Look Out for the Bikes!
by, 07-30-2010 at 06:08 AM (1744 Views)
I’ve been meaning to do one of these blog things for a while but can never seem to find a fit subject. Yesterday however, I was almost killed. This would have been a total disaster for me (and would have almost certainly spoiled my upcoming holiday), so I thought it would be the perfect medium to do my bit for cycle awareness, however small.
Really – I’m bitter about this - car drivers here (in the UK) just don’t give a thought about us poor road bikers and it is becoming really annoying. Every time you go out onto the road it seems you are at the mercy of the car driver who absolutely must dash for every break and cut up anyone in order to get three seconds further down the road. Yesterday I came within about three inches (why is it if you are angry you speak in imperial measurements?) of being hit head-on, with a car doing 70mph overtaking, almost blind. What the hell is all that about? But this is far from unusual.
Just the other month, my less attractive brother was hit by a taxi at about 30mph as it turned in front of him at a junction. He rolled over the bonnet and could easily have picked up very serious injuries. He managed to get away with a broken nose, cuts and bumps and a smashed up front wheel. The taxi escaped unhurt. The driver was apologetic and claimed he didn’t see him in his bright luminous green jacket and three bright lights, as he whizzed down the brightly lit main street – of course he didn’t. Or, could it possibly be that the car driver tried to save that all important millisecond of time in cutting him up?
Regularly at junctions we are beeped at for no reason. We are run into the pavement edge. We are given no space on small roads or large ones for that matter. We are blocked from passing in a line of traffic. We are peeped at for going too slow uphill. We are peeped at for going too fast downhill. We get swore at. We get beer cans thrown at us from passing cars (it happened to my brother). If we ever even dare to not go in single file like good little school boys, even on a massive wide road with no traffic, we are insulted. We are given no respect at all. In short, we generally get abused completely on all fronts by everyone and it is just not on.
Pedestrians are no better. Very occasionally we need to use the pavements in order to avoid the deadly tramlines, even if it is just for a few yards. When we do so we are tutted at by pedestrians who have absolutely no idea at all, “they should be on the road” they say. Well have you ever been sucked off your bike in a tramline and had your head gashed on the road? No, well I have (and my brother too of course) and it is not a pleasant experience – I needed stitches and still have the scar. Let me tell you the person who muttered at me for avoiding the tramlines yesterday is lucky he didn’t have stitches and a scar for life too - and his wouldn’t have been a cute one!
Very occasionally us road bike users are lucky enough to find our very own three feet of path, otherwise known as a designated bike lane. These are of course a dream. The fact that they only amount to about 0.01% of roads and pathways in Britain doesn’t matter; we are grateful for them. Of course no bike rider expects to go more than a furlong without cars pulling across them, pedestrians walking all over them and shouting at passing bikers who dare to use them – “you should be on the road!” It’s just part and parcel of life on British roads that bikers get used to such behaviour – but if I’m allowed just to point out for one second, those orange lanes with pictures of bikes on them are actually for bikes, thank you.
Really the benefits of biking are enormous: cheap and easy mode of transport, low cost to maintain, great health benefits, good for the environment, good fun, a sense of adventure, etc, etc, but these benefits are in danger of being completely overrun by the constant threat of injury or instant death every time you jump on the saddle in the UK.
OK, I’m sure that there are many sensible car drivers and pedestrians out there whose main aim in life it not to kill a road biker on the way to Tesco, and to them I apologise, but on the whole it does seem a really pathetic way to go about life dashing around, knocking people off bikes, running them into the edge and in general just being a massive pain in the ***.
So please, if you know any car drivers or pedestrians in the UK, I would be grateful if you could educate them just a little on our behalf, because next time that highly attractive chap, you or your friend passes on the bike, could be me!
For more information about getting into cycling in Britain visit the UK Go Cycling website: