First a description of what happened.
I live in a building with a 24-hour watchman. He opens the gate for anybody coming and going. And I greet him every time I come or go.
Twice when I was going I barely took one step out the gate when a bicycle flies by on the sidewalk, stopping in my tracks. The second time I yelled after the cyclist, “En la calle, ¡marica!”
Yesterday I was going and was blasted by a bicycle flying along the sidewalk. He hit me so hard that my body stopped the bicycle. I immediately started yelling.
“En la calle, huevon, ¡en la calle!”
And he said something insolent like, “Ah, por no mirar, ¿ves?” before mounting his bicycle and turning away.
That comment prompted me to slap him in the back of his head. It was not the sideways motion most people think about when slapping someone’s face. It was what I call, “throwing baseballs.”
Back in the States, it’s not too uncommon to see black girls fight. They have enough fighting experience to know that they need to punch to win, but they do not know how to punch. So they “throw baseballs.”
Instead of a full-body punch with the fist traveling in a straight line, the arm moves in a throwing motion as if throwing a baseball. But instead of throwing a ball, they land a punch with the fist. Surely you can find examples on YouTube videos galore.
I threw a baseball which ended with an open-hand slap on the back of this guy’s Peruvian head. He brought his foot to the ground instead of taking off and turned to look at me, clearly angered. I advanced on him.
“¿Qué?” I insisted.
He turned around and took off.
This is my open letter to that guy, in English because, let’s be honest, he wouldn’t read it anyway.
I should not have hit you yesterday. However, even if I hadn’t been angry and even if I had oral arguments prepared in my mind, I do not believe dialogue would have proven fruitful. You had things to do, so did I.
But while neither of us had time to argue our cases concerning your riding a bicycle at full speed on the sidewalk, I am so certain that my position is the correct one that violence was the only corrective measure that would’ve gotten through to you.
Because if you would have hit my pregnant wife or my two-year-old son, I would have knocked you out. And if you would have hit either of them so hard that they needed to be taken to the hospital, I would have put you in the hospital.
What the hell are you doing flying along on a sidewalk that is five feet wide with blind spots and pedestrians? You are a grown man, not a child. Ride in the street.
I understand that the streets of Lima are not the safest place for a cyclist – two people were killed recently — and that my street has bus routes. But that does not give you the right to steal space from pedestrians.
Lima is what it is. I am all for cycling and reducing the amount of cars on the road. But I am also a strong advocate of a progressive policy on public space. If you are afraid of the Lima drivers, you need to plan your route around the ciclovia bike paths. While they don’t cover every neighborhood, they cover the one where you committed your offense.
I ride on the sidewalk only on the block of my destination, a partial block during which I reduce my speed. But there is no excuse to be riding around the city at high speed on pedestrian sidewalks.