Contemplating my penchant for attracting nut cases, immediately after the incident I heard on the radio that a bicyclist in his 50s was killed zooming down a hill on a busy thoroughfare training for an upcoming race. I walked into a room where a television report displayed a mug shot of the poor guy who hit the cyclist, as if he was a murder suspect.
He is a respected retired surgeon who is now burdened with the emotions of killing a person when fault in the accident is unclear: can a driver of an automobile be responsible for hitting a cyclist zooming down a steep hill at full speed? The doctor has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. The cyclist leaves behind his wife, two daughters, a son and four grandchildren.
This tragedy should not have happened. But it did because a zealous percentage of bicyclists believe they own the roads built for motor vehicles. This cadre of extreme cyclists appears to be increasing in numbers, some imbued with righteous dedication that makes them think they have the moral right-of-way, as well as blamelessness when they place themselves in harm’s way against motorized vehicles.
Around our way, we don’t seem to get the aggressive nutter cyclists so much. There are many bikes but they tend to be pedalled along the double yellows, they keep out of the way and use hand signals.
They wear no lycra.
However, the other day I was cycling up the main road near my place and saw a cyclist on the footpath to my left and ahead. I was sure he saw me and I was about to wave a greeting when he just launched himself into his manoeuvre which was to do a U turn and it involved the bit of road in front of me.
What a total a*****l*. Such arrogance. He’d assessed my speed up the slight incline, noted my age and had drawn a conclusion that he could safely ignore this road user. I toyed with the idea of ramming him – oh sorry, squire, couldn’t stop when you tore onto the road like that, hope there’re no hard feelings, wot.
He’ll try that with a car, will be splattered and sorry if still alive and I would find sympathy hard to come by for him.
The only other incident I recall was taking the bike on the train – I tend to go down the end no one wants to be and wish they had a carriage for bikes so we don’t clash with other commuters but it’s still a bit early in this country for that, it seems.
So, my bike was in the rack for the purpose, with me perched on the nearby single seat and on gets someone with a bike. He had the whole ensemble – the short bike pants, the closefitting top, the helmet, waterbottles, pannier bags, the whole kaboodle – the thin tyres. And he was weird, an anorak.
After a few moments, it was apparent he was hovering near me and then it dawned – he was actually willing me to move, to take my bike and let him put his there. Perhaps he reasoned I had to get off soon though why he’d think that, I don’t know.
Trouble was, my stop was the next one and I was tossing up overrunning it and keeping him standing there. I didn’t. When I got up and tried to take the bike through, he was blocking the way.
He shuffled it across a few inches. Still I couldn’t get through. He shuffled his bike some more inches. I was seriously rqcking the brain thinking up ways I could inconvenience him. I thought of saying to the lady sitting on another seat with three others – madam, this seat is free.
Finally he moved just enough to get by with difficulty.
What is wrong with these people? does cycling attract greenies and nutters by its very nature, does it attract people with no idea of the road law? Surely they, like me, are ex or even concurrently motorists and know the vicissitudes of motoring, factoring that in in their approach to other road users.
Not a bit of it, it seems. And it dawns again that perhaps these people have only ever commuted by public transport and no they’re on the road, they have no knowledge of how to approach it.
In this country we’re still mercifully free of uberregulation of cyclists but even so, to use the roads, one should surely have to have some knowledge of road laws and etiquette. No?
In the end, it’s just courtesy and common sense. If that woman is doing her makeup and talking on her phone whilst driving with her knees, it’s probably not a good idea to mix it with her car. It’s an idea to avoid trucks driven by men with tatts. That sort of thing.
And making eye contact is important, plus a sweet smile and a handwave as they wave you through and so on. So I can’t see why these cyclists we’re hearing about and seeing do what they do. Is it a death wish?