Forgive me cyclists for I have raged.
It’s been sixty minutes since my last encounters when I denied cyclists twice.
The incidents occurred while driving home along coastal along roads that I have used for fifty years. The constrictions, curves and cambers of these roads have been learned as I walked, jogged, cycled. I have driven cars and motorbikes around these once medieval tracks with their ever changing aspects and glorious views.
This morning, I failed to anticipate that two cyclists would approach me fast from behind a mild curve in the road as I overtook two other cyclists. Both pairs were abreast and closing fast, occupying the majority of their sides of the road. And so I found myself manoeuvring to safety within a reducing gap between two pairs of suddenly irate cyclists thus antagonising both parties to whom this probably appeared life threatening. There was no risk to anything other than progress.
I responded to their fingered gestures with exasperated hand gestures of my own.
Another kilometre brought another incident. I had patiently waited to overtake a family of four cyclists who were cycling downhill in single file. There was an opportunity for overtaking them when the gradient flattened. Though the road had narrowed and was further constricted by cars parked on one side, there was ample room to overtake. Indeed, the last cyclist had waved me forward twice already. I pulled out and within metres, while abreast of the family, an oncoming cyclist appeared from around a bend some 100 m ahead. There was sufficient space for everyone except that the oncoming cyclist never slowed to yield me a safe exit from the constricted roadway. He had just come down a steep hill to sea level at speed. I think he was trying to maintain momentum for an uphill climb that faced him.
Our mutual anger caused us to exchange badly chosen words in passing.
I am truly sorry that I reacted badly. I realise that I have become frustrated by cyclists whose behaviour is at variance from when I was a cyclist myself. I always treated other road users as likely to harm me because being on a bike was a rarity. Today’s cyclists are more plentiful, more competitive and frankly, some are much less careful.
I have used these roads for half a century because I live here. I have had to use them to travel to and from my home. The pandemic has brought more cyclists to these roads than ever before. I must now adapt to the new circumstances. I must accept that these roads are lost to the motorist, they are now held by cyclists and walkers. The removal of parking facilities, the increased painting of double yellow lines and the behaviour of the self-propelled humans tells me this is likely irreversible.
So now I have come to accept that both incidents this morning could have been my own fault. Subsequent introspection has taught me that I can take responsibility. I must treat cyclists as if they are surrounded by virtual versions of the yellow boxes used to manage traffic at road intersections. I must not enter the space around the cyclists until I can see it is safe to leave that space no matter how fast or slow other cyclists approach.
Henceforth, I will try to reduce my use of these roads, eschewing the motorised passage through the wonderful scenery in penance for my misunderstandings. It will mean digressions in my journeys. I accept that it will take me longer and further and there will be higher CO2 emissions when I go shopping for the things I cannot carry without a car.
Am I forgiven?
Belinda O'Byrne says
I also find them increasingly irritating, they also drive cars but whilst cycling their position in the food chain is of paramount importance……!