Over the years, I’ve had the odd difficult moment on the roads. But, generally my philosophy is to try and stay out of trouble, ride with common sense and consideration to others. I follow the rules of the road with the over-riding proviso being common sense and consideration, rather than a stickler for rules and regulation.
There’s nothing to stop the unexpected event, but generally even cycling 500km a week, including a commute into town passes without incident.
I don’t cycle to try and get some incident recorded for youtube. I cycle because I enjoy it. Over the years, I’ve got more and more circumspect in avoiding conflict. There was a time when a car jumping out of a sideroad may have set me off an indignant streak and started chasing it down road. But, these days I tend to let it go. There are better things to do than try to explain to a taxi driver the rules of mini roundabouts and give way signs.
If you try, you can easily find conflict and reasons to get annoyed. If you use the roads in an aggressive way, it won’t be long before you find other road users in a very similar frame of mind. If you want conflict, you will find it. But, if you have a different mindset, travelling on roads tends to pass OK.
This is not to say I haven’t had cars reversing into me, people shooting things from a passing car, a few too many close shaves, the odd near accident. And I do feel much more vulnerable on the bicycle than when I’m driving. But, I still nod and smile to drivers far more often than I shake an angry fist. Some might say I’m too passive, but if you want to make any difference, it has to be done with a light touch or people just get very defensive. If a bus or car passes only a few inches away – I may well give it a good tap – as if to say wake up look how close you are, but that’s as far as it goes.
Basically, this is a lengthy preamble to saying I had no interest in watching a BBC documentary cobbled together from a few youtube video clips – ‘Road Wars’. It often annoys me when people review programmes without having seen me. (All those bishops condemning The Life of Brian in the 1970s, without ever having seen it springs to mind). But, it’s not really a review, just a fact, I can’t be bothered to watch a programme which tugs at your sense of self-righteousness indignation at how other people can carelessly use the roads. At the end of the day, I’d make a pretty bad bad Daily Mail columnist (or at least I hope I would)
Maybe I’m too passive, maybe I should have a video camera and report every near misses to the police. But, at the end of the day, I’m determined to keep enjoying cycling – and the best way to do that is to avoid the situation of getting worked up into road rage. Sometimes, it means swallowing your pride. Sometimes it means not thinking too much about just why the White Van has decided to do a U-turn, right in the particular section of the road.
I am aware of dangerous motoring manoeuvres, and seek, as much as possible to be prepared. But, my attitude is always defensive, I can’t change other people’s motoring behaviours, but I can make sure I keep enjoying cycling.
The BBC describe the documentary as:
“an adrenaline-filled one-off film for BBC One,” during which “viewers will be parachuted into the middle of a war that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts in The War On Britain’s Roads.”
Sounds more like a computer game than reality to me.
- Cycling, negativity and how to enjoy the bicycle (from 2008)