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Sunday morning rides don’t come much fresher and windier than yesterday and it was after a severe panelling from a headwind that I headed back towards Peterborough Business Airport via Conington Church.

Yes, Peterborough has a “Business Airport”. Its not much but we are proud of it.
But it wasn’t the prevalence of single engine Cessna’s struggling to take off and land in the wind that caused me to stress out on this Fenland bimble. It was the horse rider I gingerly tried to overtake safely with little or no chance.

No chance?

None at all, because this young lady despite riding on the verge and me overtaking pinned to the opposite side of the road had no control over her steed as she was riding one handed whilst happily chatting to her friend on a mobile phone.
As the horse reared up I heard her utter the classic “… I will have to call you back” … she could have added “we have just bolted and are chasing a cyclist up the road but he is doing 28mph as its now a tail wind and we might struggle to catch him before the railway crossing”.

Drivers in big Range Rover type cars thinking no-one can see them whilst chatting away on a hand-held phone I am used to nowadays. It seems to be par for the course to get cut up by one or get jumped at a junction as they guffaw away about how recession proof they are.

Teenagers on horseback chatting about what “Dale” wore to the pub last night I am not used to, and I don’t want to have to bear that in mind as well whilst trying to get home safely to my family.

Stay vigilant out there people. There are hazards at every turn.
 

Rant over.

For now.
 

James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 

13 comments

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stevevfr [46 posts] 4 years ago
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I am pleased you have started a rant on this topic JPW as I have been mulling over 2 incidents that happened last week whilst riding to and from work on Peterborough Roads (A15 / London Rd).

1) Abuse being shouted at me from a car whilst on my way home on Wednesday because I had chosen to ride my Road Bike on the road rather than a cycle path. You might ask why I wasn't on the cycle path?!! well mainly because the surface is covered with grit & stones and my road tyres wouldn't last 5 minutes but also because there are major roadworks half way and I would probably ruin my wheels negotiating the surface changes. Am I in the wrong?

2) Drivers who want to take the first exit at a roundabout trying to squeeze around me rather than wait until I have made my way around to the second exit. This is purely down to a total lack of patience and zero understanding of how a cyclist has to negotiate busy roundabouts and the speeds that they can do so!

Is it just the drivers around Peterborough that seem to be particularly bad or does everyone else find the same?

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James Warrener [1081 posts] 4 years ago
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This is without my incident on the old A1 the other week where a driver told me it was ok to overtake (even though he was travelling head on towards me on my side of the road), as long as you didnt exceed the speed limit.

What the hell are they teaching people in driving lessons?

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chris75018 [99 posts] 4 years ago
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Sorry to say I've seen plenty of cyclists on my daily (south-London) commute doing similar things - chatting /texting on a mobile, changing tracks on their iPods, although I think the one that took the biscuit was the girl with a bunch of flowers in one hand (also gripping the bars) and sipping a giant-sized Starbucks with the other! quite how (if) she made it home in one piece is beyond me...

As for bein in the wrong for not using a cycle path - as far as I'm aware it's perfectly legitimate not to. A lot of them seem to be in a worse state than the roads around here (if that's possible...)

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Paul M [359 posts] 4 years ago
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Good lord, where did you ever get the idea (before now) that country cycling was safer? I have been commuting and moving around central London by bike for some years, and was totally unprepared for the experience of riding country roads near my home when I finally gave it a try. The following day I was down at my local bikeshop to buy a proper MTB so I could stay on the extensive network of local bridleways and NT common land.

Cities can seem intimidating, but generally traffic is perforce moving more slowly, roads are wider or straighter and visibility is better, there are more cyclists for the fabled "safety in numbers" effect, and drivers seem more accustomed to seing cyclists and dealing with them more effectively.

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robbieC [60 posts] 4 years ago
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yep - my commute is 3 miles in london and 12 country miles, it is the bit of the latter on an 'A' road that stresses me more. Country drivers go faster and are less skilled than many of their urban counterparts. The worst scares all seem to happen in the country from people who think the national speed limit is advisory and that they are free to drive like they are on a track. Friday night - when youngsters are in Dads car are worst - no brains and no skill and a determination to show off those facts.

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Cauld Lubter [132 posts] 4 years ago
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I find the young drivers around here are pretty clued-up and have excellent reactions. The real danger comes from the school-run mums who belt along the single-track-and-a-half roads at the NSL with apparently no thought given to oncoming traffic, road hazards, bends, visibility, etc.
The priceless thing is, many times I've seen them with kids in the back seat with nary a seat belt between them.
Bloody dangerous creatures - SRMs, not horses.

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cslattery [84 posts] 4 years ago
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I live in the new forest where its teeming with horse riders. As a cyclist you really cant win. If you keep your distance and pass wide, slowly and quietly, the horses spook and the rider shouts at you. If you call out to let them know you're there though, the same thing happens!

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James Warrener [1081 posts] 4 years ago
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Not much time to call out coming down Bolderwood though !

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PhilRuss [372 posts] 4 years ago
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No, Steve,it's not Peterborough Syndrome....on roundabouts I stick me right arm out wide, until I want to take a turn-off, and then stick me left arm out and...er...turn off. No, it's not foolproof, but I assume it elicits a tad more respect from some selfish wallies in their smelly tin cans.
It's a jungle out there.
P.R.

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whizzkid [73 posts] 4 years ago
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jimmythecuckoo wrote:

This is without my incident on the old A1 the other week where a driver told me it was ok to overtake (even though he was travelling head on towards me on my side of the road), as long as you didnt exceed the speed limit.

What the hell are they teaching people in driving lessons?

I thought I'd seen and heard everything but even I am shocked. I wonder if a right hand to his jaw would have been okay as long as your hand was not exceeding the speed limit??!

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whizzkid [73 posts] 4 years ago
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cslattery wrote:

I live in the new forest where its teeming with horse riders. As a cyclist you really cant win. If you keep your distance and pass wide, slowly and quietly, the horses spook and the rider shouts at you. If you call out to let them know you're there though, the same thing happens!

I say get the horses of the road. They are far more of a nuisance than us cyclists are claimed to be, and they sh** all over the roads, keeps making a right mess of my nice white Caad 9...

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hairyairey [297 posts] 4 years ago
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Stevevfr - I would have to say that drivers in Peterborough are massively inconsiderate. I was hit by a taxi on the roundabout near the station (who tried claiming he had a pregnant woman in the car however when his solicitors were challenged to name her by British Cycling's solicitors they settled the claim immediately!). In a previous job I used to cycle between Nuneaton and Coventry and I got a lot more respect from car drivers on those country roads. I cycle regularly from Hatfield to Kings Langley for my current job again there's a lot more respect on the road.

Unfortunately I have seen too many stupid cyclists in Peterborough who give other cyclists a bad name. No excuse for inconsideration but you can see where it comes from.

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qwerky [184 posts] 3 years ago
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Highway Code rules 61-63 state that use of cycle facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your level of experience and skills.

Dept of Transport: Annex D: Code of Conduct Notice for Cyclists states that if you want to cycle quickly (over 17mph) you should be on the road.

So its logical that cycling at a fairly decent pace on a cycle specific facility you may well be breaking the law and leave yourself liable to being arrested for "furious cycling".