BG 205 – The zebra crossing

This time, The Maakster was not on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village, but was driving her car through the center of a neighboring village.
Diagonally in front of her, a woman rode a bicycle on the designated lane, with a toddler on a cute little bike on her other side. As The Maakster approached a zebra crossing, The Cyclist suddenly turned left onto that crossing, without stopping first and without looking around.

Fortunately, The Maakster was paying attention and managed to brake just before the zebra crossing, at a good distance from The Cyclist. Who was extremely shocked, jumped off her saddle, and positioned her feet on the ground on either side of her bike. At the same time, she grabbed her child by the shoulder to make it stop. The little boy, wearing a helmet, naturally got startled, put one little foot on the ground with difficulty and staggered for a moment, diagonally on his saddle, before regaining his balance.

The Cyclist looked furiously at The Maakster and began to rage and yell at her. Pointing along the length of the zebra crossing, she shouted ‘This is a goddamn zebra crossing!’ To which The Maakster replied calmly but loud enough to be heard over the noise of the engine, ‘Yes, indeed! For pedestrians!’ The Cyclist shouted and screamed over and over again with her face bright red with anger: ‘This is a zebra crossing here! This is a zebra crossing here!’ To which The Maakster replied once again, ‘Yes, for pedestrians!’ But the woman did not calm down and seemed to think that The Maakster had just attempted to kill her and her child.

From the sidewalk across the street, a chubby elderly woman came running at a slow trot, shook her head angrily at The Maakster, briefly placed her hand on The Cyclist’s shoulder and then bent over the child to comfort it. The Maakster caught a brief glimpse of the adorable child, who looked at her in wonder with a face like, ‘Why is my mommy acting so strange?’ The child needed no comfort. It hadn’t fallen, wasn’t in pain, and hadn’t even noticed the car until now. What had frightened it was its mother, who had grabbed it roughly by the shoulder and then started ranting and raving very loudly.

The Maakster briefly looked in her mirrors, turned off the engine and put it into neutral, applied the handbrake, and got out of the car. When she calmly walked towards The Cyclist, she said in a less loud but still angry tone, ‘This here is a zebra crossing!’ The Maakster introduced herself kindly and asked, ‘Could you please calm down a bit? You’re upsetting your child.’ The woman took a deep breath, ready to start ranting again, whereupon De Maakster asked her again to calm down. She asked for the toddler’s name. ‘His name is Wout,’ the woman snapped. The Maakster turned to the little boy and said, ‘Hello Wout! You’re such a big boy already, riding your bike all by yourself! How clever!’ The child proudly smiled at her. The older lady who had come to help, took a step back as if she was afraid of the alleged road pirate.

The Maakster turned back to The Cyclist. ‘Ma’am, everything is fine with your child. It was only scared by your outburst.’ The Cyclist stood speechless, still red with anger. She mumbled aggrievedly, ‘But this is a zebra crossing…’ The Maakster looked her straight in the eyes. ‘Yes, indeed, this is a zebra crossing. And zebra crossings are meant for pedestrians. What you should have done, instead of riding onto it without stopping or looking around, and thus endangering yourself and your child, was to get off your bike, calmly look around to see if there were any cars coming, and if not, calmly cross on foot while holding your bike. You could have let your child ride, while you protected him by walking next to him.’

‘Yes, but I have right of way here!’ ‘No, ma’am,’ The Maakster replied calmly, ‘you are not allowed to cycle on a zebra crossing and so you certainly didn’t have right of way. You’re lucky I was able to stop in time. Do yourself and your child a favor and never recklessly ride onto a zebra crossing again. Not every driver pays attention and hits the brakes in time!’ ‘Yes, but…’ The Cyclist stammered once again and took several deep breaths. Luckily, she seemed to be calming down a bit. ‘I understand that you were shocked, but fortunately, nothing serious happened,’ The Maakster said kindly. ‘Have a nice day! Bye, Wout!’ And once again, she received a big smile from the little boy. She got back into her car. The Cyclist and the older woman both placed a hand on the child’s back and crossed the zebra crossing on foot. The Maakster waited until they reached the other side before starting the car, checking her mirrors, and driving away.

Behind her, another driver honked their horn. Maybe someone else who thought she was a road pirate, or just someone who was getting impatient.