When I’m on foot
My hat cocked at a jaunty angle, my jacket nicely fastened around my fit and healthy torso and my lovely smart backpack with everything in it I’ll need on this excursion I am nothing if not smug.
People in cars pass me. I think: you’re investing in a nice paunch there. I’m going to stay trim and be able to walk distances when I’m an older woman.
When I’m on my bicycle
Look at my beautiful thighs and buttocks. Working. Pedalling. Powering this magnificent machine.
And think about what my heart is doing. I’m alive! I’m sometimes going faster than you in your car. I’m nimble and responsive. Good for the environment and really quite marvellous all in all.
When I’m on my motorbike
I am without doubt the coolest, smartest road user. A cross between the eco-approved bicycle and those silly smart hatches that are little more than four-wheeled prams with engines (See Small Minds: Mini Mentality).
My leathers are flattering and fitted – trousers that hug my super thighs, a jacket that hugs my lovely waist, boots that just unify the whole look… Aren’t I just the most enviable road user?
I can go fast. I can slide in and out of you stationary cars. I can go ultra slow – my clutch control is second to none. And I can smell the air, hear the sounds of English life and be somehow in the world yet speeding past with the coolness of Shrek’s Prince Charming in his finest moments.
Similarly, I remove my helmet with a duly dramatic shake of my head revealing shiny locks and then remove my gloves to reveal immaculately painted nails.
When I’m on the bus
I don’t travel on buses any more. People coughing. Sneezing. Blowing their noses. Fidgeting. Scratching their hair… Bus drivers fulfilling their Formula 1 dreams with helpless, paying passengers on board. Road bumps? Pah! Sleeping policemen? Let’s wake them up shall we..? They should provide ‘waste bags’ on board like they do when you fly.
When I’m in my car…
You idiot! In your cheap velour shorts and nasty buttocks in my face. Get off the road! No one’s going to remember you for saving the planet riding that monstrosity, love. Orange skin and a bike that defies style definition. Oh, it’s a racer is it? Well, try racing in it woman… If I ever get out of my car…
If only pedestrians would cross at crossings. Move, Mum pushing a buggy! You’re an offence to society. Warbling on your phone, holding your latte or hazelnut latte or iced latte you coffee drinking imbecile. All your children will recall of their pushchair years is the smell of burnt coffee (yes they all burn it) and thinking Mummy talked to herself. Susie Orbach, the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra and all the nouveau therapy on offer would be unable to help.
Oh there’s a biker. Great. I’ll move over and let him through. He’ll be quick and will know what he’s doing. He’s got his life in his hands. There, he’s gone. Wish I’d have thought of that.
It seems almost impossible to put myself in someone else’s shoes/saddle. Why?
I don’t think it’s anything to do with today’s pace. It’s just being human. We all think we own the road.
Vehicles with engines pay road tax so I suppose drivers feel justified in complaining. A bicycle rider would argue, well, we don’t destroy the road so we shouldn’t pay tax. Ditto for the pedestrian. I question the political/language definition of motorbike riders. When you tax your motorbike, the tax disc used to state: Bicycle. That’s so offensive.
I won’t end this in a saintly statement saying I’ll try harder to see the point of view of other road users: I know I won’t.
But maybe I ought to get out more as a pedestrian/cyclist/biker… Maybe that’s a way of reminding myself I’m hot always right when I’m in my car.
Sometimes the only way to see the other side is to leap over and be there. It’s futile to think I can recall or bear in mind the perspective/sense of danger of other road users when I’m driving. We’re not built like that as humans.
So, what to do? I suppose the conclusion is to be a good road user however I choose to get around. Trash the self-righteous stance if at all possible and just do what I’m doing well. Tolerance. Probably a good philosophy to adopt in life.
Things I should be thinking: I don’t agree with your mode of transport. Your baby needs attention. I’m glad to see you considering your carbon footprint on that hideous contraption. You’re in my blooming way. You look stupid. Can’t you go any faster? Move, idiot!
Well, give me time…