Stoopid Cyclist Reels in 4×4
I read an excellent piece lampooning 4×4 driving yummy mummies from the Telegraph (pronounced “Torygraph” if you read the Gurndian) on the Urban Commuter’s blog. I found it particularly poignant, having had my own run-in with a 4×4 last Friday.
I was coming back from central Newcastle via Byker, heading down the A187 Foss Way past the factories. This is a great road for cycling - the wind always seems to be at your back, and it has a gentle downhill slope. The two combine to make this a really fast road - the biggest problem is keeping below the 30 mph speed limit. There’s a cycle lane, but it’s not worth using, as it’s generally littered with broken glass. There are also traffic calming measures - the road narrows in several places, and alternate directions have to give way. If you zoom in on the Google map, you can see what I mean quite clearly.
Anyway, just after I’d gone through the second set of narrows, a car ahead of me was slowing to turn left, so I glanced over my shoulder and pulled out an past. Shortly after this, a black 4×4came roaring past, with the driver leaning on his horn in a manner obviously meant to convey irritation at me.
For some reason at this point, the red mist came down . . . and I did the stoopidest thing. I started chasing.
“Oh how amusing - you think you can outrun me in a residential area!“
Within 1/2 a mile I’d caught up. The driver tried the loop round the roundabout manoeuvre to try to escape, but of course a bike corners much faster than any car - especially a high centre of gravity, wobbly suspension ego massage. So then the driver pulled over (on the footpath, of course), so we could talk about what was eating at him so badly. Apparantly I’d been
- “Riding like a lunatic”
- “Not even in the cycle lane”
- “Overtaking other traffic”
The thing is, I really don’t think I did nothing illegal or dangerous - I was obeying the speed limit, and paying attention to the traffic around me. I was taught to ride on the road at the age of 10, and had the watching over your shoulder routine absolutely hammered into me by the teacher. I never make turns - left or right - without a glance behind. We of course “agreed to differ” about all of this.
What I am certain of is that the driver overtaking me was breaking the speed limit, but that confronting the driver of 2 tons of metal to get into the sort of discussion we had is about the riskiest thing I’ve done for months.
Perhaps I should drink more herbal tea, and less espresso coffee.