One major problem of cycling in the UK is other intolerant road users. This is a large reason for my preference for cross country riding – and even then I have the odd scary incident.
A country lane was flooded with the river going over as opposed to under the bridge. I waited for a car to go through, up to his floor in water, and then took my turn. Half way across, with my pedals underwater at the bottom of the swing, a BMW didn’t even pause – coming at me, putting a bow wave right over my bike and soaking my saddle… Clearly making his dinner at the golf club was worth drenching a scummy cyclist and very nearly causing a cycle accident.
That wasn’t the scariest but it shows how even in the back lanes of Dorset you get inconsiderate idiots. Weymouth’s promenade bans cyclists at the edge of the town and forces you onto a very busy, narrow road where trucks and buses give you all of six inches of room…
Fear is a factor that discourages many from riding, which might be a major reason for less than 2% of road journeys being by bicycle in the UK. We also have some of the highest injury rates in Europe too. In 2013, 19,438 people were killed, seriously injured or slightly injured according to Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) figures.
On the roads it seems there’s a pecking order with HGVs the lions; white vans, fast aggressive cheetahs and cyclists the hapless zebra foal who can neither run fast enough or kick hard enough to survive a hit from dozens of other people who see them as a piece of meat.
Or this is how some people perceive the jungle of the commute to work. 19,500 isn’t a huge number in terms of actual journeys done every year. You may feel afraid but the statistics just don’t stand up.
The Near Miss Project was set up to assess just how often people are subjected to near miss cycle accidents on the roads. When did you last get cut up by a truck doing a left, right in front of you? When did a car pass you at 60 on a country road with a foot of room? These incidents seem to be an occupational hazard of cycling, and the scarier ones put people off riding for good. Watching them seems to put drivers off exchanging their car keys for a riding hat too.
They are currently taking voice recordings online for people to tell about specific incidents as they have had on the road. You just need a microphone on your machine (many tablets have them, as well as decent PCs) and you tell the website what happened.
You will have stories of your own – is it a jungle out there? Comment on this page anonymously and tell us what occurred. Has it put you off riding? Are you now like me, a coward who hides in the countryside? Or do you take a more proactive approach and kick cars that come too close?