As I approached the left turn off the A537 into Seven Sisters Lane I could see flashing blue lights in the distance, and a marshall waving at me to slow down. As I did so, I turned slowly into the lane and there were several police cars and an ambulance there, surrounding a TT rider on the floor. I came to a halt and I could see he was conscious, what looked like his knee was bleeding and he was being tended by the paramedics and the marshalls who man that corner on J2/9. I briefly thought about abandoning until a lady marshall walked over and told me to carry on, if I could get through the traffic. So I did.
That’s the second TT accident in the last few weeks. I’ve no idea if this was the riders fault this time but regardless, cyclists are very vulnerable and I don’t think drivers realise it. I’d been buzzed on the A537 by a driver who went past me at about 40mph and was literally inches from my right side. I had nowhere to go and the wash from the car physically moved the bike.
I’ve been following a twitter account called @cyclehatred, which highlights people posting very negative things about cyclists. It’s depressing, and even if most of the comments are throwaway tweets, they are a sad indictment of how some peoples minds work.
- “Spotted two cyclists get mown down today! Would like to thank the motorists for doing what all drivers want to do!! Bloody cyclists!!!!”
- “One thing, I think, we can all agree on is that Cyclists who cycle right in the middle of the road alongside cars deserve to die”
- “Hate bloody cyclists”
- “Fucking hate cyclists”
- “When you just wanna give those cyclists in the middle of the street a little nudge with your car to help them speed up”
- “I hate cyclists on the road, always in the way, will be under my car soon, all of you!”
These are all real tweets from people over the last couple of weeks. Pathetic doesn’t do it justice, and I wonder if they realise that cyclists are real people with families, children and dependents. Now I’m sure all the men and women posting these comments would try to defend them, and it seems to have some level of acceptability that it wouldn’t have if you replaced the word “cyclist” with a similar racial or religious collective noun. And usually the justification will include road tax, cycling test (lack of), holding up traffic and jumping red lights.
The tax one is easy – it’s vehicle excise duty based on emissions and roads are paid for from general taxation. Most cyclists have taken their driving test and therefore have passed a test on the highway code. Most cars hold me up on my commute, and every cyclist is one less car. Even so, unless you are transporting organs for a transplant, being held up for 30 seconds is not a life or death thing, unless you count seriously injuring me with your impatience. Stand at a traffic light anywhere busy and count the number of cars that go through on amber and yes, red. That’s one ton metal boxes, not bikes. (At the same time, take a look at how many motorists are using their mobile phones. Not overtly, to their ears. Covertly, beneath the window line – text or email?)
As cyclists we are very vulnerable on the road. All I would like is for motorists to take time to overtake me when it is safe to do so, as they would do for another car, and by passing me with some distance between us. And don’t be so impatient.
It’s not hard.