Behold, my peeps! The newest superhero on the block! Today I struck a blow for humanity everywhere against the forces of evil!
I walk everywhere with That Baby. It is great exercise, plus she likes to get out and see the world. And it’s good for the environment, or so I have heard.
So today, as usual, I popped That Baby in the stroller, and we set off on a trip to the pharmacy and to the grocery store for a few things. It’s not a tough walk, straight down one relatively flat street from our newer neighbourhood through an older one, to the main drag of our fair city. It’s not tough so much as it is long. But because it is mostly flat and mostly tree-lined and shady, it makes for a nice walk where we can get moving pretty quickly and work up a sweat.
The street we walk down is a main artery in a neighbourhood. It is just a regular old suburban street, but it does see its fair share of traffic as an artery through the various other crescents and cul-de-sacs of the neighbourhood. And not only street traffic, but also pedestrian traffic, which is kind of nice, because in the act of sharing the narrow sidewalk, I have taken to saying “good morning” to everyone we pass. People in Ontario just don’t do that. They put their heads down and avoid eye contact and walk. I’m trying to change that.
But that is not why I am donning the superhero cape today.
Today we were walking home, and coming the other way along the sidewalk was an old Chinese man on a bike. He’s older than dirt, anywhere between 150 and 300 years old, and looks like he just fell off a charm bracelet. He rides a rickety old bike, and we’ve seen him before while out walking.
So he’s coming along one way, and we are coming the other. He weaves to one side. He weaves to the other. And then he drives down a driveway and onto the road.
And, as he’s passing, he looks at us mutters none too subtly in Chinese.
Now, I don’t know what he said. I mean, he was speaking Chinese. But I can guess.
Was it a racist remark, directed at me, a white woman, pushing Stinkerbelle, a black toddler, along, and blocking his way? Well, possibly.
Was it a sexist remark, directed at me, the woman, blocking his way where, in a more traditional time and place, I should have yielded to him? Maybe.
Was it an ageist remark, directed at me, the younger of the two, not yielding to him, the older man who deserved respect? Could be.
Was it a weightist remark, directed at me, the fat woman, trudging along and blocking his way? You never know.
It could have been any of those things. I mean, I don’t speak Chinese.
But I am pretty sure what it was, above and beyond all those things: It was a jerk remark from a bike rider who was pissed at me for having to yield the sidewalk!
He had woven right and left, in the hopes that I would have moved over and given him space on the sidewalk. AND I DID NOT. First off, it’s a narrow sidewalk, and I’m a big girl with a big stroller. There’s not much room.
But also? DUDE. YOU ARE ON A BIKE, A VEHICLE. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE ROAD.
After two years of walking with my daughter, I just got sick and tired of vehicles cutting close to us and racing through crosswalks and barrelling down the sidewalk at us while we were out walking. And so I decided, in that moment, like a riotgrrl Gandalf in a scruffy t-shirt: YOU! SHALL! NOT! PASS!
Dude was NOT pleased.
But here, as in many places, it’s a well-known thing. Bikes are supposed to be on the road, as they are vehicles, and abide by the rules of the road. It would be different if it was a small child, because first off I would not want them riding out onto the road in front of a bus or whatever, and also they are small so it is easier to make room for them. But this is a full-grown adult, who should know better.
And this jerk is ALWAYS riding on the sidewalk. And I am DONE with making room for him. Whatever else he might think of me, he can add Sidewalk Superhero to the list of what he mutters at me as he passes. I don’t care — as long as he’s doing it from the road.