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I’ve written about my own experiences with harassment as a cyclist before, repeatedly, but as I read Wanna’s piece I couldn’t help but recall an incident that occurred years ago, before Hollaback! was on my radar at all – and it seemed only fitting to share.
My daily commute takes me through Chinatown, via Kneeland Street. On the day in question, it was warm – early summer – and still light when I left work to ride to JP to meet friends. I stopped at a light on Kneeland, and heard another bike stop behind me. When the light changed and traffic started moving, I found myself momentarily overtaken by a man on an ill-fitting mountain bike, pedalling madly and swerving into traffic to stay beside me.
“Where are you off to?” he wanted to know; I declined to share. “Aw, come on – can’t I ride with you?”
I asked if he could keep up; he assured me he could even as his speech became staggered between breaths.
“I’m not slowing down,” I warned. “I’m running late…”
“Why you gotta be like that, bitch?”
And then, the part that is always my favorite by bike: the getaway. Like the cyclist in Wanna’s column, I was equipped with a much more efficient machine; on a mountain bike next to my fixed gear, he didn’t have a hope of keeping up for long. I knew this, so I felt safe enough. I was amused as he ate my dust, not angry as I often am after a harassment incident. He, however, was angrier than some harassers as I left him behind rather than silently trudging past – there’s something to that machismo, the rage that the loss of the position of power brings out when “beaten by a girl.”
image credit: Nathaniel Fink for Cycle Style Boston
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