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To ring the bell or not to ring the bell

Image via yehudamoon.com

Cycling in Vienna isn’t fun. You never know when you are gonna be yelled at, even if you are on a bicycle route. You get yelled at for ringing the bell, for driving at your track but disturbing a jaywalker, for taking up space for a biker with a dog. You get yelled at for not looking forward and “nearly knocking down” a pedestrian one meter away from you or for not letting a pedestrian pass by. I never know who has the right of way, but being yelled at is still a bit harsh. The thing is, I don’t mind being yelled at if there’s a reason. But mostly people yell at me when I am already so far away as not getting the chance to yell back, but as near so I can still hear the name-calling. As they get out the bad ones right away, it just feels mean…which is really disturbing considering that I just drove by. But today topped it all. I am already very casual with my bell because normally no one likes it and you risk being called names for being such a “reckless driver” and acting like wanting to be “king of the road” or something. So today, when two guys walked their dog on the bicycle route, taking up the whole road, I was very careful not to disturb them, slowed down and passed by on the left side, maybe half a meter beside  one of the guys. For me, I thought I was very nice, nobody was disturbed and they could still use the whole street. My boyfriend was right behind me using the same path as me when one of the guys yelled out “You know you have a bell” really aggressively. My boyfriend- since feeling bad the whole day when being yelled at always in “alarm state” when using the bike-yelled right back that there was enough space so he shouldn’t worry. Which prompted the guy to let the poser hang out, daring my boyfriend to get off the bike and “battle it out” or something. I am really amazed that such tiny things can enrage people so much. Maybe we were wrong, yeah, but does this justify that behavior? People seem to be stressed out all the time and just looking for someone to degrade. It is just annoying and you have a hard time not to become cynical. Can’t we just all get along? I know there are reckless bikers, but as with every group, some are bad and give the whole group a bad name.  Why do reckless drivers cast such a big shadow over us careful drivers, who just want to drive to the destination without being yelled at?! Pedestrians and bikers-can’t we just unite and get on with it?!