I’m on my bike riding through a residential neighborhood, zipping down one of the only hills in Bethlehem to gain enough speed to climb up the other side. Ahead of me, I spot two other riders, a man and a woman heading in my direction. They’re on my side of the road. Someone has to move to the other side, and it should be them.
They just keep on coming in my direct path. I take a quick look over my shoulder for any cars coming up behind me and I cross to the opposite side, although there’s a parked car on that side so I’m riding in the middle of the road.
All this takes a few seconds. As I pass the other two riders, I say, “You’re on the wrong side!”
I don’t say it aggressively, or punitively. More like I’m telling one of my students they’ve got the comma in the wrong place.
The guy immediately comes to a stop and shouts at me: “DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT ASSHOLE!”
At this point I’m past them. My first instinct is to go back there and confront him. That idea lasts about a nanosecond. I’m not that stupid. Then I’m tempted to yell something back or throw him the finger or suggest he lower his testosterone dose, but I don’t do anything. I just turn around once to see if he’s chasing me. He’s not, nor would he catch me if he was. I keep riding.
I quickly realize my mistake: I shouldn’t have used the word wrong as in “wrong side of the road.” No one wants to be told they’re wrong about something. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. But come on, that dude was harsh. And he should know which side of the road to ride on.
The next day I’m riding the rail trail on my bike and I see in the distance coming toward me three people across. I get closer and notice they are kids: older, middle, youngest. The younger two are on scooters, the older one is on skates.
I’m definitely not going to say anything. If I have to, I’ll stop riding and let them pass. They’re just kids; they might not know the rail trail etiquette. Just as I’m slowing down I hear the oldest one say to the youngest one, “Look ahead, there’s a bike coming. Get over to the right.”
The youngest one—maybe seven years old—immediately does what his sister says. He looks up and sees me and moves to the right. The middle one also moves so they are now single file. As we pass each other I say hi and wave. They do the same.
There is still hope for the human race.