In October I rode to Rochdale during rush hour. Yesterday I made the same journey again, although this time due to the time change and the time of year it was dark the whole way there.View Larger Map
The route was the same as previously but the change in conditions led to a pronounced increase in the douchebaggery of motorists. Thanks in part to sport-cycling lobbies I cycled in the only viable manner, vehicularly, due to a lack of any useable infrastructure. Sadly, lobbies such as the CTC represent members who are largely interested in preserving their right to the road for those Sunday club rides. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be able to go on Sunday club rides, but for a hobby/sporting lobby to inform government policy on something which is primarily a mode of transport is really very detrimental to cycling. Imagine if the government listened to the lobbying on the FIA on motoring matters, we might have an F1 circuit in every city but private motor vehicles would not even be allowed on public roads (which would be great).
On the ride there I was recklessly endangered by motorists numerous times, the worst of whom overtook me at a set of lights which had turned amber as I was riding through them. The driver of MJ51 HXC sped through the same set of lights after they had turned red and then overtook me with mere millimetres to spare. I happened to catch him at the next set of lights and firmly but civilly challenged him about his behaviour. He wound down the windows leading to the following productive exchange:
Me: You nearly killed me back there, that overtake was really dangerous.
Neanderthal: You were riding in the middle of the fucking road.
Me: I have every right to ride in “The middle of the fucking road.”
Neanderthal: Do you want me to fucking punch you?
Me: Yeah, I’m sure you’re going to do that.
Neanderthal: I’ll get out of this car and fucking knock you out.
Me: Sure, go on then, I’m sure you will.
[Neanderthal Drives off]
If it were not for the recent experiences of The Cycling Lawyer I would have reported the incident to the Police. Seeing as cyclists now know that the Police aren’t interested in upholding the laws which are designed to protect them, I decided to allow the exchange to become less civil. What is most worrying to me is that his defence for his reckless driving was that I was riding in the middle of the lane, which I am allowed to do by statute. He is merely licensed to use the roads based on his ability to behave appropriately and he should behave as such. The Police and CPS could do with reminding of that fact too.
The other main reckless motorists were a Ring and Ride driver who overtook extremely dangerously and another bad overtake by a private vehicle. Someone tried to cut me up whilst coming to a stop at a set of lights, they tried to squeeze me towards the kerb. This occurred at a very low speed so I decided it would be safe for me to refuse to give in to this bullying and they were forced to stop and before finishing the cutting-up manoeuvre to avoid scuffing their paint. One of the most annoying incidents was at Big Lamp roundabout in Shaw:
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
After going through the above ordeals I was understandably a bit less forgiving than usual. Roundabouts are inherently anti-cyclist, tackling them is very difficult for many cyclists because of the speed required to get through a roundabout in relative safety, combined with the observation that almost no-one in any vehicle seems very sure about what they are supposed to do on a roundabout. I was attempting to take the second exit when two lanes of cars waiting at the next road decided that because I was only a cyclist they would attempt to forcibly steal my right of way. This has taught me a new cycling top tip which I may not have discovered had it not been for my pre-existing exasperation; Screaming, “For fuck’s sake!” at the top of your lungs is necessary and sufficient to stop motorists from stealing your right of way on roundabouts.
At around 10 pm I made the return journey. The lack of cars made the return trip an absolute delight, I was tired but made better time than on the way there. It seems obvious now that the solution to Manchester’s traffic woes is to remove private motor vehicles from our roads. When I got home I noticed my day total on the odometer was 59 km, pretty good for a work day.