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Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #1 
Yesterday, I was biking home, stopped at a red light across the intersection from my building. There was no one else in my lane on this block when I stopped, but I was mildly aware that someone became there over the course of the red light.  The light turned green and proceeded.

My next awareness is of a sustained horn as this vehicle drives past me. My jackals say it was a blaring horn.  The vehicle was a white SUV, which probably contributed to my sense of fear (terror?). I was startled, and somewhat disoriented as I pedalled through the intersection alongside this SUV, which was passing me.  The fear and uncertainty turn to a sense of helplessness, and confusion as my mind tried to figure out if I did something wrong.

As I turned into the driveway, I noticed the SUV was stopping at a red light at the end of the block.

With a certain sense of indignation, anger, and a desire to have a voice (the SUV got to have a voice by honking), I turned out of my driveway, rode behind the SUV and pulled up alongside. (I had some trepidation that this could go badly, but mostly I was driven by a mild anger.)

The driver (I registered: male, white, and there was someone in the passenger seat) rolled down his window. I initiated the conversation with some sort of question (likely: "Can I help you?").

His words were to the effect that I should use the bike lanes, as there must be 40 of them in the city. I would further add that his tone of voice seemed angry, and his expression matched the tone. And the light turned green as he finished saying this and he rolled up his window and started driving off.

In those very few seconds, my mind tried to process what he was saying, and again, I wanted to voice something but the moment was slipping.  In that instant, my mind decided that it would be reasonable to vomit my anger at him and I articulated something to the effect of "Fuck off, Asshole!" (That was his name to me in the moment, so it's only right I capitalise it [smile] ).

A few seconds later, I wanted to have taken a picture of his license plate, and even him, and posted it on FaceBook.

I've replayed the interaction in my mind a few times, noting that I wanted to inform him that there is no bike lane that leads me directly to my door.

I woke up this morning, with an awareness of my need for space.. physical space, in which I can live, through which to traverse safely.

My mind also explored this person's potential feelings of entitlement related to his use of the road, his time and inconvenience. This was not initially from a compassionate place, but rather a place from which I could be right and prove him wrong.

Eventually, my mind shifted and I let go of the urgent emotions: anger, confusion, desperation. I found myself wondering if he's feeling constrained and squeezed out. I wondered what sort of desperation he might be living through. Are his hopes and dreams slipping away? Is he needing to belong in a community where he's expected to have the SUV, and other trappings of affluence?

And I was disturbed that I lashed out in rage. In those few seconds, my anger was driving my behaviour, and I have a sense of shame about that. There's a sense that I should be better than this: more grown up, more NVC.

I also saw some of my own privilege: living downtown, in my own private space, sleeping in a safe bed, sheltered from all sorts of risks and environmental concerns, etc.

I wonder what impact this interaction had on the driver. Is he even more set in his mindset that cyclists are the enemy? 

I was happy that I had the courage to take action on my need to speak. And I was disappointed that I couldn't turn this into a more meaningful interaction.

Gail D

Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #2 
Thanks for sharing your "learning opportunity" Andy.  Needs met for vulnerability, connection, shared reality.  And for learning -- from reading your eloquent story, I can learn as well. Thank you.  

Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you, Gail, for your note.  It's heart warming to know that someone saw it, and even more, that it was meaningful.
Nancy B

Posts: 58
Reply with quote  #4 
Andy, I just saw this post now (somehow I was not subscribed to posts!). What an experience you describe! Thank you for sharing all that you observed, felt, needed, said, and wanted to say, along with all your subsequent reflections.

Really meets my needs for consciousness, growth, courage, learning, and community (the latter through your willingness to share this experience). Would you love some empathy for the pain of trying to reach out and being met with what seems like hostility? Wanting all commuters to be curious about others' needs, and open to new ways of seeing fellow travellers?  Maybe wanting sharing space to be the default setting for all road-users?

As a fellow cyclist, I felt fear and indignation when I read the initial action (horn sound) and subsequent words from this driver. I can well imagine being in that situation. I'm not sure I would have got as far as you did in coming to some peace about it. So I'm learning from the grace with which you describe your reflection. Thank you!
Frances S.

New Member
Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
A learning for me, too, in reading about your experience.  Thanks for posting!

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Posts: 180
Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Andy.

No bike lane that leads you directly to your door! Makes sense why you might experience as sense of helplessness! Do you love it when you are met with a request that's do-able (short of putting paint brush to pavement)? And be met with curiosity for what it's like to be you, experiencing that moment?

Does it nourish your soul when you have choice in how you respond when in a state of anger? Me too. Maybe higher levels of competence and inner mastery would be sweetly empowering for navigating the complexity of life?


I appreciate being part of your emotional journey as I read. In entirely different contexts I've been in, I can relate to the emotional arch of:

Shock --> fear --> uncertainty --> helplessness --> disorientation... turning into anger --> desire to have a voice... (And with an added dose of time-sensitivity) transforming into emotional hijack!

I'm also enjoying your distinction between mind, actions and who you are - which I've done and often forget, more than I remember. I'm liking the reminder.

I'm relieved that you see it as part of a learning opportunity/process and could find some tidbits of self compassion, because it allows me some space in the world to fall short of my ideals, and hold my shame with compassion too. (And falling short of my ideals/values happens more often than I like!). Your share gives me a sense of cameraderie on the journey towards our ideal selves.

It's also so sweet to have a dose of vulnerability on this forum. I imagine you have more courage than I have to post this self reveal. Thanks for leading the way. I'm appreciating the more meaningful discussion and exploration [smile]
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