Dear bicycle commuter,
We haven’t formally met: I’m the woman with the little dog who you cycle past on your daily commute from your stressful city job, as you pedal with furious urgency so that you don’t miss an episode of MasterChef. First off, I’d like to say: well done for tossing your car keys aside and suiting up in bike shorts for either the environment, your fitness, or the perhaps the firm grabbing sensation of Lycra on your balls. I love your work.
Anyway, hello and nice to meet you. Yes, we’ve spoken before. Well, more accurately: you’ve spoken to me, and by ‘spoken’ I mean ‘yelled abuse at.’ Remember?
GET YOUR DOG OUT OF THE WAY!
BIKE RIDER COMING THROUGH!
Or your most preferred, and yet cryptic form of communication:
Something about my presence on the trail is frustrating you—I get it, and that’s okay. I’m willing to talk this through, but in order for that to happen you need to slow down your aerodynamic $8000 push bike so that we can chat about what’s upsetting you. Since we both share the trail, it’s important that we get along, and our present form of communication is a little unsatisfactory. Your drive-by rage isn’t a two-way conversation.
For instance, when you yell, “WEAR A LIGHT SO I CAN SEE YOU!” I’m unable to compose something clever and punchy in time before you pedal off at 40 kilometers an hour into the night. Unfortunately, my comeback always occurs seconds late, or sometimes at 2 a.m. when I wake up laughing at a brilliant rebuttal, like, “Trees don’t wear lights, so why aren’t you yelling at trees?” (Retrospectively, my comebacks aren’t really all that clever or punchy, but I assure you they’re hilarious at 2 a.m.)
I’d like to tell you that, while lighting myself up would make your bike commute in the darkness a little more effortless, I feel that dressing up like Las Vegas makes me visible not only to you, but to every thug crouching in the bushes. Having well-adjusted night vision is vital to running away from a murderer (believe me, I think these things through).
I care about you, bike commuter. You’re doing your bit for our environment and that’s great. But it’s important for me that we put all rage aside so we can bring peace and love to this world, not aggression. There’s nothing better for the environment than clearing the air, right?
So please accept my simple request for us to talk. I completely understand you’re in a hurry to get home, with Masterchef on TV every night, and I know it’s unlikely that you’ll find the time to slow down and chat with me on the issues mentioned above.
So I’ve devised a system that will allow us to talk one-on-one: I shall roll a large log onto the trail, which, of course, you won’t see in the darkness because logs don’t wear lights! But once you come to a stop, I’ll come out of my crouching stance in the bushes and we can sort this through once and for all.
And don’t worry too much about my friend, who you’ll get to meet. Frida may look harmless with her petite size and all, but she’s actually quite violent! (I don’t know where she gets it.)
I look forward to seeing you again.
With love and respect,
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.