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This week we've run stories about a filter lane on a York Street
- which attracted a massive amount of anti-cycling comment in a very short time on the local paper's website, and a Guardian blog - supposedly a cycling one - which invited much the same response to a story about a cyclist as the victim of some pretty extreme violence, we've also seen how different things are in Holland http://road.cc/content/news/3445-i-want-ride-my-bicycle-netherlands-safe... which does make you wonder if Britain's roads are just angry places or whether cyclists are a particular target of that anger?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4167 posts]
9th April 2009 - 7:18


We're an outgroup [1] in the UK. The only thing that will change antipathy towards cyclists is more people cycling.

David Hembrow writes about cyclists-as-outgroup here:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out-group

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [87 posts]
9th April 2009 - 7:43


Don't think cyclists are an 'ougroup' in London more of an 'ingroup' I'd say. The media perception of cyclists is changing all the time too - possibly cos so much of the media is based in London - cycling columns and blogs in newspapers and on their websites etc.

As for what he says about stopping at red lights, surely the point is that it's the law.

On a bike somewhere…

thebikeboy's picture

posted by thebikeboy [138 posts]
9th April 2009 - 8:08


As a cyclist is does frustrate me when other cyclists just go coasting through at red lights, im sorry but it is the law and it is for a reason. Stopping at red lights isnt a hardship, it just emans that you need to be a bit more aware when accelerating away from them.

Having said that it must sometimes be safer to go through a red light when it is obviously clear rather than wait for the race to fit two lanes of cars and one cycle lane into a single lane 50m up the road.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
9th April 2009 - 8:48


Cycling is still a minority - albeit a large one - form of transport, though, even in London.

I think you'd need to get to Danish/Dutch proportions of trips before cyclists were no longer an out-group.

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [87 posts]
9th April 2009 - 9:09


I've had the usual people hooting and gesticulating at me (occasional shouting too, although it's hard to make out what they're saying, could well be "I admire your cadence" for all I know).

The nastiest thing I've ever had is some guy who chased me for a while, before stopping in front of me. He then got out of his car and threatened to punch me. Bizarrely, this was because of a habit I used to have of thanking people for not pullingout ahead of me. Mr. Road Rage lip read the "thank you" as something less complimentary.

"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [425 posts]
9th April 2009 - 17:18


I had a guy deliberately drive into me at a roundabout once because i went round him to the front of the queue. Not quick enough to do any damage, but enough to knock me off. I stood in front of his car for a whole minute, which didn't improve his mood... Big Grin

cactuscat's picture

posted by cactuscat [304 posts]
9th April 2009 - 17:26


about 15 years ago when I was a London bike commuter and it was a less, er bike aware place (and believe me Londoners the centre at least is a very much more bike aware place than a lot of British cities) I used to smile and waggle my little finger at motorists who cut me up, or drove at me etc - they always looked back in their rear view mirrors when they did it, and quite satisfyingly some would go absolutely ballistic when they got the pinky waggle… the truth obviously hurt.

On one occasion on the very busy gyratory system where the Bethnal Green and Hackney roads feed into Liverpool St and round to Old Street a very large bloke with a very small brain who'd swerved right across three lanes missing me by millimetres in the process stopped his car in the middle of about six lanes of morning rush hour traffic got out and chased me down the road… ah, happy days

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
9th April 2009 - 17:46


I know a cyclist who, having suffered a hostile overtaking by a car, caught up with it at traffic lights, opened the door and punched the driver. From personal experience, a driver once shouted what I shall describe as some helpful advice on how to prolong my life, after I misjudged my power on a roundabout and effected a slow and wobbly pull-out. In my defence, I was frustrated at the lack of any motorists seemingly prepared to let me onto said roundabout. I did later question the safety of the driver's window-winding-down-head-turning-to-shout-comment-while-simultaneously-turning-left-manouevre but that was probably hurt pride.

WheelWoman's picture

posted by WheelWoman [2 posts]
9th April 2009 - 18:07


Since arriving in London 6 years ago I have had the usual rocks thrown at me by kids but also have been punched in the face THREE times, twice on the same road for daring to point out that the said motorists were going the wrong way down (towards me) a one way street. Motorists just aren;t really in touch with the danger.

Previously been chased down centre strips by irate truck drivers and all the rest of it. That's 25 years commuting for you Smile

Have to say that in the last couple of years since the surge in popularity of cycling it's become other cyclists that have made angry a lot more than drivers. A lot of cyclists attitudes to pedestrians are frankly revolting, rendering their carping about bad behaviour from motorists somewhat hypocritical.


PS I was being overtaken by lovely people in their Range Rovers on my weekend ride the other day and devised a compulsory new part of the driving test: All drivers must stand with their backs to a 4WD that drives past them at 20-30mph with one foot clearance. That might help communicate the feeling...

