Friday, 6 November 2009

Near Death Experiences

Twice in the last couple of weeks I have come close to death or serious injury while cycle commuting. I am sure we can all recall experiences that cause some concern whilst using the roads in whatever mode, but I am talking really close to being taken out big time!

Both instances are similar and both caused me further upset and anger because the driver in each case thought what happened was entirely justified. One even seriously thought she had done me a favour. Let me explain.

Cycling along a 30mph (48kph) road. In one case within a road based cycle lane i.e. a painted white line forcing you into the gutter/leaves/debris at the kerbside, the other just sharing the traffic lane. Both times in daylight but poor viz due to rain and spay. Doing about 18-22 mph (about 29-35 kph). Wearing a high viz yellow, reflective striped jacket, a helmet with a reflective chevron band and with two Cat Eye rear flashers and one front flasher - highly visible in other words!. Both drivers accelerate past me, positioning themselves about 3-6 M ahead, then brake and turn across my path into a side junction. In both cases I had to brake hard to avoid being flattened/mangled as two solid objects obviously cannot occupy the same space and I would obviously have come off far worse than the car.

I challenged both (each time they were turning into a driveway or forecourt area and so had stopped). The first said she was safer doing this rather than waiting behind me to turn because she accelerated hard, braked hard and turned sharply therefore managing to get in front of me and turn across my path just before I reached it! The second was a rude, ignorant, young driver who insisted he had the right of way as a car driver and then got angry with me because I had dared to touch his car window to speak to him.

For those of you who may not be clear what the relevant law says here is part of the Highway Code (remember this is the UK and we drive/ride on the left side of the road).

The Highway Code rule 167

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example

  • when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down
  • stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left

So my question is: What should I do about these instances?

My first thought/reaction at the time is to drag the offender out of the car and show them how angry I really am but social and legal restrictions inhibit me. Later, I feel like getting a helmet mounted camera and using it all the time so can film future idiots and so go to the police with evidence. An expensive, time consuming option but one that would give me great video for the blog.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.