Bristol Traffic is a website supposed to be about getting around town by car but, in fact, it’s a keyword-laden lure to convert motorists to the joys of city cycling. In a posting today, the site passes on a genuine email from a rattled cyclist. A motorist – dring a black SUV, registration number WP07CCE – shouted at the cyclist for daring to claim the lane, an assertive cycling technique now enshrined in Bikeability training courses.
Naturally, one of the key complaints from the driver was the fact the road user, as a cyclist, “didn’t pay road tax.”
The driver decided to overtake on the blind corner. This was despite the fact that I had taken the lane to round the corner to discourage such a dangerous manoeuvre. It being a blind corner he couldn’t see the cars coming around the corner towards us and swerved back in towards the curb to avoid them, very narrowly missing crushing me. All this so that he could pull up and wait at the red light around the corner.
As his window was open while he queued at the red light I took the opportunity to very calmly and nicely ask him to please not do that again to anyone as he could very easily kill or injure someone. That is all I wished to say and I started to cycle away.
His response was to shout that I “shouldn’t be in the middle of the road” and should “keep to the edge”. When I explained that I had moved to the centre of the lane to discourage anyone from overtaking on a dangerous blind corner his reply was that I had to keep to the side unless I was going to “pay tax to use the roads” and that was within his rights to pass so close as he pays to use the road.
How many drivers have the same mind-set? How many genuinely believe cyclists belong only in the gutter and for them to stray into parts of the road given over to motorists is tantamount to ‘asking for it’?
Sadly, it’s too many. There are countless thousands – perhaps even millions – who believe this tosh. And it explains why the Merc driver in the BBC Look East video below knocked into the cyclist from behind. The Merc driver was expecting the cyclist to stop in the gutter, behind the illegally-parked car, and wait for him to pass.
For deluded drivers, a cyclist ‘claiming their road space’ is an alien concept. How can a cyclist claim road space when it’s wrong of them to do so? Motorists have rights; cyclists have responsibilities, goes the wonky thinking. And the biggest responsibility is to get out of the way of those who pay for the road, and therefore own the road.
Classic bullying behaviour, of course, but with a lot of vehicular weight to back up their delusions of grandeur.