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Road rage at white van driver - may have been harsh.

wod1wod1 Posts: 61
edited July 2012 in Commuting chat
So I had an incident on the way home last night, nobody hurt but I lost my cool a bit.

Cycling along a semi-rural a road between two villages. Overtaken by a small white van when cars are coming the other way a bit too close. Not super close to make me scared but much closer than I would like. Now this is not a unusual activity to be overtaken too close. I was in Secondary road position about 1 metre out from edge. As the van went past I just shook my head at his not leaving me space.

Then not 100 meters further up the road van pulls in. I cycle on past and then notice that he is talking on his mobile phone. At this point I take the opportunity to let my feelings known. No swear words or being rude I simply rock up and ask him if he was on the phone when he overtook me. As I stand over him in his small van asking him questions and stating that he never left me near enough room he has to end his phone conversation. In summary he says that he pulled into answer his phone and felt that he did leave me enough room. I firmly but not with using bad language accuse him of being distracted when he overtook me, did leave anywhere like enough room and was generally a bad driver. To be fair he did apologise and then I just left it at that.

Now having given the incident some thought I wonder if I was a bit harsh to stop and give him a piece of my mind. Ok so he did close me past but not as close as some and not very very close. I don`t want him to suddenly develop a hatred of cyclists because of it. He was better than some drivers in the fact that seemingly he did pull in to answer his phone. I think he got the worst of my anger at the last 20 cars I felt were a danger to me. My main dislike was that he over took with cars coming the other way. This is my main part I have a dilemma on cycling this part of road (my daily commute)

I tend to go for vehicular cycling. Riding almost always in secondary and in primary coming up to junctions / very slow bits in town and traffic islands etc. This generally suits me fine and dont really have a problem with other road users. However on this wider part of the A road between the two villages which is not super busy but usually an intermittent flow both ways is where in secondary most cars still overtake fairly close with oncoming traffic. It is wide enough to do so but is not as safe or as much room as I would like. Having looked at other cyclist using the road (mostly road bikes, fit and cycling at 18mph+) they use the very edge of the road and let the cars all go past and end up with more room than me in secondary (1 m out from the edge). My dilemma on this is should I take primary and be very aggressive and not let cars overtake when there is on coming traffic or to go closer to the edge. It is my normal commute, surface is ok at the edge and so not too much of a danger for unknown pot holes etc.

My other thought is that when there is a change of views between motorist and cyclists, do cyclist generally let our string of previous incidents loose our calm and hence give cyclist a name for being more bad natured than is fair for the isolate incident?


  • peatpeat Posts: 1,243
    First thing, i don't think you did anything wrong.

    If, as you say, you managed to tell the guy that what he did was uncomfortable in a calm manner then you can hope that next time he is in the situation, he will actually think about it and just wait to pass when it's clear.

    Riding secondary is fine on roads with clear lines of sight. I don't see the point of needlessly riding primary when its inappropriate as all it does is wind up drivers. And, unless the road is super, super wide (3 lane's worth wide) never ride in the gutter. All it does is encourage drivers to go for gaps that may rapidly disappear when you come across a pothole/broken glass/overhanging branch.

    Due to a cyclist's vulnerability (something that driver's who don't ride can't seem to grasp) i can't see how you can be totally subjective each and every time.

    Jerry's Final Thought: It's all about education. Driver's don't remember their cycling proficiency tests and forget what its actually like to ride a bike and not be an an air-conditioned, music pumping safety cell. However, shouting at people isn't what is needed, they need to actually experience it to understand in my opinion. Approaching a driver as you did can be a risky business as you never know what sort of nutjob they will be.

    Look after yourself, aaaaaand each other.
  • I think your well cheeky.

    You stated he didn't pass that close yet you still gave him a piece of your mind? For what exactly? What did it prove?

    Had I not committed any traffic offence and you pulled over to me, potentially whilst I'm on a really important call, just to be a jobs worth, you'd probably rue that decision for the rest of your day :lol:
  • wod1wod1 Posts: 61
    Talking on a mobile phone when driving is a traffic offence. Given that I simply asked initially if he was on the phone when he passed me. He stated which I am happy to take at face value that it was ringing but he only answered it when he stopped. In my mind had there been an accident being distracted by thinking about the phone ringing would have been enough to suggest driving with due care and attention - also a traffic offence.

    With regards to how close is too close. It was not so close as to hit me but close by normal standards. It is the old story that if there is no contact then it could be seen as giving enough room.
  • dhopedhope Posts: 6,699
    wod1 wrote:
    Talking on a mobile phone when driving is a traffic offence.
    Think Giggsy wasn't being serious when talking about the really important call
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  • He wasn't on the phone whilst he was driving, he had pulled over - at least he had the good grace to do that. THAT isn't an offence. Considering he passed so close, i'm sure that if he was on the phone, you would have noticed.

    Ultimately your looking for a problem when one doesn't exist. Your not the only road user and why you think that everyone else has to be so submissive to your presence is a strange one.

    As you initially described the driver did absolutely nothing wrong yet you decided to have a go at him. Weird. Anger management issues perhaps ???? :shock:
  • wod1wod1 Posts: 61
    Yes, openly admitted in the thread title "may have been harsh" that I may have been a bit angry. But I didn`t feel that I showed that anger in a negative way and most definitely didn't insult, shout or swear. It would be easier option in many ways to just let it go but I was concerned by how close he pass at reasonable speed that I certainly was watching his van wing and back very closely so would not have seen if he was on the phone or not at the time.

    As for him not doing anything wrong, In my mind I feel it is wrong to pass a cyclist when oncoming cars in the other lane, Not in sight but pass as the overtaking occurs so I am squeezed due to the road needing to have me in secondary position, one car in the same direction as me partly over the centre line and an on coming car which has no option but to yield slightly further left to avoid the overtaking car. This was the discussion on this issue after with regards to road position. I dont think primary position is an option as it is being inconsiderate and winds up the motorist but am I in the wrong to think that cyclists should just fully accept cars going past close to me with cars coming the other direction? With regards to not moving into the gutter as mentioned by the previous comment - I feel that by moving left it would give me the 0.5m extra room that I would like as cars pass when cars are coming the other way rather than them passing me anyway from secondary and passing close. My current thinking is that I always have room to move left if I feel someone is too close but when they are passing at say 50-70mph and to look behind and then move doest not allow much time to move left.

    In general I would say that most road users are generally respectfully of cyclists but I have a bit of an issue on this part of the road which I appreciate may just be wishful thinking of a perfect world where vehicles only overtake when it is clear.

    I have attached a picture of said road.

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