Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A perfect reality show idea!

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That's a fact,
It's a thing we can't deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die.

Katie Melua, "Nine Million Bycicles"

OK, I know a lot of you will not be too impressed. You will say it is a mean thing to say, blah-blah... But here is the thing. I have decided that I hate cyclists.

Until yesterday, it was sort of 50/50 between cyclists and motorcyclists. Some days, especially while driving my little Skoda, I think I hate motorcyclists more. To a car driver, they are definitely more annoying. Cyclists are just vulnerable when you are looking at them from the car. Plus, Western society gives you (a driver) this automatic guilt complex whenever cyclists are involved in any road accident. But, as of yesterday, I hate cyclists a lot more.

Yesterday, having arrived from a nice brunch at a friend’s house, I pulled up right outside my house. You would assume, wouldn’t you, that the pavement outside your own home is a pretty safe place for you to stand. But I guess not. Pavements are actually pretty dangerous because of morons who are not supposed to be cycling along them at all, let alone at a great speed. I was locking the car door and did not see or hear him approaching. He whooshed past me just as I turned around, and almost hit me. He also came too close to my child who was standing nearby.

The most annoying part, of course, was that I could not catch him, could not tell him off, or do anything at all. And trust me; there are sooooo many things I wished I could do to him. You have no idea what a woman is capable of if she as much as suspected her child could have been hurt. I saw him pedalling away even faster, and all I could do is shout to his back. But I doubt he even heard me, as he was already at the next junction by then.  He was only young too, so I knew I could have him, if only I could catch the little prat.

I remember my first ever trip to Amsterdam, years ago. These days, I am somewhat used to crazy people on motorbikes and cyclists appearing out of nowhere.

Back then, I had no clue. Druggie, my good old friend, came to pick me up from Paris, where I was on holiday. ‘Watch out for f***ing cyclists and trams!’ She warned as we drove into Amsterdam, and I was confused. Cyclists? Why would I worry about them? I thought hundreds of bicycles all around Amsterdam looked very cute.

And then, during the very first stroll down a narrow Amsterdam path, I heard a quiet noise behind me and, before I could glance back, someone fly by like a vampire in the Twilight saga. It was a narrow, dark alleyway, with nowhere to hide and nowhere to run. A horrifying experience. I knew exactly what Druggie meant then. Also, imagine being stoned (As it happens in Amsterdam. To some people. Not me, of course, I am saying for the manager of mine, in case he is secretly reading it... ) and being chased by endless bikes or trams. Not good.

Now, this is when I wish I were back in Baku. I just wish I could teleport those homicidal cyclists to my home town, just for an hour. One short hour is enough to get them to learn their lesson a hard way. In a city where nobody cares about their special environmentally friendly status, where there are no driving rules and where the only people who would get any respect on the road are those in expensive flashy cars: how long would it take for a cyclist to survive? Now, that would make a perfect reality show!

Baku Cyclist Survival

Are you a daredevil cyclist? Don’t like to obey rules? Don’t believe in traffic signals? Like to cycle wherever you like, including pavements? Want some real thrill? Come and try your survival skills in Baku! Oh, and make sure you wear Lycra shorts. Good luck, my friends.


  1. You can send those crazy cyclists to Lima too. By the way you talk about Baku traffic, you can get the whole picture about Limean traffic.
    That's scary!

  2. LOVE the idea! Yeah, good thing you reminded of lycra shorts! Cant go without them in Az!

    Five stars!

  3. @Gabriela: Funny, isn't it. My friend texted me the other day from China, saying she saw a cyclist go against the traffic on a freeway! crazy cyclists everywhere...But not in Baku. Just would not last, you know?

    @Anonymous: Whenever I see a comment with no name attached to it, I assume it will be critical. But yours was not. Thanks for the surprise! :))

  4. Once, in Covent Garden, a cyclist rode so close and so fast past my friend that he (I think it was a he - it was too quick to be sure) even clipped a button off her jacket. Would you believe that???

    And as for the cyclist you write about hearing you, forget it - he was probably listening to his iPod, as well, which is a serious pet hate of mine: drivers can not use their mobile phones, yet cyclists think it is OK to talk on the phone or listen to iPods while riding.

  5. Here in China, you have to look both ways on the PAVEMENT BEFORE you step out of a shop! The road is another story. And of course, the freeway is yet another one (with cyclists going the wrong way).

  6. riding a bicycle in Baki.no never i was almost killed and i was in a 4x4. amazing place, but if i have to live in Azerbaijan rather try my luck in Shrivan :)

  7. @SL: Just be careful, girl!

    @ Anonymous: Srivan? What's that? You mean shirvan, as in money? :)

  8. @Scary: So why didn't you chase the guy? You had a car.

  9. I was in Baku last month, first time in years. It felt as if I was on another planet, sort of like in a bad dream. Traffic drove me nuts. Someone there asked me if I had a driver's license when I mentioned I drive in the US. The question sounded strange to me until someone reminded that in Baku, people buy driver's licenses along with the cars :) And what's with this obsession with Mercedes-Benz? Every other car is MB in Baku, most are old models from what I could tell but still. It was funny. Oh, and seeing 4 rows of cars on a three-lane road... I mean, in Baku sober drivers drive like drunks would in the US...

  10. @Riyad: Ah, don't. I still feel so...i can't explain? Frustrated? I was standing outside my own house, my 4 year old was standing right there, too, I could not leave her standing on the pavement and run after a very fast bike, could I? Impossible. So angry though!!! By the time I would have got in the car, with *********** village!

    @Marianna: They only buy Mercs because they cant always afford a Hummer.:)

  11. They should consider a used Hummer. I can immagine the traffic on the back streets when a Hummer is stuck between the cars parked on both sides. Ha-ha.

  12. The most shocking thing about this story, is the discovery that you drive a Skoda! So many classic Skoda jokes,so little space to type them...

  13. @northernrich: I know, I know! I even put up a joke here a few times about it. :) Have you not seen the posting about cars? I cant remember when now...It was quite funny. It was not mine, I just shared it, so I can say it was funny. :)