To the young woman in the pink helmet on Sunday night:
First of all, I want to apologize. I was in the wrong. I slowed down to make a right turn and forgot to look both ways. You were coming along on your bike and, though you were still quite far away from me, you yelled loudly to make sure I knew you were there. I heard you and I don't know if you noticed but I tried to placate you with a guilty smile. I'm assuming by the look of disgust on your face and the way you shook your head at me that it didn't work. I know what you were thinking - that I'm just another environmental-hating, self-important motorist who doesn't want to share the road. We were the only two people on that stretch of the road so I bore the full brunt of what I assume is your accumulated anger at motorists who don't see you.
On this particular evening, I was on my way to a client event. Not wanting to be away from my kids on a Sunday, I left home a little later than I should have and I was beginning to worry about being late. I was in a somewhat deserted part of town that I'm not familiar with and I was trying to navigate a series of one-way streets and when you saw me, I was a bit confused from having taken a wrong turn. It's no excuse of course for not seeing you but I offer it by way of explanation.
But, while I slipped up this time, I want you to know I'm a very careful driver. I respect the fact that I share the road with other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, all of whom are trying to get somewhere in a hurry. I always try to give cyclists a very wide berth and I often slow down or stop to let them pass. I'm constantly checking my sideview mirrors to see if one of you is approaching and if you are, I'll often just wait for you to pass because I can't judge how fast you're going. I really do try to share the road in a respectful way but sometimes I veer a little too far over to the right (perhaps I'm being squeezed by a motorist to my left) and you let me know by hurling profanities, shaking your fist at me or slamming it on the side of the car. I don't even get mad when you come out of nowhere, plough through red lights or weave in front of me, inches away from my engine because you don't want to sit in the traffic jam we're all experiencing.
Using a downtown Toronto road is a daily feat of skill, finesse and courage. There's so much to focus on at once - traffic jams, construction, street cars, parked cars, taxis stopping to pick up or let off passengers, doors opening and closing without warning, honking horns, police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, people crossing on yellow or red lights, pedestrians who are too busy texting to watch for oncoming traffic, not to mention an ever-changing and ever-increasing series of one-way streets, no left turns and lanes that are northbound one day and southbound the next.
I was just wondering if maybe, given everything we all have to deal with, we could approach it in a less hostile manner. Just asking.
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