When I first moved into my apartment nearly a year and a half ago, I quickly realized that I needed a better method of getting to work than the subway. Local Bostonians will know that the subway, nicknamed the T, is often unreliable, slow, dirty, and just generally not an ideal method of transportation. Luckily, the perfect solution was well within reach: an electric scooter.
As I zoomed about my merry way, I ran into a few cases where the people around me weren’t too happy with what I was doing. When they felt this way, they were sure to express it. And since I’m chronically anxious and have never forgotten a single negative detail of my life, each time has periodically kept me up at night since it first occurred. While at least one of these instances was most definitely my fault, the others I’m not so sure about, so I decided to put my confusion into words and share them with you all.
4. Wrong Way One Way
I will fully admit that this one was my fault. There’s a lot of one way bike lanes throughout Boston, and one of them is around the Boston Commons. With the direction that I was headed that day, I would have needed to scooter around the entire Commons to go the “right” way, and it would save me close to 10 minutes to take a short trip down the wrong way lane. The lane is definitely more than big enough for 2 people to fit, and since it wasn’t that long I figured I might as well just go along the wrong way.
This was a mistake.
As I scootered along, a man who was going the right way exclaimed “You’re going the wrong way!” in an extraordinarily aggressive tone.
I don’t have many questions, except for wondering why he thought it was kind to yell at me rather than informing me in a loud yet neutral tone.
3. Close Call
If you want to scooter along the esplanade, you have to go over a wide pedestrian bridge to get there. Everyone bikes or scooters directly over the bridge because it’s large enough that it’s perfectly safe to do so. I was scootering along this bridge when a pedestrian runner yelled
“Watch where you’re going!”
Her voice was a mix of angry and panicked, and I looked behind me in confusion. I had been nowhere near her, and I was still nowhere near her. She was most definitely talking to me, but given that I’m hyper-aware of people I am passing, I know that I was in no danger of hitting her.
My main question here is why she thought I was going to hit her. What amount of space is “okay” to her? In general, she was also justified to protect her space given that I was on wheels and she was not, but I am still baffled. I feel terrible that she thinks I might have hit her!
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2. Bike Lane Is For Bikers
This was the first (but not the last) time I got yelled at going over a bridge. This time, I was crossing the Charles River in the bike lane, minding my own business and scootering along. I reached a person on a bike moving much slower than I was, and passed him. Then I continued my scooter.
Before long, I heard a sound that could only be described as clown music. I glanced behind me and saw that there was a man biking along, playing this song out of a horn/speaker on the front of his bike. Bizarre, but I continued along my way. He also passed the man behind me, and the clown music got louder. I checked to make sure I was fully on the right hand side of the bike lane, which I was. I always try to take up as little space as possible, because that is just the person I am. #anxiety
He passed by me normally, and then said: “Get the fuck out of the bike lane, bitch!”
I would like to point out here that according to the Boston Department of Transportation, it is perfectly legal to ride a motorized scooter in the bike lane. In fact, I would argue that if I rode my scooter on the sidewalk, I would actually be putting people in danger and I’d have far more instances to add to this list. But no, this man knows better than even the BOSTON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION! THE LITERAL LAW!
Not only that, but was was the clown music for? Was it a horn that he left going? Was it turned on especially for me, the bitch who shouldn’t have been in the bike lane?
I still to this day do not know what he wanted from me. Sometimes, as I’m close to falling asleep, I remember this incident and my eyes fly open and I feel nauseous as I debate how exactly I could have improved the situation so that I did not get yelled at. Unfortunately, all of that is nothing compared to what happened in #1…
1. Too Quick
Over my time as a scooterer, I have passed dozens of people going across the bridge, and dozens of people have passed me. My scooter is not all that quick, so while I make good time compared to the people on Blue Bikes (the Boston equivalent of Citi Bikes / Divvy Bikes / whatever other cities call the rent-a-bike programs), I am frequently passed by the people on road bikes who set out to get exercise. If there is anyone who’s been on both ends of getting passed and being passed, it’s me. Besides the story I just told you, this has always gone perfectly fine!
Until today, which was the impetuous for this entire article.
As I rode along, I noticed that I was rapidly catching up to the woman on the bike in front of me. As I got nearer, I rang the bell on my scooter twice, hoping to alert her that I was coming. I don’t always ring my bell, but she was riding in the middle of the lane as opposed to on the side, and so I didn’t want her to swerve as I went by. Instead, something else happened.
As I went by her, she screamed:
“Where do you want me to go, asshole!”
Where did I want her to go? Nowhere. She was perfectly fine exactly where she was, the bell had merely been a courtesy, and I was passing by her without incident. The words aren’t even the worst of it though, as I was passing (something which takes less than 1 second), she PUSHED ME. As in, reached out her hand and shoved my shoulder.
While we were biking.
In the moment, I steadied myself on my scooter, said “what the fuck?” and then continued on, with her mimicking what I said behind me. Even as I write this, I’m immensely rattled by what happened. Why did she push me? What good did she think that was going to do? Had I not caught my balance as quickly as I did, I would have either fallen into the road or in front of her bike. In one, I could have died. In the other, she would have fallen on top of me, something I’m sure both of us would rather avoid.
Even if I assume she reacted instinctively with the push, I still do not understand why she was angry in the first place. Was it just because I passed her? Was it because I rang the bell before doing so? The entire incident is an absolute mystery, and now I’m honestly a little afraid to scooter to work tomorrow. I don’t want to get shoved again, and I can’t figure out how to avoid getting shoved until I know why I was shoved and yelled at in the first place. I wonder if when she behaved that way, she knew that her actions would cause me to lose sleep in countless future nights, kept awake by the anxious pit in my stomach that I feel knowing I did something wrong but not knowing that that thing is.
I do believe on the surface that I was in the right here, because I didn’t do anything different than dozens of other people have done to me day after day. But because I don’t know, and because she was so upset, I truly feel ill about what happened. I want desperately to sit down and talk to her and find common ground, and despite the fact that her actions today nearly got me killed, I know I would sleep easier if I could apologize. So, if you’re the one who shoved me today and you’re reading this, let me know in the comments, I guess.