Beautiful Views, Ugly Driving

I’ve been on cat-feeding duty this week and this means an extension to the normal cycle from home into Halifax. It more or less doubles the length of the journey. This is no bad thing, especially as the road climbing from my house to the ridge that forms the boundray between Calderdale and Kirklees has just been resurfaced and the views can be spectacular…

…if you ignore the electricty pylons that string themselves between Yorkshire and Lancashire. What you can’t ignore, certainly from the perspective of a cyclist, are the annoying ‘pinch points’ that are the plague of roads across this country. Here’s one that I have squeezed myself through many times this week:

They are potential death traps. My tactic as a ‘defensive’ cyclist is to move the bicycle further away from the kurb than normal and put myself and the bike in a position in the road that makes it impossible for any vehichle behind me to even contemplate squeezing through. Earlier this week this resulted in a man who was driving a Range Rover (which in turn was towing a caravan) and who can only be described as an utter arse, venting his frustrations. It made for an interesting comment thread when I posted my experience to Twitter:

Why in God’s name do the highway engineers of Britain consider than such ‘pinch points’ are ever a good idea? If they want to provide a safe way for pedestrians to cross the road, install a pedestrain crossing. If they want to stop cars crashing into each other, impose speed restrictions or instal traffic calming devices. Don’t just stick a traffic island in the road thereby creating a potentially lethal narrowing of the carriageway. Your average motorist will only see it as a challenge to his or her self-imposed (and deluded) road supremacy at the expense of any passing cyclist who just happens to be in the way.

Rant over…

Categories: Cycling, Photography

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6 replies »

  1. Society in general has become intolerant of anyone who is different to what each group considers the norm – possibly due to the political situation and this seems to have filtered down. Like you I find a great intolerance to cyclists and I too pull out to stop cars squeezing me into the kerb – most don’t like it and can be abusive. I really don’t know what the answer is –

    • You are so right Brenda. I think there can be a general lack of respect by some people. Sadly this also includes fellow cyclists. I’ve witnessed some atrocious behavior towards motorists when there has been no justification.

      Tolerance and respect for others is what is needed in every part of life. Unfortunately the example set by those who should know better is not good.

  2. Is there a correlation between bad behavior and certain makes of vehicles?

    This week I was cycling through a small village on my way to work. Cars park down one side of the street ( my side) but I was still able to squeeze in my side of the central white line. I could hear the car behind me but kept going as I had every right. I was only 200m from work anyway. When I pulled in the guy blew his horn and gesticulated angrily.
    Yes…….a Range Rover!

    • BMW and Audi mainly cause me problems. They appeal to people who have a few years under their belts but haven’t quite grown up and still want something powerful and Teutonic. I did have an encounter in North Devon with a Range Rover this Summer that was disturbing because it came so out of the blue. I was going downhill along a narrow lane, too narrow for the vehicle behind me to pass. I was travelling quite fast so there was no reason for the driver behind me to be impatient. When we came to a village and the lane widened he passed my and there was a shout of “Bastard” from in the car, for what I don’t know. Where the lane joined the main road I pulled up next to the car and calmly asked what the problem was. The two occupants just sat and stared forward until they could pull away. Less calm individuals might have ripped off his wing mirror.

  3. Yup. I refer to it as the Clarkson Mentality. Cyclists are viewed not as fellow road users but as a challenge. Round my neck of the woods (Worcester and Droitwich) the countryside is being heavily built upon and consequently the roads are now clogged up with more cars than they can cope with. So what do they do? You guessed it – they put pinch points and sets of traffic lights everywhere they can fit them. One new set of lights has led to traffic queueing for almost half a mile and another causes tailbacks of traffic onto a very busy island. The consequence? Angry drivers. Woe betide any cyclist they meet.

What do you think?