Minerva and the Balmy Bicyclist

unicycleNYC bicyclists complain all the time about drivers. I keep my mouth shut. I understand that having a car in the city is socially irresponsible and that to date there still are not enough bike lanes. But I also understand that a lot of bikers in this city ride like complete ding-a-lings. They don’t follow traffic or pedestrian laws; they veer into the road; they don’t look where they’re going; they ride shoulder to shoulder rather than in a row. I’m sympathetic to their plight–keeping it green, keeping it real–but also have to work bloody hard not to kill them.

My friend Jan fears one day she’ll be killed by one of them. “I believe I will die on the streets of NY after having been smacked by a cyclist going the wrong direction wearing all dark clothing, no protective gear, and carrying bags of cooked food,” she has declared. “He also will die of head wounds and third degree burns (or whatever degree kills you). It will be a senseless tragedy.” So you see.

Tonight on the way home from four days out of the city I could not have been feeling more sanguine–the summer solstice and strawberry moon hung heavy on the horizon, green and gold bloomed in my heart. Still, a female bicyclist riding slowly–maybe even tipsily–in the middle of the road without a helmet or reflective gear proved a challenge. After two blocks I leaned out of the window and asked her to ride in the bike lane. (I did not honk though I sorely wanted to.) In response she pulled up to me at the next stop signlousy bike, shook her bike lock in my face through magic car Minerva’s open window, punched the roof twice, and, with bared teeth, called me a murderer. Obviously she was a loon. Obviously I should have laughed her off. Obviously it’s amazing I didn’t leap out of my car and beat her to a pulp. (My younger incarnation surely would have; I’ve barely had Minerva for nine months.) I did, however, tell. At the next light I pulled up to a cop, described what she’d done and what she looked like–pink hair is a bad call if you’re going to behave like an utter arsehole– and drove home to Grace, my upstate swoon null and void. That’s Mz Rosman if you’re nasty.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy