Is there something in the air?
As a city cyclist I often feel I’ve become a member of the world’s most loathed collective. And, because of that, I tend to be very well mannered when I’m on the bike. Perhaps it’s a form of compensation, a way of demonstrating to the rest of the law-abiding public that not all cyclists are idiots: I don’t jump lights, I don’t ride on the footpath, I’ll let people into the gaps.
They say what goes around comes around, so perhaps my politeness is paying off. Actually, an old friend of mine used to describe these as "god points" — you do something nice for someone and you get extra credit from the All Mighty, not that I’m a believer, but you get the concept.
Anyway, on tonight’s journey home I was cruising around Parliament Square and needed to move into the next lane. I turned my head to check for traffic and made eye contact with the driver of a car accelerating at very fast speed in the lane I wanted to enter — I could actually hear the motor revving as he came racing (there’s no other word for it) around the corner. I had to make a split-second decision: stay where I was and take the wrong exit off the square, or merge into the lane and hope that the driver would see me and ease off.
I chose the former, because I didn’t trust that the driver would be able to stop in time. But then he started honking his horn. At first I thought, "WTF, I haven’t done anything wrong!" And then I realised it was the driver’s way of apologising — he knew I’d wanted to enter the lane but his speed had put me off. So what did he do? He slowed right down and made room for me to enter the lane in front of him. In fact, he waved me into the lane — and he was actually smiling and not doing it through gritted teeth!
I gave an appreciative nod of my head and continued on my way thinking how wonderful it was that not all motorists are hell bent on running us off the road!
Later, a little closer to home, a taxi driver did something similar, letting me in front of him at a set of traffic lights where there was little room to do so. He went so far as to reverse his vehicle a little. "There you go," he told me through his open window. "I don’t normally do this for everyone!"
"Ahh, but I’m not everyone," I replied, a little cheekily.
And finally, just 50 metres from my front gate, I stopped to let a pedestrian walk across an intersection. "Thank-you so much," she beamed at me, a look of astonishment on her face. I bet it’s the first time a cyclist has let her have right of way instead of cutting dangerously in front of her — I just hope it’s not her last.