Where did the respect go?

by jimmythecuckoo   May 17, 2009  

I dithered over whether to get the bike out this morning and ride with the continuing strong winds now coupled with sharp showers and slick roads.

I should have heeded my initial thoughts and pulled the duvet back over my head. Instead, I headed into the kitchen to prepare my bike. Sadly my Bianchi had somehow developed a popped spoke in the front wheel, which annoyed me.

So the Orbea, still dirtied and grimy from its last outing had air pumped into the tyres and the GPS swapped from the other handle bars before I set out.

The stretch down the A15 from Yaxley to the A1 is getting stupidly dangerous for those on two wheels now. I can say with reasonable authority that it is simply a matter of time before a motorist grabbing the opportunity to put their foot down between the end of the 40mph zone and the A1M kills someone on a bike.

I want to apologise to all motorists for being on that road and only travelling at about 20mph. I apologise for you maybe having to add 5 seconds on to your journey to pass me if there is something is coming the other way.

What it doesn't give you the right to do is not slow down and whizz by my right elbow at 60mph. One of these days, one of you will hit a cyclist and you will kill them...

I got to the elevated roundabout over the A1 with only four near misses this morning but my instinct told me the Fiesta haring up the slip road would not be stopping even though I had right of way on the roundabout. It was a brilliant decision that probably saved him from screeching his tyres and/or hitting me. I was shaken.

As I got to the lanes and computed the eventful first two miles in my head I decided that things needed to change for me. I am not sure that I should have to change my routine to accommodate bad and inconsiderate other road users but I was angry and I don't want to make a rash decision and put my bikes on Ebay.

The rest of the ride passed with my looking for places to drive to with the bike in the car to ride out from. So much for cycling being environmentally friendly eh?

But this morning even the lanes were going to test my brakes.

As I headed back through Folksworth a group of Triumph Spitfire cars were turning right on their way up to Morborne. Four of them went across, the fourth causing me to reach for the brakes. That there was a fifth that also just turned right in my path left me astonished, scared and as agast as the man walking his dog who saw it all.

What scared me the most was the anger in the eyes of the man who had nearly cut me down. He shrieked at me like I was a criminal.

I am not sure how much longer I can keep doing this when other road users have total disregard for cyclists lives.

Would he have called me a F****** B****** if I had been under his front axle?

(Apologies if this is a bit raw but emotions are high)

8 user comments

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Sounds like you had a bad one today Jimmy but I hope you can manage to not let it get to you. The rage that comes from the guilty motorist is one that I've encountered a lot too and it is a strange one. There just seems to be something about being in a car that makes people behave so differently. And why is everyone in such a hurry on a Sunday morning?
I'm fairly optimistic about the future of cycling in this country but have to admit I've done little to encourage my daughter to get out on the bike.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
17th May 2009 - 17:41

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why would they take care around bikes?

The penalties for actually hitting you are bloody laughable, (unless they happen to be drunk). There's no requirement for them to keep their knowledge of road law up to date in order to continue driving, and we're fast approaching a time in which a whole generation of drivers are vanishingly unlikely to have ever ridden a bike on the public road, because it was "too dangerous" as they were growing up.

It needs to change, but a degree of legislative change is needed to hammer the message home as well as the "soft" measures we're starting to see.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [426 posts]
18th May 2009 - 8:38

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I seem to recall the Dutch have a system that when a car is involved in a collision with a cyclist the driver of the car instantly has 50% of the blame, then only the remaining 50% is debated. Obviously that still needs to be backed up by decent punishments but it would hopefully focus the mind of drivers if we had something similar here.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
18th May 2009 - 20:14

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I think that's actually a Europe-wide thing… except here. If memory serves it was supposed to be become part of British law in one of those acts of European harmonisation a few years back. In fact it relates to any accident involving a motor vehicle and a more vulnerable road user and is more to do with insurance and compensation - and nothing to do with criminal liability.

However, the press and the motoring lobby portrayed it as a heavy-handed attack on the freedom of the motorist and of civil liberties (innocent until proven guilty) in a complete distortion of the truth (sometimes you really should shoot the messenger) and the government duly bottled it.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4176 posts]
18th May 2009 - 20:50

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Sounds like a really bad experience Jimmy. I hate to say it but you are right, deaths of cyclists are going to continue until there is a major change in attitude in this country.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
19th May 2009 - 8:25

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Well, I have calmed down sufficiently to consider getting the bike out tonight (weather and work permitting).

I have spoken to other riders round here who feel the same as me and are worried for their safety.

Time for action.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1315 posts]
19th May 2009 - 8:30

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mass group go slow anyone?

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
19th May 2009 - 8:35

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I'm up for the go slow. I'm 20 years old and i'd say only a "novice" cyclist really, no pro equipment or anything but i have cycled most of my life to get to places as i couldn't afford the bus. I am currently at salford university and i cycle to get there and back most days. It's a challenge because it's rather hilly and i've come from a reasonably flat home town. Still i've seen the danger on the road rise significantly over the years. I have to say in manchester there are alot of fantastic cycle lanes etc but they are off the road and you have to ride through subways etc which slows you down with all the barriers in the way. I will ride on the road, and frequently do but around rush hour it's just too dangerous. I was recently knocked off my bike and i have to say it really hurt. It took me a while to get back on the bike (luckily i love riding and i wouldn't ever give it up, but i have to say i was tempted). It was my right of way and a lady carelessly knocked me off and didn't even notice me till 2 seconds before. The thing is i'm 6 foot 5 and i always wear a fluorescent yellow jacket and helmet. If i'm not visible no one is. And i hate wearing it because i look like an idiot but it keeps me "safe". It's about time the government do something to protect us. Putting us in bus lanes was never a good idea, we hate it, they hate it (the bus drivers) so lets have our own lanes with enforced laws. Kind regards, David Swindells

Rookie rider

posted by dave6779 [36 posts]
27th May 2009 - 16:49

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