Thursday, 19 November 2009

"You need to slow down"

It's been an eventful couple of days on the bike. Yesterday is best forgotten as it was the usual being taken advantage of plus topping it all my neighbour nearly running me over but he's forgiven as he's been threatening to do it for a while anyway. (We're still friends).

Today though was the pinnacle of a series of bad driving incidents, leading to my conclusion that we, as the increasing minority who cycle, will need gentle diplomacy to overcome the ignorance that some drivers exhibit when sharing the road with cyclists.

There were a number of the usual cars poking out of junctions and crossing the road in front of me. That's fairly normal. The first more major incident was at a give way I've had trouble at before. It's an awkward junction with two give ways right on top of each other. I approached to go straight on to the second give way but keeping to the left of the road. As I reached the give way line, a woman in an Audi A7 drew up to the junction and started to turn left. My shouting stopped her but she was less than understanding and didn't seem to understand she'd just overtaken another road user in a junction nearly causing a crash. My only solution to that one is to position myself so that a car cannot pull alongside but then I run the risk of being hit by cars entering the road especially the ones turning right who often cut the corner.

The second incident was a classic, if only for the dialogue. It happened on the straight going along the road in the picture. With the wind behind me, I was cruising along at about 20mph. The road is lined with cars either side. Consequently, I keep a decent margin on the left and use a fair amount of my lane to avoid being doored. As I was going along, the driver of a car, who had been hesitating to pull out from a road on the right, decided to come out just as I approached, clearly underestimating the speed I was doing. Realising that I was approaching she drove down the middle of the road until she thought she was in front of me but in actual fact ended up squeezing the amount of road I had available. It wasn't dangerous but it meant I had
both to slow down and change direction. It wasn't much of a deal but I felt I should see if the driver understood what she had done. She probably thought she'd got away, but half a mile later, at the lights I came alongside and tapped on her window for a quick chat whilst the lights were on red. Here's how it went:

Me: Tap tap.
Her: Thinking, ignore him, he'll go away.
Me: Tap tap.
Her: OK, he doesn't look too aggressive (probably couldn't see my red face in the dark). Winds window down.
Me: "I think you made a mistake back there"
Her: "I saw you"
Me: "But you pulled out anyway"
Her: "I was over on the right"
Me: "But you're suppose to give way"
Her: "You need to slow down, you could see me coming out"

At which point the lights changed and I'd had enough

A clear case of NSMIDSYBYOAC (Not sorry mate I did see you but you're only a cyclist)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Taking the car

I went to work today by car. The less often I do it, the more unusual it feels - it must be a couple of months since I last did it. I'm sure for most, it feels natural and is just a case of hopping in the car but for me, it didn't feel that way. Partly because changing mode means finding all the bits I need for a day at work, which are usually organised for cycling. It's also partly because of extra needed to commence a safe drive in a car such as demisting windows, adjusting mirrors etc.

I didn't enjoy it as much as cycling. My cycle commute flows a lot better, short though it is. None of the queuing and sitting behind the car in front. Probably significant is the isolation - only interacting with the radio that doesn't answer back, insulated from the outside world by glass and metal. It's not the same as talking to people (even if it is to tell them to watch out). By bike, from the off, visibility stays constant, temperature is pretty much the same all journey and it's more direct as I can go down side streets I wouldn't consider in the car.

One advantage of going by car is the time saved getting changed at either end of the day. The other thing today was is that it was a really nice morning for cycling - bad timing on my part.