I am, as you may have gathered if you’ve read my other articles on this site, a driver and a ‘petrolhead’. But, I’m also an enthusiastic cyclist – I spent a year riding from Kings Cross to Waterloo on a regular basis - and I ride a motorbike. I'm a neutral through and through.
There was a documentary on the BBC this week that claimed to ‘highlight the battle between cyclists and drivers’ on the roads of London. In actual fact, all it did was highlight how chock full of morons this country’s roads are. It was an hour of idiots behaving like idiots on two wheels and four.
Over-reactions galore, terrible observation from everyone and an attitude on both sides that stinks worse than the air in a bike tyre.
Let’s deal with the cyclists first.
The issue the riders in this documentary and cyclists in general have is an apparent belief that being right will stop them from being killed, which is nonsense. Combine this with truly moronic riding for a depressing sense of deadly inevitability.
I’d like to single out the young chap with the glasses who appears at the start of the programme in particular for weapons grade idiocy by creating that completely unnecessary situation with the cab driver. If he’d had any sense he would have just let him go, the berk. Positioning yourself in the middle of the road is also not acceptable (if you want to stay alive). The guy’s an idiot: he’s too aggressive and he’s going to get himself killed.
The footage from cyclists is a litany of poor judgement, arrogance and sad stories and wincing prangs that simply didn’t need to happen.
Even the police are guilty of appalling cycling. About 14 minutes in (on the BBC’s iPlayer) one of the bike cops is chasing a motorbike. Having first ridden along the path, into the road and pulled out to overtake a line of other cyclists – all without even a hint of observation - he overtakes a van, which is clearly braking (the three red lights on the back should have been his clue). Common sense should have told him that he’s probably reacting to something that’s happening ahead, which the copper can’t see because he’s positioned himself in such a way that he’s completely blocked his view of the road ahead. Sure enough, the van’s letting a taxi out from the curb, and he nearly crashes in to it. The reaction of the professional? “This taxi’s pulled out in front of me, so I get my senses together.” Bollocks. He nearly rode into it – key difference. Then, for good measure, plod rides the wrong way up what appears to be a one way street. I close my eyes and pinch the bridge of my nose.
I’m not ignoring the girl that was killed by the cement truck, but I’m not going to talk about it.
Now for the drivers, and you’ll have to excuse my language but: Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
If the cyclists in this programme are arrogant, over-confident and endowed with a bizarre feeling of ‘in-the-moment’ indestructability, the drivers are the opposite: lazy, inattentive, unobservant cretins guilty of appalling driving and a shocking lack of knowledge of the rules of the road.
Roundabouts seem to be the best place for getting yourself killed on a push bike and that doesn’t surprise me. I have been involved in a single accident in my 13 years behind the wheel, and it was identical to almost every near-miss and collision in the doc: someone drove on to a roundabout without looking and wiped me out. The rules of these wonders of traffic management are not complicated: give way to the right, don’t enter the roundabout unless your exit is clear, those already established on the roundabout have right of way. But despite this simplicity, it’s a triplet of rules that seem to completely escape nearly every moron with a driving licence.
Then you have the people that somehow manage to drive around in the dark with no lights on, text or, apparently, sit in the drivers’ seat looking at nothing other than that which appears directly in front of their windscreen. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots.
Regardless of the driving standards on display, the kind of people in the cars or, more specifically, those who decide to get out of the cars – and again, you’ll have to excuse my language – are just cunts. The fact that people like this are allowed to keep their balls, breed and produce more little cunts to be made in their cunt parents’ image upsets me hugely.
But this is why the programme sort of strayed away from the issue it was supposed to be addressing. What I watched wasn’t actually a documentary about cycling on the roads, I watched a programme about how varying grades of bellend create and then react to different situations. The fact that these people are on bikes or, for the most part, in/out of cars is largely irrelevant – the issue is one of people’s attitude in general and an anti-Darwinian epidemic of stupidity within the human race.
What’s the solution? There isn’t one. It seems to be a sad fact that the vast majority of the people with whom we share this planet are idiots unable or unwilling to put brain in gear before putting their own, or the lives of others in danger by getting on a push bike or getting in to a car.
What’s the problem in the context of this programme? Most drivers can’t drive. Most cyclists can’t ride. Simple. If you’re a driver: assume that everyone around you sucks at what they’re doing (because they do); if you’re a cyclist: assume everyone is out to kill you (because they are, even if they don’t know that). If everyone adhered to those rules, we’d kill a lot less people.