Monday, June 22, 2009

1 out of 100

After I left the peaceful Bike Ride on Friday, reality just again bit me. Am I asking for too much, when I want cycling in Vienna to be relaxed and safe?

Well, I was riding along a very narrow one-way street (of course only narrow and one-way because cars are allowed to park free of charge on both sides of the road). As I heard a car approaching from behind, I already started to watch out for possible gaps to pull in to let it pass as I don't like cars following me and it's also not comfortable for them. But before the car even caught up to me, the lady already pushed the horn continuously and shouted “Get fuckin' out of the way!”. Sorry, but that was it for me. I'm generally giving way to cars if possible, but this time I just couldn't. I pulled back in the middle of the lane, gave her the finger and shouted “I have as much right to drive here as you have”. She continued pushing the horn, shouting from the window, and I got really petrified that she would try to hit me. She simply didn't get that there was not enough room to overtake and that I didn't block her on purpose.

People along the road already started looking and some came out of a bar. I don't know whether they recognized the hysterical lady behind the steering wheel or thought that I'm just a stupid cyclist blocking traffic (the “real” traffic of course, the one with cars).

When the road got a little wider (already after 20m anyway) she accelerated immediately, overtook me and cut me off. Apparently she didn't notice that I had slowed down cause there was a junction where we had to give way to the rest of the traffic. She ignored a pedestrian waiting at a crosswalk and nearly crashed into the car coming from the right. So now that guy started honking at her... In fact there is a ban on honking in Vienna, but nobody really gives a shit. Very annoying and yet another needless sound source from motorized traffic.

Honestly, what's wrong with some people? How is it possible that such maniacs are entitled to drive a car and thereby threaten other people? I know, only something like 1 out of 100 persons behaves like that when trapped in a car, but it's still too much.

Unfortunately, such experiences get me steamed up. I need to calm down. I can live with the honking itself by simply ignoring it. But as soon as somebody starts bawling at me, I'm close to lose my poise. Cycling in this city already requires a high frustration tolerance and such incidents are just the last straw. How do you handle such a situation?

honk if you love bikes"Honk for bikes" by Dave O


Velouria said...

This is why I am too freaked out to commute in Vienna. During my bi-weekly rides here, I pass a stretch of maybe 5km where there is no designated cycle path and bikes share the road with cars -- and that has been enough for me, in terms of both stress and how much risk I am willing to take in a foreign country.

One thing I have discovered, is that cars often do not respect right-of-way at stop-signs when it comes to bicycles. They certainly yield to other cars, but act as if my bike is invisible when I arrive to the intersection first. WTF?..

Anonymous said...

That’s a really bad experience. Some people should immediately return their driving licence. What I find even more disturbing is the fact that it was a woman acting like this. What was her problem? Does someone have to die before she changes her attitude? We really should get rid of our car-centric view of traffic and focus on cooperation and respect instead. Roads existed already when cars weren’t around yet.
Besides, I don’t think that someone who needs a ton of steel and endless gallons of gas to move around is more “important” than others.

Lynn said...

I was almost hoping to read that she crashed after passing you, but that wouldn't be fair to the other driver, and she would probably blame you, and it would be bad karma on me for wishing something bad on someone else! I don't understand why everyone is so impatient about everything all the time. I think we should post signs around cities that say "What's the hurry?" and "Practice Patience".

l' homme au velo said...

This Attitude seems to be Universal unfortunately on the Part of Motorists. We get the same thing in our Metropolis of Dublin and in the Country Generally. They seem to think they own The Road and Hate being held up by Cyclists.

I hate Cars coming behind me and Revving all the time,it just drives me Mad. I always pull in when I can and just let them go,even though you are in the Right because the Road is narrow.

On our Roads unfortunately you can sometimes get the Occasional Lunatic that will just Crash into you out of Frustration.

Believe me a Cyclist is no match against a Tonne and a Half of Metal,so it is no use Losing the Head and Obstructing them out of Rage. Better to just let them go and if you are in the Mind to do it Report them to the Police. Our Police like you to do that but you will probably End up in Court as a Witness and have to Prove that Motorist actually broke the Law so there is really no point in getting involved. If the Motorist is prone to Road Rage then sooner than later they are going to cause a Crash or a Fight with another Motorist.

It is an awful Pity she did not Run into a Shop Window or a Parked Car.

Anonymous said...

A big smile and a cheery wave and then laugh at them as you tell them what you really think!

Dottie said...

That sucks. This really is a common occurrence it seems, unfortunately. Those narrow one-way streets that allow parking on both sides are a real problem - the same kind of street I had a problem with. You're right that it's good to remember that the jerk is usually 1 in 100.

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