PPS The worst thing I have done to a motorist (well Taxi) was unclip a foot from SPDs and slam cleat down into side of it as it (wrongly) pulled out on me. Not recommended but felt wonderful...

alotronic's picture

posted by alotronic [313 posts]
9th April 2009 - 21:26


I live in Brussels and its just as bad as the UK if not worse. People here really don't like or tolerate cyclists. I've had people not just blow their horns but also try and push me out of their way with their car. Last week a women drove into me slowly at a junction from behind because she said I was in the way and she was late for work. I have to take deep breaths and force myself not to retaliate. Angry

The problem is that people here are generally selfish drivers at the best of times. There are virtually no cyclists. Basically they are bigger than you and you should get out of the way. The usual Chelsea tractor driver gabbing on the phone not watching where they are going is a daily hazard.

On a weekend I do a lot of KMs in Flanders. The attitude there is completely different.

posted by Blow [2 posts]
9th April 2009 - 21:37


Interesting to hear that thing's aren't too good in brussels. we tend to see the whole of mainland europe through rose tinted cycling specs a lot of the time. Still, not much of a schlep to the cycling heartlands for you of a weekend... did you make the ronde or gent-wevelgem?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7538 posts]
9th April 2009 - 21:55


I've ridden in Flanders too and found people very considerate - remember at the time I was with some cyclists who found it disconcerting. They were so used to confrontation that they found it hard to switch off themselves. Hard to credit that things could be so different in another part of such a small country, but then I suppose it is virtually two even smaller countries really.

Ever done any riding in Holland? is it really the cycling Shangri La we're told it is?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4167 posts]
9th April 2009 - 21:56


Since arriving in London 6 years ago I have had the usual rocks thrown at me by kids but also have been punched in the face THREE times, twice on the same road for daring to point out that the said motorists were going the wrong way down (towards me) a one way street. Motorists just aren;t really in touch with the danger.

Blimey, I never had rocks thrown at me back in the 90s a mate of mine reckoned it was a regular occurence up North where he lived.

Re your comments on other cyclists in London - a friend of mine from back in the big smoke said exactly the same to me a couple of weeks ago. 10 years ago heading into London from the East the biggest threats to life and limb were white van yobs and self-made men in Mercs. These days he said the biggest danger was other cyclists and he said they were also the people with the worst attitude to both pedestrians and to other cyclists. It's not like that in Holland or Flanders I'll bet…

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
9th April 2009 - 22:04


Not really road rage but an amusing thing happened the other day when out on a training ride alone:

I was moving pretty quick on an open road that leads into a busy village, at around 17:30. It was rush hour, so lots of cars going home from work. The road is smooth, and I was TTing it at about 28mph when a white transit overtook me too close and a builder type on the passenger side bellowed something at me that sounded like mmmmlllleerrrhhhh!! (as it always sounds when they shout as they speed by), and I could see the 3 occupants laughing to each other as they drove off.

The village they, and I, were headed toward is always busy, and within a couple of miles I could see the van ahead in a line of traffic, with shouty-boy leaning out of the side window smoking a fag. I swung up the inside and passed at about 25mph as close to him as I could, and shouted at the top of my voice mmmmllllleeeerrrhhh!

I saw him dive into the van, and as I looked back I could see 2 people laughing and one very irate looking builder, I waved, smiled and rode off.

Complicating matters since 1965

DaSy's picture

posted by DaSy [649 posts]
10th April 2009 - 7:13


Ha ha, which reminds me of an incident that is going to take us another step away from road rage… and into the more general area of road yobbery.

One night Back in the wild 80s a mate and I were walking along Camden High Road at about 2am when a car full of 'youths' came tearing up the road - my friend was about 10 feet in front of me and as the car sped past him an egg sailed out of the passenger side window… in one fluid, almost balletic, movement he caught it and fired straight back in the window of the moving car.

What was particularly surprising was that he was not, shall we say, a natural athlete… and nor was he completely sober.

More surpisingly still they didn't stop. Smile

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
10th April 2009 - 9:52


I was nearly murdered by a man who skimmed his ( aimed ) car at me millimetres past my handlebar.
MY CRIME: on a tumbleweed-strewn city junction one Sunday morning, a set of lights ( that I KNEW were slow ) took ages. It was 7.30am, there was no traffic...anywhwhere, I thought ( after a LOOONG wait ) " Oh b*ll*cks to this I'm off. "
He took off after me and nearly killed me. I gave him the finger. Then it got weird.
He pulled an emergency handbrake stop in the middle of the road, left his car there, jumped out and came running at me....PURPLE WITH RAGE.
" Did you just give me the finger?! "

" Yes, you're a c**t. " ( I'd had a VERY unpleasant nightshift )

" Do you f**king want some!!! "

" Ay, alright then. Let me park me bike. "

( At this point I think it useful to mention that I can fight )

He swung at me and I beat the sh1t out him. Give him credit, he did keep coming back for more. I finally had enough, punched him to the ground again and got into his car and threw his keys a LONG way away.

