I've been commuting up and down my route for about 7 years. That's at least 1500 trips by bike back and forth. You could say that I know the road pretty well. I know how drivers, cyclists, dogs, pigeons and pedestrians generally behave at different points along my route (yes, you have to watch out for the Saturday morning pigeons and ibis on the path outside the fast food shops next to the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel - they're gorging themselves on all the pizza, burgers and chips that the drunks have half-heartedly thrown at the overflowing rubbish bins). I know where to ride to avoid the cracks, the suddenly opened doors and the drivers that stop too far forward when entering from side streets. I know where to stop at every intersection. I know where the puddles form when it rains. I know where the trees with the drooping, head catching, branches are. I know.
Tonight, I met a gumby in a car who had no idea about any of this; or about the rules of the road for that matter.
I stopped at a red light. The road is two lanes wide each way. The left lane, holding me, is for cars turning left and bikes going straight ahead - the two lanes merge into one on the other side of the intersection, and there is a bike lane there as well. The right hand lane is for cars going straight ahead or (very rarely) turning right.
Gumby pulls up in the right hand lane, winds down his window and asks me which way I am going.
I tell him straight ahead.
He tells me he is going left, and inquires who will go first.
I kind of snort in surprise and tell him that it will be me. There is no way he is turning left across in front of me. No way in the world. If he wants to be a knob, he can be a knob somewhere else.
At that point, he starts to get quite irate, saying a few rude things about cyclists "always wanting to get it their way".
No mate - I was doing the sensible thing, and you were being a tool. I got the feeling he didn't want to wait a few seconds behind me when the lights went green, and changed lanes in the hope of scooting around me from the wrong lane. He didn't like it when his moronic plan fell apart.
He wasn't the only moron on the road tonight. I had the displeasure of having to play tag with a taxi driver on George St who lane hopped six times in three blocks. He kept changing back and forth, hoping to get a break in the traffic. I could have told him that he had no hope - George St was wall to wall buses from Town Hall to Circular Quay - in those conditions, even skinny cyclists have a hard time getting through. Pudding basins like me just have to sit tight and wait it out. The worst thing about him playing tag is that he kept on barging into my lane - either when I was beside him, or when I had left a bit of a gap between me and the vehicle in front, and he lunged into my safety gap.
Seriously, the sooner retrospective abortion is legalised, the better off we'll be. Starting with the driver of Taxi 9716.