My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Karma on wheels

by Paul Bellini

The other day I was biking home during rush hour on Richmond Street, and I feared for my life. Giant trucks. Maniacs in sportscars. Just plain bad drivers hugging the curb and leaving no room to pass. So I said, “Fuck it, I’m taking the sidewalk.”

The sidewalk in that part of town is double wide, big enough for a vehicle. There are no businesses on this stretch, just ugly concrete, and hardly any foot traffic. I am a cautious, polite cyclist, so when I take the sidewalk I drive super slow and give pedestrians a wide berth. In any case, dismounting and walking alongside the bike would take up double the space...

I was passing a young George Brown nursing student with a humongous backpack. Her nose was buried deep in her personal device, probably asking Siri where the nearest vegan restaurant is, and she didn’t even look up until I was only two feet away. Then she whipped her head up and yelled, “You shouldn’t be biking on the sidewalk!” It was as though I had just committed murder.

I said nothing, but I thought to myself, was that really necessary? I’m just a pedestrian on wheels going walking speed, not bugging her in any way, yet she saw fit to take the opportunity to lecture me. I wanted to say. “ Go fuck yourself, you self-appointed sidewalk judge and jury,” but I opted for graciousness instead.

At that minute, one of those XXXL people on a mobility scooter comes speeding by at about 35 miles an hour. He passed her so fast that her scarf fluttered from his tailwinds. He almost hit her, almost knocked her into oncoming traffic, and didn’t even acknowledge her. So what does she say to him? Sorry. As though it was all her fault.

A  minute later, one of those professional dog walkers comes by. He has about 15 yappy dogs, each on his or her own leash all tangled up, and he’s taking up the entire width of this double wide sidewalk. He takes up so much room that the busybody has to step onto the pavement in order to get around this clot of dogs. What does she say to the dog walker? Sorry, as though being forced off the sidewalk by dogs is okay because they’re so cute and dog walking is a noble career choice anyway.

Finally, I see the busybody approach the intersection. She has her face back in her cell phone, busily texting someone. “Where are U? I am here? Ha ha, see you soon,” or some such super important text message like that. And she begins to cross the street. Only she doesn’t notice it’s still a red light. And she doesn’t even see the taxi driver coming around the corner at 60 miles per hour like he’s at the Indy 500, and he slams on the brakes and sends his passenger flying. And she looks up and you know what she says? Sorry.