One of the more serious downsides to cycling in the UK is, “The twat factor.” I think we will all have a story about a motorist who has consciously made the decision to attempt to intimidate a cyclist with their vehicle, verbally abused a cyclist or threatened them with violence, typically attempting using the car itself as a weapon (although this is not always the case). It is a markedly different experience from the constant stream of bad behaviour from motorists which we as cyclists endure on a regular basis, such as unsafe overtakes, left hooks, cutting in and ASL/cycle lane obstruction and intrusion, to name a few. The less cynical amongst us can dismiss this kind of behaviour as a symptom of ignorance or selfishness, rather than outright bigotry or malice.

I encounter similar behaviour sometimes in a non-transport context, after all, the person who tries to assault a cyclist with his car will still be a twat when he is away from his vehicle. However, in this context this kind of behaviour is much more easy to deal with, as the playing field is much more level. When an aggressor is armoured with a few tonnes of car which can accelerate to a high speed very quickly, and the victim is, well, not, such behaviour can be particularly intimidating.

It made me think of that quote attributed to Gary Fisher;

“Anybody who rides a bike is a friend of mine.”

Whilst this particular statement is a bit too rosy to sit well with my own slightly more misanthropic world-view, it got me thinking. Whilst the man who tries to assault a cyclist with his car will still be a twat when he is away from his vehicle, his ability to harm is severely reduced. If he were to ride a bike instead of drive, I’m sure it wouldn’t make him the sort of person I’d want to call a, “Friend,” but his very existence would suddenly become less of a detriment to the lives of others. So, I have decided to modify Gary Fishers quote to fit my own view of the world;

“Anybody who rides a bike, is less of a twat than they would be if they were driving a car.”

It perhaps doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I think the sentiment is similar enough. Feel free to share your stories of these sorts of encounters in the comments.


7 thoughts on “Twats

  1. I've had a bit of fun over the years when I've caught up motorists who've cut me up badly.By the way, every cyclist should buy one of those big, heavy D locks. They are a smashing bit of kit.

  2. In the mid 1990s, an idiot Irishman tried to kill me with his back-hoe digger / JCB. I was riding in Lower Feltham, to my place of work near Hanworth park. He wanted to pass, but he could only go very slightly faster than me. He started a very slow overtake and got to the stage where the big rear tractor tyre was buzzing alongside. A car then appeared from around a bend coming the other way. Naturally, he chose to kill me by occupying the same piece of road I was cycling on, by swerving close to the high sharp-edged granite kerb. I took exception to this because I take great exception to people trying to kill me. It was rush-hour so I easily caught-up with him in the traffic. He said “It was your fault, you were going too fast” This idiocy only infuriated me, and I was intent on giving him a good pasting, but the snivelling little turd of a coward wouldn't get out of his cab. On the pavement, there just happened to be the largest traffic cone I'd ever seen – about 3 feet high, so I threw it through the open window of his cab. There was hardly enough room for it in there. I cycled-off in disgust.

  3. Some time ago, a heavily made-up air-hostess type [clearly heading towards Heathrow] driving a metallic peacock-blue Ford Fiesta approaches from behind and pulls alongside me in the right turn only lane and matches me for speed, the traffic lights are at red. She clearly knows I'm there otherwise she'd be in my lane. She's in the “I'm ignoring you, 1000 yard stare” mindset and without indicating starts to drift left into my lane because she's not going right, she's going straight ahead. Effectively she's decided to PUSH ME OUT OF THE WAY. As she gets about six inches from my handlebar, I decide that enough is enough, she needs to be reminded of my presence, so I slapped VERY HARD on the tinny roof of her car with the flat of my hand. This loud bang awakens the dangerous idiot from her zombie-like trance and she brakes hard, the lights change and I proceed. As she passes me a torrent of abusive language pours from her mouth.

  4. Ambushed by a nine year-oldIncident date 14.10.2009I was cycling home after a tiring day [20.15] along past some shops in Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey and I was aware of a group of children on the left in the gloom opposite the shops and a boy on a bike on the other side on the right. To my surprise he rode across just in-front of me and nearly too late I realised he intended to stop in the road blocking my progress. He had deliberately chosen to do this where there was a central island, effectively boxing me in. I only just managed to stop in time to avoid colliding with his rear wheel. The deliberate nature of this act became clear as he looked backwards to ensure that he'd closed the gap with the traffic island. In the aerial view below, I was travelling North-East between Hersham Road and Rydens Grove.I called him a 'stupid moron', whereupon he and his mates chorused 'stupid moron'. I then said 'you're not going to live long like that', again this was chorused back at me. I continued on my way.I estimate they were aged 8-10. I was travelling 13-14 mph immediately before the incident.Molesey, Road mid way between Hersham Road and Rydens Grove.,-0.395296&spn=0.000572,0.002037&t=h&z=20

  5. I was passed on a residential back street on Tuesday by a driver only an inch from my handlebars. When I caught up with him and asked him not to pass so close I got a stream of abusive swearing. Then he drove his car directly at me and proceeded to get out and physically assault me.My life had been put in danger, his was merely held up for a few seconds. Yet he was almost apoplectic with rage.I called the Police who informed me that 'an offence had not been committed' but they would go and 'have words' with the driver.The fact that I was assaulted and he had caused a public order offence were not dealt with even though we had witnesses from the shop outside which it happened who also informed us there were CCTV cameras covering the scene!

  6. @amoeba,It sounds like you have had a rough time cycling. Having said that, it looks like they are at least reasonably spread out. Too many negative experiences occurring in a short period of time would be more disheartening I feel.@crapbournemouthcyclist,I have had my own similar experience. Whilst the Police were initially interested in pursuing the matter, a month passed and I received a letter stating that the case had been closed, with no further explanation. It certainly made me feel like I should carry one of those big, heavy D locks instead.

  7. Pingback: Auntie’s Bloomers | Chester Cycling

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