Hit and run

After Tuesday’s hazardous ride, I was hoping for something less stressful on yesterday’s 3 hour training ride. Where shall I start: lorries driving past perilously close, a bee sting on my lip and woeful ignorance of the mantra “Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre”. This last occurred on a stretch where there’s some new traffic calming measures: an oxymoron if ever there was one.

Traffic calming measures were invented/started by the Dutch who, you may know, confine their cyclists to off road adjacent paths. Road furniture is generally created to slow the speed of traffic at junctions, roundabouts, hazards and through urban areas. It’s the stick approach to encouraging good habits. During races such as the Eneco Tour, which finished on Tuesday and was won by Tony Martin, the riders have to concentrate at all times so as not to fall foul of these many islands, bollards, humps, curbs, whatever. 

The offending piece of road furniture occurs just after a roundabout which gives way to the right and where I almost met my maker some time ago, thanks to a clapped out red Peugeot driven by a middle-aged woman. The thick white line denoting that I have right of way however remains, but the gentleman driving the clapped out Renault didn’t care. He just drove across the white line, while performing a u-turn, and cut me off. Luckily, I was alert to the potential danger and managed to avoid the car.

Likewise, a few minutes later, a car parked (as is their wont) in the cycle lane and the driver flung open the car door narrowly missing me.  Solely because, having just seen her park, I took evasive action.

The bee took me totally by surprise. For the past 5 kms or so I had been riding with a gentleman who overtook me on every rise only for me to overtake him on the subsequent descent. I had just overtaken him again when a bee stung me on the lip. I stopped and pulled out the sting. My lip was starting to feel like it does when the dentist has given you an anaesthetic. My beloved advised me only last week that if I was ever bitten I should lave the area with saliva. I followed his sound (for once) advice and my lip didn’t swell up. It, however, remains sore.

As a cyclist, I find that traffic calming measures prompt vehicles to behave in an opposite fashion to that which is intended. Generally, the road width prevents them from overtaking, so they sit behind you revving their engines until they can buzz past. However if they know the road, they’ll do anything and everything in their power to overtake you before the traffic calming measures, so as not to waste 15-30 seconds idly behind you. Should the opportunity arise, I like to point out that if they knock me off my bike it’ll delay their journey by a lot more than 30 seconds. Always assuming, of course, that they’d stop.

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