Hold The Line
Cycling in to my client’s office this morning, I had two near misses - both situations that I could have almost certainly avoided by riding more assertively, and holding my line.
In the first, I was approaching roundabout, where the lane nearest the kerb splits into two - the left (3 in the picture) is for taking the roundabout’s first exit, while the right (2 - the approach’s middle lane) is for going straight on - where I wanted to go. I began my move over to the straight-on lane, but heard a lorry coming up on my shoulder, with no signs of slowing down.
So I didn’t make the move all the way over, and as we got to the roundabout, the lorry - a double articulated car transporter - was only about a third of the way past me. It wasn’t indicating to turn off and was in the lane to go straight on, so I could have assumed that it was going straight on. But there was something about its position on the road that didn’t look quite right and made me hang back, not pulling out onto the roundabout with the kind of enthusiasm that I normally would.
And a good job too. The lorry was still only 2/3 of the way past me, when he started indicating to turn off. I stopped, and gave way, as 20 tons of metal tends to make a real mess of a bike’s frame alignment.
The lesson from this one? I should have given a clearer signal, and pulled across to take the centre of the straight-on lane, thereby preventing the lorry from overtaking me on the right.
Then about a mile further down the road, I went down and up the other side of Wallsend Burn’s valley. This is a 1:10 hill on the way down, and a little steeper on the way back up the other side. I was riding Trixie The Fixie, but even so, at the bottom I’d usually expect to be riding on the road’s speed limit - 30 mph - as I went through a trickly little section where there’s a traffic island to narrow the road’s effective width, and the road surface is somewhat broken up.
As I was going through this bit, a car overtook me, close enough to touch without any need to reach at all. Not “OMG, my whole life’s flashing in front of my eyes” close, but far from comfortably distant either. I caught up with the driver at the top of the bank, and politely (no, really) told him that he’d been closer than was at all comfortable. He said that I’d swerved out into his path. Hmmm. Now I can’t say in all honesty that I didn’t, or that I did - with the road surface being rough on that stretch, it’s conceivable that I could have come out from the kerb to avoid the worst of it.
What I should have done though is again be more assertive. As I approach the speed limit, there’s no reason for cars to be overtaking me, and I should pull over to the very centre of the lane to completely close off the possibility well before the traffic island and the hazard it represents. Once past it, and as my speed begins to slow, I should then pull back to my normal position of 2′-3′ from the kerb.
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 07/25/2008
- Time: 15:09:54
- Total Time: 1:07:00.00
- Distance: 18 miles
- Average Speed: 16.12 mph