A random act of abuse on a beautiful day

Cycling along Acres Lane in Great Altcar yesterday was glorious; the countryside and weather were just right for peddling. However, someone had to spoil it and they achieved that by abusing a fellow cyclist all because they had been slowed down by a bike. Indeed, instead of simply safely passing the cyclist, they had to draw up alongside wind down the passenger window and take a bit more of their day to ensure they were fully understood by the cyclist, if you get my drift!

So what was it all about? Testosterone, selfishness, petrol-headedness, intimidation of a more vulnerable road user – your guess is as good as mine but one thing I have yet to see as a daily cyclist around Sefton and West Lancashire Boroughs is for such behavior to be exhibited by a female driver. Yes, abusing/intimidating cyclists is very much a male-dominated hobby in my experience.

And what you might ask was my fellow cyclist doing other than peddling along a country lane to get this chap so upset? Nothing at all, he was simply going about his lawful business, following the Highway Code and enjoying his day.

When I’m cycling pedestrians are the most vulnerable things on the road. When I’m driving pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists are the most vulnerable things on the road. It’s the mindset of drivers who think they are the most important thing on the road that’s dangerous. Powered vehicles are never the most important, except on a Motorway.

Yes, I’m fully aware that some (usually male) drivers very much disapprove of cyclists and that they think we should not be allowed on our roads. I’ve even had one barmy driver tell me to get onto the pavement, which of course is telling me to do something which is illegal (although rarely enforced)!

Photo from Cycling UK showing the likely chage to the Highway Code for passing a cyclist.

Cycling UK, of which I’m a member, recently told me that many UK police forces had taken part in a campaign (#OperationClosePass Day) to tackle close-passing of cyclists. This practice is sadly a regular thing you get used to but it’s dangerous and often caused by poor driving or even done deliberately to intimidate cyclists. The Highway Code presently says a driver should leave as much room as possible when passing a cyclist but that is soon to be changed to a more specific distance to leave beween a cyclist and a passing/overtaking vehicle. I raise this aspect now of course because close-passing of cyclists is very much related to the kind of driver behaviour which I observed yesterday.

I’ve asked both Lanashire Police & Merseyside Police to publish information about how they participated in the safety campaign but have yet to hear back from either Force. The idea, as I understand it, was to send out coppers on cycles, dressed in plain clothes/cycling gear, so that they could identify bad/dangerous drivers who were not observing a safe passing distance when overtaking. I’ll let you know what I get back from Lancs & Merseyside Police.

Virually all cyclists are drivers too but many drivers are not cyclists. Cycling is getting more and more popular for fitness and environmental reasons so the conflict bewtteen cyclists going about their lawful riding with drivers who want them off our roads is only going to become a bigger issue. The police really need to tackle dangerous and intimidatory driving that’s why initiatives like #OperationClosePass Day are so important.

One thought on “A random act of abuse on a beautiful day

  1. CJ says:

    Well said, Tony. And we must not forget what happened last summer: the tragic deaths of Peter Dowd’s daughter in Lunt, and the Police Officer in Altcar, near Formby. Both were killed by people who were supposed to be in control of a machine that is very easily capable of mass murder. See also: Nice 2016, when 86 people were mowed down by a truck. Not a gun, not a bomb, not a knife frenzy. *A truck*.
    Such incidents can often be airbrushed out of the news very swiftly and easily as mere “accidents”, where the victim has been killed by “a car”, not a driver.
    The public have become immune to road deaths, as if it were a fact of life. As if road deaths are just a perfectly normal consequence of leaving your house.
    You don’t need to be a driver or cyclists to suffer at the hands of other incompetent drivers either. Last June, while a dad and his two kids were walking along a pavement near their home in Dalton, Cumbria, a drunk driver ploughed his car into them – killing them all.
    That incident had nothing to do with pedestrians crossing the road or walking in the road. They were meant to be on a safe, segregated footway, but still they weren’t protected enough from this bone-headed caveman, who was too drunk to be in control of his murder machine.

    I’ll be very surprised if the Police get back to you about the Close-pass Operation, but please do keep us informed.

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