Archive for July, 2011

Bad ideas

July 29, 2011

I’ve had a tough couple of days on the road and I suppose this kind of post was inevitable and is often found in bike blogs the world over.

But first for those interested the Yuba and the Elation are going strong 4 days and maybe 50ks per week, Everything ticking along beautifully.

I have some very set routines in my bike travel and some very tried and true routes. Two days per week I travel in evening peak hour on the very busy but very slow moving Cleveland Street in Inner Sydney. Until now I have not had a problem. I keep up a cracking pace and really only the most inpatient driver could ever accuse me of holding anyone up.

So this week for some reason I have had my life threatened with a car two days in a row. All cyclists have at some point experienced the the close pass but this it the first time I have experienced a driver purposefully changing lanes to drive directly at me; both drivers missing me by maybe 12 inches.

The thing that has shaken me is that these “attacks” were completely unprovoked, not the aftermath of some incident or exchange of words as might be expected if not condoned.

I was simply riding on the road. Indeed this is what the 2nd driver accused me of. “Get off the road you *&;^%&;$*” is about as intelligent as his explanation got as I rode up next to him only 20 metres on. He went on the say he hadn’t touched me and that next time he would hit me! Great death threats..just what I need. To be honest despite his foul language and bravado, I could see in his eyes and hear in the tone of his voice that he wasn’t comfortable being confronted like this (especially when I pulled out my iphone and asked him to repeat his threats, which he wouldn’t). So maybee he will think twice next time. Maybe.

Maybe I’ll think twice about riding on that road again, or riding at all if I can drive, it would be a sensible personal reaction to this kind of thing. So if they are trying to scare me off, it might just have worked.

It was not smart of me to approach him at all, I know this, but in these situations, adrenalin often gets the better of me (as with most males). I mean how do you feel when your life is threatened?

Why does this happen and what can we do about it?

Maybe these are just bad people, but I think they are more often good people with a bad idea. In Sydney and other parts of Australia the print and commercial radio media is in bike story overdrive. There are weekly news stories and shock jock tirades, mostly related to some controversy over bike path infrastructure, but always with an anti-bike slant.

Is this emerging antibike sub-culture giving weak minded individuals a bad idea, swerve at bikes?

What to do? Smile, be courteous, move over, wave drivers past, ring my bell? Well ask me again next week because this week I say *&^% that…

What we need is more bikes, riding in small groups. Mostly in Sydney bike don’t ride together, we are like lone antelope surrounded by leopards, but really there are enough of us around now to form little groups and I’m convinced that this would be safer even if it doesn’t lead to more acceptance from good drivers with bad ideas.