Tuesday Tirade

Five things Motorists do that infuriate cyclists:

 1 Feel they MUST pass a bike

There is a strange assumption that if there is a bicycle – or a tandems or a trike  – in front of you, it is imperative that you pass it.  It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow it is going. If it is a bicycle you must pass it. A fast racing bike with a strong rider can get up to 30 or even 40 mph. Cyclists aren’t compelled to have speedometers as cars do, so in a 30 mph limit a cyclist might be legally riding at 35 mph but a car trying to out run him is breaking the law. Not that most drivers would know or care about this.

2. They don’t allow enough clearance when passing

The Highway Code tells a driver to allow as much space for a bicycle as for a car, Common-sense would suggest you allow more. Bikes can wobble and swerve to avoid potholes or debris. Cars don’t do this.

From my own observation many drivers regard a bicycle as a stationary object and will drive as close to a cyclist as they would to a brick wall.  When we cut the hedge outside our property we put a wheelbarrow a couple of feet from the edge of the road. It baffles me that drivers will give a stationary object like a wheelbarrow far more clearance than a moving bicycle. 

3. They play follow the leader

If one car driver can see far enough ahead to get past a bicycle or group of bicycles safely often the driver behind will assume that he can too. It doesn’t always work. Road conditions change by the minute.  An adequate gap 30 seconds ago is a dangerous gamble now and a suicidal risk ten seconds later.

Of course when a driver is faced with crashing head-on into a lorry or swerving and hitting a cyclist, can you blame him for picking the softer target?

4. They dazzle cyclists (and pedestrians) at night

A poetic take on this:

I’m flattered if you raise your hat 
In greeting when we meet.
Such charming old-world courtesy
I find is kind of sweet.
I like it if you open doors
Or offer me your seat
Politely in a crowded bus
Or on a busy train
Or hold your brolly over me
As shelter from the rain.

But why should your behaviour change
These manners that I like
When you are in your limousine
And I am on my bike?
When I am cycling down the lane
On dark and stormy nights
And you are speeding homeward
Why won’t you dip your lights?

A hat that’s doffed is very nice
But better far for me
Are headlights dipped as you approach
To let me clearly see
The potholes and the hazards.
What I would most delight in
Is clearance when you overtake
On lanes with no street lighting.

I don’t care if you cut me dead,
Ignore my cheerful greetings,
But please try not to cut me up
When driving home from meetings!
Your intentions may be friendly
But when I’m on my bike
A close encounter with a car
Is something I don’t like!

5. They Park on Cycle Lanes

‘Nuff said. Dangerous because it means the cyclist has to pull out into a (usually) heavy traffic flow to get past.

NB All except No 5 do not apply when I am riding my recumbent trike. I don’t know why drivers give little old ladies on recumbent trikes better treatment – I am just glad they do!