One of the things I generally think while biking to work is how much I’ll miss living in the midst of the city whenever we inevitably buy a house. When I first moved to midtown, I was a bit intimidated to move into an area with crack dealers, prostitutes, and the homeless hanging out around my block.
Other than the ill-tempered homeless people, I never had any trouble. There were a couple that hung out on the corner of my building who spat at me once for not giving them a box of pizza I was carrying home. Horrifying. Lately, the police have really cracked down in an effort to clean up midtown. It’s worked quite well, but i sort of miss the random guys pointing at their crotches whenever I drive by. Arresting all the whores and drug dealers has really sucked a lot of the character out of my neighborhood.
For the longest time, due to the spitting incident, i greatly disliked the homeless. However, biking to work has really changed my outlook. I bike right by a pretty large homeless shelter that’s at an intersection I get stopped at pretty frequently. I now have quite regular interaction with hobos (which is a term i use out of endearment).
Usually there’s a group hanging out on the corner in their blanket tents. The shelter only takes people in at night and only takes in a certain number of people. The people who don’t make it in on time, camp out on the sidewalk across the street from the shelter. During the day, a huge group generally hangs out in the parking lot adjacent to the blanket tents. There’s also the resident shelter artist out front on nice days painting, and a group of 3-4 people that sit in the Marta stop shelter all day.
In general, I bike down towards work to a chorus of “that’s a real nice bike!” “hey girl, lemme get a ride on that bike!” “can I get a look of that bike?” “Can I sit on the handle bars?” and the like. To be fair, my cruiser is pretty flashy.
I really need to get new pictures of my bikes.
I’m assuming that I’m yelled at most of the time because my bike is eye catching and the hobos are genuinely interested in my awesome, 100lb bike. There is a movement in atlanta to outfit the homeless with bikes to improve their employment chances, so sometimes a hobo will ride up beside me and talk shop about bikes, which I always find heartening. Sometimes, they lecture me on wearing a helmet. It’s really sweet that these men (it’s always older black men who lecture me) seem so worried about my well-being. however, it has not made me wear a helmet more frequently.
every so often, the yells veer more toward cat calls, but never from the homeless. I had some douches yell at me from in front of Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles that they could see up my skirt, which is ridiculous for a few reasons: 1. it was dark, 2. the height/viewing angle renders it highly improbable, 3. even if they could, indeed, see up my skirt, the only thing visible would be my fat thighs rubbing together. I also had a (different) douche (a jogger, this time) yell at me to have sex with a man. I’m believe he thought i was a lesbian because of my short hair? I actually got angry enough to stop and start yelling back at him, but he ran off. Homeless men have much better manners than men in their 20s.
I did have a homeless man yell at me, from the steps of a church, “OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THAT ON YOUR FACE??!!?!” He yelled it loud enough that it echoed off all of the neighboring buildings and everyone started staring at me. I was just wearing sunglasses?
Other than that brief sojourn to crazytown, most of my interactions have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m glad that my biking has taught me more empathy.