I have discovered that one of the pitfalls of cycling is that it fosters a dislike of car drivers. I can’t drive myself. I didn’t take very well to learning to drive and sort of gave up after I failed my third driving test. Because of this I’ve always been slightly impressed by people who have mastered a skill that alludes me. All that has changed since I have started cycling around North London; ‘impressed’ has turned into down right annoyed.
A car is rather big and heavy and a person on a bike small and vulnerable. One would like to assume that this would give car drivers a sense of care around cyclists. No such luck. Instead I am finding that they opt for horn honking, driving as close to you as possible and generally looking very put out that you should be on the road at all.
Now, I am very well aware that almost everyone in London moves about as though their journey is the most important one ever undertaken. Indeed, I am sure that sometimes I adopt this attitude myself . I can frequently be found striding about the tube, probably late for something and carrying a millions bags, and getting very irritated with people who decide to dawdle along in front of me and then even worse stop for a nice little chat….. Luckily for the dawdlers and chatters there is very little about me that could be found intimidating however annoyed I may be. I’m 5 foot 2 with rather cheerful looking curly hair and quite a small build; literally no-one had ever been scared of me and I couldn’t hurt anyone even if I wanted to (I’ve been in one ‘fight’ in my life – and I ran away and hid behind someone…).
On the other hand an angry person in a car is very intimidating. More so when it is your very presence that has annoyed them. The roads near by house are often narrow and once everyone has parked their car down the side there isn’t sufficient room remaining for both a bike and a car. So sadly for the car drivers sometimes they have to wait behind a bike for a little while until they can overtake. I accept that this is probably very annoying but it can’t add more than a minute or two to their journey. I don’t think there is any need for a car to drive right up my arse and starting to rev his engine and then toot his horn until I pull over and let him get on with his very important business as happened to me last night. (I am at a loss to see what is that important at half 7 on a Friday but there you go).
Maybe one day I will learn to drive and then I will change my mind but right now I’m wondering what kind of person thinks it’s okay to use a big metal box and the damage it could cause to frighten and intimate someone who is in the most vulnerable position on the road.