Pedalling a Pick Up Line

Yesterday, The Boston Occupier had a What Would Wanna Say column regarding cyclist machismo and street harassment on two wheels. (It’s a good read, you should check it out!)

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.

pedalling a pick up line // hollaback! boston

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.”

We always love to hear your stories, but on the first day of National Bike Month I’m feeling especially partial to fellow cyclists’ tales – tell us, what’s your best bike v. harasser win?

Kate

image credit: Nathaniel Fink for Cycle Style Boston

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We actively denounce the notion that street harassment is culturally accepted and that victims somehow "deserve" it. Through raising awareness and sharing experiences, we hope to put an end to catcalling, groping, stalking, public masturbation, assaults, racial slurs, and other forms of street harassment. Because we believe we have the power to create a world where we can feel hot, confident, and badass, while still feeling safe!

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  1. [...] how how to be an effective bystander. In honor of National Bike Month, hollas are calling for cyclists’ street harassment stories. Send them [...]

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