Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Rush hour fun

Last night I foolishly went for a ride at around 5:30 pm, just as all the roads filled with frustrated commuters on their way home.

About a mile from home I had to turn right from a side road onto a busy main road. Sod's law dictated that every time there was a gap in the traffic heading east there was no gap in the traffic heading west. And vice versa. So it was quite long wait.

Several minutes went by.

It was mildly irritiating, but more than the driver behind me could handle. He switched into the left lane, as though he had changed his mind and decided to turn left instead of right.

Unfortunately, it turned out that he had actually decided that he could make a right turn more quickly if he pulled alongside my left side, waited for the same gap in the traffic that I was waiting for, then defied the laws of physics, and beat me across two lanes of a busy road in a rusty old hatchback.

But I didn't know that. When, eventually, a gap arrived, I pulled out as normal, while he screeched off trying to beat me into the opposite lane. Then he realised that I hadn't bottled out, and was now riding straight across his path. So he had no choice but come to an abrupt stop.

Within seconds the next stream of traffic arrived behind him. I am still a bit wider than a bike, but not that much, and by then I was tucked neatly into the lane, as planned, and there would have been plenty room for the next wave of cars to pass me. Unfortunately he was still positioned diagonally across the lane, fumbling to get going again. Much honking of horns.

Over the next few miles I was overtaken three times on fairly narrow roads, by drivers who couldn't be expected to drive below the speed limit, so had to use the opposite lane to get past me. It was still busy, so they cut things a bit fine in front of oncoming cars, and caused more honking of horns.

Four drivers have probably got home cursing a cyclist that held up their journey, and four other drivers have got home cursing a driver that got in their way.

None of this is particularly dangerous or frightening. But it did leave me thinking that I need to find a route for that time of day where I don't come across quite so many people with an odd perspective on life and priorities.

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