Thursday, 9 June 2011

One of Those Cycling Days

Forgive me, I've not written much on here recently. Mostly as I've been loading hundreds (yep!) of cycling videos onto YouTube and putting them into playlists for routes around the country. I've also been compiling a Cycling Examples series of clips, mostly of cars doing stupid things, but also of other hazards when on a bike.

However, I thought I'd write about today. It seemed like a nice day, sunny weather, and, bar a little early niggle, not much to report from the roads. That little niggle was maybe a hint of things to come.

The niggle, unfortunately, was not recorded as it was behind me. I was coming down Brooklands Avenue (a road with no room to overtake if there's oncoming traffic, as you can see). I took a glance to me right to catch in the corner of my eye, a Stagecoach bus not 6 foot from my back wheel. Wooooeeeee! My heart skipped several beats, we are both doing around 20mph, so if I wobble a bit, I'm under the buses wheels. How comes this driver passed their pubic service vehicle license?

Brooklands Avenue has proved a harsh place for cyclists. This is undoubtedly the reason for the shared off-road cycle path, although this doesn't help me as you can see from this clip and the advise from the Department of Transport which tells me I should not use it at my speed and the IAM suggests positive postioning.

Anyway, that aside the ride seemed nice, until I met maddening Madingley Road! I did record a car coming the other way at speed over a blind summit. Do note that you do not see the car until the very last moment.

Now, I'm not sure there's too much wrong with this, but it puts into light previous interactions with vehicles here, namely this.

So, I'm still in a happy mood! Then, not 2 minutes later I get this.

Far too close at that speed, and again, the vision ahead is quite limited. This is breaking "Highway code rule 163".

So now I'm getting a bit angry. Muttering about drivers being blind ignorant idiots. Often this dispels as the joy of riding takes over. But then, 2 minutes later this.

Again, this is breaking "Highway code rule 163". Luckily driver number two shows everyone how you should do it.

Grump, grump, grump. This time, a few minutes later, the driver isn't dangerous to me, but shows the blind, robot-like driving skills of a dustbin.

And then it's all back to normal. 15 minutes of nice riding. No incidents down sections where I'm used to boneheaded decision making in 1 ton of metal at 40+ mph.

I'm just cooling down and enjoying myself when I get this utterly reckless action which leaves me completely shaken.

This driver utterly terrified me. It left me very shaky and worried for my life. I went back to an incident about 18 months ago in my head. Because of oncoming traffic this driver didn't even get across the white line in the middle of the road doing upwards of 40mph. I could hear the car coming and could work out that it'd be very close. I felt threatened, intimidated, and bullied off the road.

This is breaking "Highway code rule 163". Well not just breaking it, shattering it, jumping up and down on the pieces, then throwing the pieces in the fire.

And for those saying I should use the cycle path, can I remind you of the advise from the Department of Transport which tells me I should not use it at my speed. I'm sure the pedestrians would agree with that, and I'd like to protect them too.

UPDATE: I've put up a map giving some measurements of this incident at showing this car was doing ~45mph within ~1foot of me. I've measured the time using MS Live Movie Project on a frame-by-frame basis. I've taken the car width to be 5.75ft, the bike width as 2ft, and placed my centre at 2ft from the kerb (exactly placed as the IAM suggests).

Not 20 seconds later, completely shaken, I get another driver not using their brain.

If these 2 events happened to a parent I would completely understand them never letting their children on a bike. It's perfectly clear that riding a bike can be so dangerous because this country has so many complete idiots able to wield 1 ton of metal as a weapon. More cyclists die on the roads of this country (inferred 150 in 2007) than by a gun (59 in 2007). And yet it's the gun crime that gets the headlines. Worldwide, over a million people die on the roads every year, over 3000 a day. It ranks in the top ten causes of death worldwide (higher in the developed world!). Period.

So, I'm now not happy. I toddle on doing more than muttering. Luckily I had no more scares or close calls. But it's made me more determined to get laws changed, people educated, priority given over to the vunerable, and more done to calm our town streets and country roads.

This is a classic example of 1980s style thinking when it comes to cycling priorities.

It's always a trying time on a bicycle. The road to the right of me has straight on and left as roundabout options. You'd have thought most people would remember that they should signal when turning left, but it's very few how do remember. A driver learning site suggests everyone should be signalling as I'm in full sight.

It makes this junction lethal, as you simply cannot tell if the vehicle is coming down this road or not. The idea, I guess, is that all cyclists should completely stop, look around and wait until there's not a car in sight, then progress slowly and carefully across the road. Anyone who's ever been on a bike knows how ridiculous this is.

Finally, a van doing a rather ridiculous manoeuvre in the middle of Trumpington.

The usual case of "I do what I want, whatever the consequences for anyone else" rudeness. I can't help but feel that rather than reverse, this van ought to go 50 yards further up the road and turn around at the junction.

So, there it is. Just one of those cycling days. Although it's really very indicative of why, in the current climate, the UK will never become a mass cycling country. Depressing.

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