Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Cycling with angry motorists.....

I've been pretty lucky with regard to experiencing any sort of run-in with motorists while out on the bike. Nothing really ugly - maybe a couple of verbals - like today.

I'm out enjoying a 20 miler, just ambling along quiet lanes enjoying the fair-weather as spring gradually unfurls.  As I make my way down a single-track road I become aware of a vehicle behind me - it seems close... there's repeated revving from the engine. I wonder why he doesn't come past me (assuming it was a 'he') - I think there's room? - In any event it's a downhill stretch, I'm moving at about 20mph, there's nowhere to pull over and in any case there's a junction up ahead, I figure he can get round me there.

As I approach the T-junction I move to the middle of the road and turn right, it's a short, steep climb now - as I step up onto the pedals I'm startled by a long, hard horn blast from whoever it was behind - It's loud! - I glance round and see a Range Rover turning in the other direction at the junction - the window is wound half down and there's a colourful outpouring of invective - I can tell now that it is indeed a man.... or a woman with a very deep voice. In the heat of the moment I could think of no worthwhile reply without resorting to similar obscenities, all I managed to shout back was: 'nice language' - which resulted in a further volley of abuse as the car sped off in the opposite direction.

It's a shame how incidents like this can colour your day after a delightful start and some pleasant miles. What is it with motorists who react like that? I don't think I was doing anything wrong - i was in front, he couldn't get round in that big motor so he had to wait - maybe thirty seconds, probably less - until the junction. If I'd been able to pull over in a suitable spot I would - but as I say, it was a short distance to the junction anyway.

I don't ride round looking for a fight and I can't remember anything like this happening before? - I generally believe that it can be best to let inconsequential instances of other road users' stupidity or carelessness slide - rather than getting revved up into confrontation mode - this pacifism has stood me in good stead over the years I think. After I got home and thought about it, why did he react like that? - why so impatient? - why so angry? - and what had been achieved? Was this driver now going to turn into a homicidal maniac towards cyclists? (maybe he already was?).

Unfortunately motoring these days does not create an environment that rewards courtesy or consideration - drive like a complete idiot and you will get there quicker. Add to that the common pattern of aggressive, mean-spiritedness and over-estimation of driving skills, all combined with a general disregard for just how dangerous a fast-moving tonne of metal really is and the fact that there's a bit of Mr Toad in all of us and you can understand the problem.

Of course, this is not to say that cyclists are any different. There are plenty of people who ride bikes with much the same mentality; it's just that it doesn't usually affect anyone else - and they just get sweaty. Except when they get into slanging matches with motorists. If you go out with the right (i.e. wrong) attitude you could have a fight with someone every time. But I'm happy to continue in my own way - if a motorist cuts me up i'll count to ten and ride on by - it's my traffic karma measure - I'll let you know how I get on.

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