. This happened to a friend of mine while she was riding down Johnston Street and resulted in her two front teeth being knocked right out. Ouch. Try not to be a party to that kind of gore, please.
“Can’t cyclists also be dickheads?” you may ask. Yes. Oh God yes. Totally. So tune in next issue to learn all about how you can stop being a dickhead when on two wheels.