About a week ago, I posted a boring video, showing what it is usually like cycling to work. No problems, drivers leaving plenty of space when overtaking, drivers holding back whilst I go through a junction or a pinch point in primary position, lots of courtesy:
I posted this because I have been off my bike for a while following a hip replacement operation (due to premature osteo-arthritis in one hip), so I had no new horrors to post, and thought it would be nice to get away from the more eventful videos that probably give the impression that cycling to work is absolutely awful, and show that most of the time it is actually quite pleasant; the drivers are courteous, overtakers leave plenty of space, nobody tries to kill anyone, and everyone just gets along. In fact, there were three drivers in there whose behaviour was a little below par, but they weren’t so bad that I’d make any issue of it. What I have tried to capture as well in this video is the way in which I, and many other cyclists, try to interact in a positive way with other road users (mostly motorists); I try always to be aware of my surroundings, use hand signals to make my intentions crystal clear, and use a “thumb-up” sign to show appreciation for the courtesy and patience of drivers who might be held up ever so slightly by my presence.
Since then, I’ve noticed several such “boring”, uneventful videos being posted. I don’t know whether its just a coincidence, or whether I just didn’t notice them before, but it’s nice to see.
The most significant is Magnatom’s video of his trip to Amsterdam with BBC Scotland. One would expect this to be uneventful of course, given the reputation that The Netherlands has for cycling infrastructure, but the thing that struck me more than anything was the culture and attitudes of the (small number) of drivers they encountered. Cycling across the road in front of an approaching car is something I would approach with fear and trepidation here, even if I did have the priority marked on the road, but in the Netherlands it seems just natural. This serves to confirm the beliefs I expressed in my previous post on holistic thinking.
Anyway, Magnatom’s video is one that has been anticipated for a while, and the fact that it was in Amsterdam means it was expected to be uneventful compared to most UK ones. It has struck me, though, that there have been at least two other videos in the last few days in the same vein. Yesterday, CycleGaz posted a video entitled “Cycling in London”, which is just a nice video of him cycling through some of the busy roads on his commute. Again, it is nicely boring and uneventful, though I have to say that he is moving somewhat faster than I ever could.
Another YouTube poster that I follow is Cycleman2200, who rides a recumbent on some quite scary roads in the USA, with drivers making very fast overtakes, and failing to yield (give way) on some rather fast roads. Today, I saw this video from him: Motorists Giving Cyclist Excellent Clearance…Thumps Up!. Again, these are examples of excellent drivers and show that it is really not all bad.
Now, we do, fairly frequently see videos showing a single example of a driver behaving exceptionally well, but these, themselves tend to be presented as “incidents”, as though they are few and far between – perhaps Cycleman2200 is somewhat on that vein – but perhaps we need to have more of these uneventful, “boring” clips that just show how pleasant cycling to work can be most of the time. If it weren’t for the small number of arrogant, ignorant ones, it really would be very nice out there, and nothing to fear for most people. Normal service will be resumed once I can get back on my bike again.