Street harassers suck
When you are in a car there is a barrier between you and the rest of the world that acts like a security blanket. You simply roll up your window if you don’t want to hear the outside noise. Riding a bicycle brings freedom and the enjoyment of being outdoors. It allows us to experience our community and wave and say hello to our neighbors and other pedestrians and cyclist. It also makes us vulnerable and exposed to yelling, honking, verbal assaults, and harassment.
I was sexually harassed today while commuting home from downtown. The traffic downtown was heavier than normal because a movie was being filmed and the set blocked off a major intersection, Thanks James Franco. As I pedaled hard to keep up with traffic, I came to a stop at a red light where a man pulled up next to me and made a sexual comment about my gender and physic. When I didn’t think it was funny he told me to get a sense of humor. My first instinct was to tell him to f off, but I’ve been practicing being less aggressive and did my best to control my emotions and the situation by not succumbing to using profanity, being direct with my comments, and not instigating him to become aggressive. I was at a red light with the harasser on right and James Franco a few blocks away. To my left were 3 lanes of cars all turning left. How was I going to get out of this predicament and get to safety? While I waited for the light, he keep talking and I kept wishing for James Franco to come to my rescue. Finally, the light turned green and I went the opposite way he did and made sure I was in a lane that I could exit to the sidewalk and stop if necessary.
I’m not the only bike commuter to experience this situation. It’s not okay to act aggressive towards someone because they are on a bicycle. They are people with families, children, husbands, wives, and just because they decide to take a different mode of transportation doesn’t mean they deserve to be treated abusively. While we can’t control everyone and force them to have better behavior, we can control ourselves. Stay safe and keep riding.
How to stay safe in harassing situations:
- Stay calm
- Avoid aggression and profanity
- Know your surroundings
- Yell or ring your bell loudly if you feel threatened
- Look for an exit
- Ride away from the car or person
- Pull over if necessary and wait for the car to pass.
- Take a different route than normal to avoid that person again