Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sometimes You Need A Bullet

I no longer use my bullet-cam when cycle commuting. The are several reasons for this but primarily it was because it made me rather bitter. Instead of being a cathartic experience it was beginning to dominate my commuting. I never made a concious decision to stop using it but just found I enjoyed my cycling more without filming and reliving all the crap driving I see on a daily basis. On the other hand I love using it to film my cycle touring.

This does not mean that sometimes I don't wish I had it with me on the commute. Take last night for example. I was approaching a small contraflow along Bury Old Road. The temporary lights were red and there were several cars queuing. I was passing them on the inside in the cycle lane. When I was about six or seven cars from the front the lights turned green and the vehicles began to move. I glanced my right shoulder and pulled into a large space between two cars towards the front which were just starting to move off. The lane began to narrow and I moved from the inside to primary position to stop any cars squeezing past me along the 20-30m stretch of roadworks. 

Could he really not have waited to pass me?
So far so good? Well I thought so but the driver of a flash, white Merc' coupe behind me did not agree. He accelerated hard past me, jinking in at the last moment (just by the keep left sign) and forcing me into the kerbside. I obviously gave off some kind of instinctive non-verbal signal of my irritation with his driving style because he started to brake and swerve around the road in front of me in an angry, upset kind of manner. It was a pretty obvious signal I suppose as it consisted of a closed fist, held vertically and moved up and down from the wrist in a rhythmic manner. Childish I know but very satisfying all the same. He obviously thought better of it after a few seconds and carried on up the road a quarter mile or so to the red traffic lights without further trying to hinder my progress. 

When I caught up with him, he was in lane 2 and had decided to wait beyond the stop line in the 'cycle box'. There were several other cars in lane 1 and most of these drivers had been behind me at the contraflow and a few would no doubt have witnessed the incident. Anyway, he didn't notice me as I pulled alongside him. He didn't notice me because he too busy...texting. I gave a phone signal and mouthed at him to "put the phone away" - no swearing or anything rude. Well the reaction! His window came down, he started swearing and waving his fist around, calling me all kind of names under the Sun he was. Terrible language I do not intend to repeat. I made sure I had a few possible escape routes if things turned nasty but decided just to calmly ignore his rant and not sink to his gutter level.

The lights turned green and I set off. He shot past and braked hard in front of me as he went from lane 2 to a full stop up against the kerb. I easily cycled past him as he started to get out of the car. I had no plans to hang around and debate his or my behaviour. I did hear him shouting I had no right being "in the middle of the road". So then. It was my fault for blocking his progress for 4-5 seconds and not allowing him to get to the red lights just that little bit sooner. I now see the error of my ways!

I was soon up to 24 mph and he was back in his car and following behind me but there were now several cars now between us. After a half mile or so I turned off the main road into a side street as per normal on my commute. He was about to catch up and obviously saw where I went but did not choose to continue the chase. Drama over. 

Now, just think how exciting all that would have been relived via bullet cam?

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