Tuesday 23 November 2010

Grumpiness temporarily alleviated

The other day whilst cycling, my grumpiness was suspended. Don't worry, it was only temporary. I actually had more considerate driving around me than poor driving. It really was quite wonderful. It included an old mini-cab (where the "private hire" stickers are often short hand for "lunatic driver") holding back on a stretch of road in Hackney for a considerable distance and then not overtaking when they had room because there was a traffic jam ahead. It also included a white van man that did much the same thing on Hoe Street. I had a car block the bus lane, but when she saw me cycling towards her, she reversed to give me room and returned a little wave when I thanked her. I had several cars give me room to pass, and finally a car stopped to let me out of a side-turning. All very strange, I may have well entered a parallel universe.

Normal service was resumed and then some today. I clearly missed the announcements that today was international "drive it like it is stolen" day. I had some astonishing driving this evening - utterly appalling. This included a white van that tried to overtake despite oncoming traffic and then moved into me before braking sharply. I had another car overtake me on a corner whilst I was moving along with the traffic jam - this instance was astonishing because the driver not only failed to see me, but judging how he braked, he failed to see the extensive traffic queue metres away as well. I confess I shouted at him, and maybe annotated this with hand signals not found in the highway code. I had numerable close passes at speed. I had a car try to box me in whilst in traffic for no other reason than presumably he was bored and wanted to try to irritate me. I had a car overtake me and then left-hook me in slow motion as she went into a petrol garage which had a queue. Finally I had a car overtake me whilst I was trying to move out to pass a parked lorry, for the driver to seemingly lose concentration and slow down thus leaving me to brake very hard and swerve heavily to avoid the parked veh. I confess I went past her at the next, inevitable, traffic jam 30 seconds down the road and shouted incoherently at her windshield as I past. It is utterly pointless doing this I know, as she will have had no idea on how inconsiderate her driving was, but I had had enough at that point.

Sometimes I think of getting a cycle child seat for my daughter, or a trailer. She would love going out with the cycle, and I could take her out easily without having to resort to fiddling around with buses. On days like those described in the first paragraph I think I should, on days like the second I cannot see how I could subject my daughter to this type of inconsiderate, crap, dangerous driving. And seeing as I get more days like the second one than the first, my child trailer goes un-purchased.


  1. Perhaps you could conduct a University of Bath-style experiment - hook up a trailer and place a large doll/dummy child in it. Take it out, with a helmet cam top record the journey.

    Do it again, this time without the trailer.

    Which drivers would modify their behaviour, and which not?

  2. Nice suggestion re the above but irrespective of any possible outcome I will not risk taking my daughter on the road in a trailer either and I am a confident road cyclist.

  3. I'd like to try the head cam thing too. There should be whole online libraries full of these incidents. There are a few on youtube - this is the first one which came up (not necessarily my favourite) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuN3nx38IH0

    Have you tried one of these? http://www.airzound.co.uk/ Yet another gadget to attach / detach to the bike when parking, but it reduces the stress level because you can honk them back without swearing.

  4. Come the spring, I will look at the trailer option again. At the moment she is borderline weight on most of the bicycle seats, and will outgrow them pretty quickly. People do say that drivers are much more careful around cycles with trailers of child seats, but I am somewhat cynical.

    Heathman - many times I have thought about a helmet cam. I am not too sure I would remember to switch it on etc. The biggest reason I would get one is as video evidence in the event of a collision. And I have also thought about an Airzound, again the taking it on and off the bicycle would be a faff, I was also looking at the electric "bell" type things as well as the airzound. Shouting works quite well, it has to be said!