Drivers: You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry . . .
I was working at a client’s on the Team Valley today, and over lunchtime, I put together a post that I immediately decided to embargo for just over a fortnight. My reasons may become clearer later.
So on the way home, I was wondering what to write about, and surprisingly enough a couple of drivers gave me all the material I needed. Once I got home and read about Carlton Reid’s evening of riding on the outside of a moving car though, I was positive that I’d chosen to write about the right thing.
Before I start, I want to check that you know there’s a certain type of lazy journalist who likes to look for stereotypes to tar an entire population with. You’ll recognise the writing, picking on whatever the bête noire du jour happens to be - hoodies, knife-crime (knife-culture!), or whatever. Given the chance, they’ll label people on bikes as red-light-jumping-menaces.
Yeah. So anyway. To this evening’s ride home.
I rode across the High Level Bridge, and then through the one-way system to turn towards the coast. As I approached the junction onto Collingwood Street, I saw that the traffic was fairly backed up, and moved across to the primary position. to block any cars coming up behind and squeezing into any non-existant space in front of me. Do this to another car, and they might end up with some scratched paintwork. Do it to me on a bike, and the chances are that I’ll go down onto the tarmac.
If the driver’s lucky, they’ll have killed me outright, because if not, they’ll have made me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. (That’s irony, BTW. With my physique, Hulk references are especially funny).
So as I approached the lights, they turned amber, and I prepared to stop. Still holding the centre of the lane, I knock it down to first gear, glide to a halt and unclip at the line, just as the lights go red. But that wasn’t going to stop the car behind me, who somehow squeezed through the non-existant gap past me (close . . . really close), and through the lights at red.
Look at that - b@$tard car drivers - NO respect for the Law.
Then later, there were two cars stopped at the lights outside the [ex-] Swan Hunter shipyard. I’m coasting to a halt behind them, ready to take my place behind the rear vehicle, when another car comes cruising past, and then shoulders into the rapidly diminishing gap I’d left. Naturally, I filtered up the inside of the queue, but rather than going all the way to the bike box beyond the advanced stop line to wait for the lights to change, slipped into the cigarette paper-thin gap between cars #2 & #3. When we pulled away, I was careful to hold the lane, and make the ignorant gimp in car #3 stay back ’till after we’d cleared the junction.
OK, so it’s pretty petty passive-aggressive nah-nah-di-nah behaviour, but it did make me feel better.
Except now, having read about Carlton’s experience not so far away, at about the same time, I’m wondering if this was in fact the smartest thing to do at all.
The problem I have is that although there were no impacts, both these drivers I’ve talked about were acting in a manner that can only be described as bullying. With a couple of tons of metal, crumple zones and airbags, they can do pretty much whatever they like around bikes, ‘cos the person on the bike WILL come off the worst for the encounter.
And if there’s one thing likely to get a bad reaction from me, it’s bullying. Do it often enough, and the chances are that my skin WILL go green, and I’ll end up losing my shirt (though for decency’s sake, not my trousers).
But I don’t want that to happen. So what IS the correct way to react to this sort of bullying behaviour?
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 01/27/2009
- Total Time: 2:08:00.00
- Calories: 1674
- Distance: 30 miles
- Average Speed: 14.06 mph