A few weeks ago I was riding with a friend up a big hill on the Wrynose or Bust sportive. As we were on a quiet, wide main road with excellent visibility and it was 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning we judged it safe to be riding 2 abreast (as we had been doing for most of the previous 40 miles or so). A blue Ford van approaching from behind dished out on of the worst “punishment” passes I can remember and I threw my hand in the air in alarm as he missed me by a whisker. He then pulled in a couple of 100 metres ahead and proceeded to have a go at my riding partner about cyclists holding everyone up, breaking the law (we weren’t) and generally not giving a toss about anyone else. No sense that the Lake District economy relies almost in its entirety on visitors, no notion that this was a quiet Sunday morning and everyone was out to enjoy this beautiful corner of the world.
A week later I was approaching the mini roundabout in the centre of Caton, the village close to my home. This roundabout is a nightmare: just beyond it there is a zebra crossing outside the local Co-op; on the right is a petrol station where cars often queue on to the road; on the right turn is a bus stop at which cars regularly pull around stationary buses to turn left in front of them. To make matters worse, as you approach the roundabout the road narrows somewhat and on more than one occasion I’ve been squeezed by milk lorries on a mission. For this reason, as I approach this roundabout I always “take the lane”, i.e. pull in to the centre of the carriageway to make sure that everyone stays behind. On this occasion however, the woman behind decided that despite my maneuver she would overtake into the roundabout and took exception to my furious shout as she pulled past me on the wrong side of a road into a roundabout with a zebra crossing just beyond. Words fail me at the sheer stupidity of the driving yet she seemed to have no idea that what she did was incredibly dangerous and pulled over to tell me what she thought of my cycling. I ignored her and rode on.
These two are just the sort of anecdotes that any seasoned cyclist can reel off at will. For context I might let you know that in the course of my work I drive about 20,000 miles per year so I’m no militant fire breathing cycling radical. But these sort of things make me think I should be, indeed we all should be. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of explaining to people that cyclists don’t cause congestion (motor traffic does); ignore red lights (some people on bikes do, just as some cars do); mow down pedestrians (the overwhelming majority of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries are caused by motor vehicles). Luckily, the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain has produced a new website called Cycling Fallacies that patiently explains why helmet wearing and hi viz are not solutions to cycle safety issues and many more fallacies besides. It’s a great site and I’d like to make blue van man read it in its entirety and test him on it afterwards.
Click on the image below to visit the CycLing Fallacies website.