YD06 RXH

Approximately 10:40 AM on Tuesday 14th February 2012, Spotland Road at the junction with St. Mary’s Gate, Rochdale.

On the approach to the lights (on red at the time), I was riding in the primary position in order to enter the right turn lane at the junction with St. Mary’s Gate. A man who appeared to be in his late thirties or early forties driving a black Vauxhall Corsa, registration YD06 RXH approached from behind and deliberately drove the car as close to the right-hand side of me as possible, attempting to force me into the left-turn lane. Being by far the most vulnerable party, I moved to the left in order to avoid being injured by this deliberate and aggressive action.

We both came to a stop at the lights, which were still red. Being in a vulnerable position, I asked, “What’s going on here then?” in a relatively calm and polite manner as the driver lowered the passenger side window. He leaned over his passenger, a woman of a similar age and proceeded to tell me that I should be over to the left, pointing to the left-turn lane, indicating that the dangerous behaviour he had just exhibited was undoubtedly deliberate. I responded by telling him that I was entirely within my rights to use the entire lane, especially as I was manoeuvring to make a right-turn. Oddly, he then called me a tosser and asked where my helmet was. Not having enough time during the traffic light cycle to make the points that the effectiveness of cycle helmets in collisions involving motorised vehicles is questionable at best, and that even if they were, there is a moral issue to be considered as to why I should wear a helmet in order to protect myself from his deliberate, dangerous and aggressive use of his motor vehicle as a deadly weapon, I instead asked him, “Where’s your helmet?” He seemed somewhat confused by this response, and our conversation was cut short somewhat by the traffic light finally cycling round to green, although he did call me a tosser again for some reason.

Coincidentally, he happened to be heading in the same direction as I was, and I saw him again after he had parked up somewhere around School Lane, near St. Chad’s Church. He saw me as I was walking my bike up Church Lane, about to resume riding (I have learned from experience that this steep, cobbled hills is not worth riding up). Again, he called me a tosser and I shouted to him as I rode away that he should re-evaluate his driving skills before he causes the death of someone’s child through his aggressive behaviour.

As a cyclist, I see first hand some examples of pretty terrible driving. What sets these sorts of experiences apart is that it wasn’t negligent, stupid or even selfish driving which put me in danger; it was an act of malice, an act of someone who had the need to intimidate someone who was more vulnerable in order to feel powerful. The driver of YD06 RXH clearly felt a perverse pleasure from the sensation of power he got through intimidating someone in a much more vulnerable position through the use of a deadly weapon, in this case a motor vehicle.

Having been through the process of reporting blatantly malicious, aggressive behaviour from motorists to the Police in the past, I know that without any video evidence or other witnesses it is likely to be a huge waste of time. It’s a shame that this type of sadistic behaviour is common enough that many cyclists are increasingly feeling the need to equip themselves with surveillance measures just to get from A-to-B on a bike.

"I hate cyclists"

Following on from my recent post on The Times’ Cities fit for Cyclists campaign, I have been inspired to write another post. “I hate cyclists” is a statement which will probably be all too familiar to anyone who sometimes uses a bike to get from A-to-B, generally said by someone who generally does not use a cycle. When you stop and think about this statement, it really is quite extraordinarily stupid. 

A cyclist is defined as “A person who rides a bicycle.” Even in a country such as the UK, where cycling rates are very low, most people still own and have at some point ridden a bicycle. Beyond the fact that I sometimes use a bicycle to go shopping or get to the train station, I may have very little in common with someone else who does the same. As with most groupings of people, people who ride a bike are a diverse bunch. Of the ones I’ve met, some of them I have liked, others I have not. For the next time someone you know says “I hate cyclists,” let’s have a quick look at some of the people they hate:

David Cameron (picture from The Overgraduate)

Arnold Schwarzenegger (picture from Zimbio)

Neil Kinnock (picture from Super Stock)

James May (picture from The Telegraph)

Tony Blair (picture from the BBC)

Albert Einstein (picture from The Argonauts)

George W. Bush (picture from About.com)

Barack Obama (Picture from Sunlit Uplands)

John Lennon (picture from Raleigh DL-1 Fan Blog)

Boris Johnson & Philip Hammond (picture from This is London)

Vin Diesel (picture from Celebuzz)

Justine Greening (picture from Wandsworth Cyclists)

Richard Hammond (picture from BikeRadar)

The Prince of Wales (picture from Who2)

Hillary & Bill Clinton (picture from 43Bikes)

Madonna (picture from Christiana About Town)

There are people in this list I admire or like, and there are people in this list I don’t like. They are a diverse group of people who just happen to have ridden bicycles. Making generalisations about cyclists, when they are such a diverse bunch is completely absurd, but then bigotry generally is absurd.