Here's the funny bit. After I cycled like fury for the Bristol Bike path and safety and called in the police with his details THEY KNEW OF HIM!! This murderous pratt had done this before!!!

Agency Scum's picture

posted by Agency Scum [2 posts]
15th April 2009 - 17:50


Hi sorry peeps I've been somewhat tied up with work.

I was riding on the dutch coast at the weekend. Car drivers very polite. Cyclists - way too many day trippers but then I was at the seaside. Biggest problem pedestrians on cycle paths. But yes my impression is that its a bit of a nirvana.

As for Belgium. Yes I do get out and about. I did De Ronde a couple of weeks ago. Great stuff. Although there were a couple of bad smashes and tumbles. But what do you expect with 17k people on open public roads.

Generally Flanders is great for cycling. People are courteous and friendly. You have to stay on cycle paths which can be a bit of a bind. But they are generally in good condition.

Wallonia is a different kettle of fish. The drivers are aggressive. They park on cycle paths and pull out in front of you without batting an eyelid. At the same time teh cycle paths are terrible - just like the state of the roads (I managed to kill my rear Krysium 40km from home on saturday - so I reinvented the wheel as square and rode it home without a back brake)

Brussels is probably the worse. Hysterically it doesn't get any better on the yearly car free sunday when all the car drivers get on bikes for the day but continue to drive like ego-maniacs!! Its still as dangerous and cantankerous as ever. Angry

There are loadsa sportives and races that you can do every week. Check out www.cyclo.be for an agenda. The Lotto cycling tour takes care of the big events. I'm registered for the Golden Flandrien, Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff and the Geants des Ardennes for a start.

Hotels are generally cheap and you can take your bike on eurostar to any Belgian station.

Nothing tastes better than a paquet frites avec mayo after a 140km ride Smile

Anyhow hang on in there. Take a deep breath.

Mr. Blow

posted by Blow [2 posts]
15th April 2009 - 18:53


I forgot to mention ( for balance ) that I'm aggressively lovely on my bike. I let cars out, am courteous to taxi drivers ( that REALLY freaks them out ) and never act " like a tractor " and hold up a column of cars; I pull to one side, let them all overtake and then giggle uncontrollably as I pass them on the congested city streets a few hundred yards later.
I believe our reputation starts with ME. Spread the love. As a coping mechanism to deal with gridlocked traffic I like to count the number of miserable people driving cars over £50K....it's soooo refreshing!

Agency Scum's picture

posted by Agency Scum [2 posts]
15th April 2009 - 23:17


My work run is 17 miles - I incur abuse every other journey. This is a very small percentage of drivers you meet on the journey but enough to p**s you off.
But, don't forget, cyclists can be just as bad.
I was recenltly cursed in a threating manner by a cyclist becuase, even though I saw him coming, I left it very late to get out of his way....hence his abusive rage. I was walking on the pavement.

There is raod rage out there, no doubt.....but not just from drivers.

posted by lamppostt [1 posts]
16th April 2009 - 8:52


I've just come back from cycling on the Dutch coast with my young family. I can agree with Mr. Blow, it is a great place to ride and not just for the lack of hills! People were courteous and tolerant of my 6 year old who has a fairly loose interpretation of riding on the right hand side. Cars stop at crossings for bikes to cross and drive much slower. The biggest danger is the 'proper' cyclists who were using the same cycle paths but at much higher speeds, although usually they gave a warning before speeding through.

However, on my ride into work this morning, I have nearly been hit by the same bus driver 3 times in as many minutes. His poor driving was something to be expected, but what really got me was that, with a bus full of passengers, he still thought it fit to open his window and hurl abuse at me. I'm thinking of reporting him to the bus company, but I'm not sure if would do any good.


Ian Crook's picture

posted by Ian Crook [16 posts]
20th April 2009 - 11:35


Well I reported a driver to FirstBus and they did seem to take it seriously in the end nothing came of the matter because the pic I took of his number on my phone was corrupt.

Got to say I felt a bit bad afterwards because I felt that due to a technical malfunction on my part a dangerous driver was still on the roads in charge of a very big bus.

I'd say report him, even if the bus company don't follow up on it at least you'll know that you've done your best.

Darned if I do…

Mr Sock's picture

posted by Mr Sock [153 posts]
20th April 2009 - 11:55