This was originally posted to my old blog on 21 February 2017.
I often get very, very angry with drivers. Just in this last week, I was almost run over by a driver running a red light, who was on his phone while driving. I had an unpleasant exchange with another bunch of wankers in a car. There’s always more than that, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind. I am only human, and when you do something that might have killed me if I didn’t cycle defensively (I always leave room in my mind that other road users are indeed going to do that unbelievably stupid thing you reckon they surely to god won’t do) I will get angry and I may shout at you. It’s something I am striving to accomplish: to just not react. We’ll get there eventually.
Most of the time, though, if people do stuff that is just inconsiderate such as parking in a cycle lane, I’ll simply pull up behind you and sit there until you move. If we end up talking, I always make a point to smile and politely say: “Sorry this is a cycle lane!”. Today I’m really grateful that I opt for politeness unless you just nearly killed me. A driver was blocking the cycle lane, so I pulled up behind the car and waited for the driver to spot me. And waited and waited. I had some time, so I waited some more. Eventually this lady spotted me, got out of her car and walked around to me. I said my usual, and she apologised. “My car is broken down,” she explained.
So I got to express my sympathy, and ask if she’s all right. She said she’s in a bit of shock, so I expressed my sympathy and made sure someone was on their way to come and help her. Someone was, so I wished her well and went on my way.
The vast majority of people who park in cycle lanes don’t have a good excuse. But if we try to be polite to each other, we don’t end up being the dick. Empathy and politeness are probably the most essential tools we can apply to achieve safer roads.