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almost knocked someone off their bicycle today and did not handle it well

(13 Posts)
arabella2 Sat 09-Jul-05 19:58:14

I am normally careful about cyclists on the road when I am driving, slowing down if necessary for a long time until it is safe to drive past them. Today I don't know what happened - I was driving with dh and kids in the car down a busy road and this girl really wobbled on her bicylce and it seemed she got in the way of the car (well, this is what it seemed like to me) so I hooted (?!) which I would never normally have done as I don't think it is safe to do that to a cyclist - however I must have thought it was okay at that point as I was driving past her and could gauge the distances.. Anyway, am rambling. So her friend then starts telling me off so I gesticulated to him (not rudely) that she had been weaving all over the place. She then cycles up and starts banging on the window (whether because she thought she had been in real danger due to me (and her weaving), or because of the hoot I don't know). So we roll it down and dh tells her she was weaving - she was shouting angrily at me. So I could have just left it at that but no I start shouting that she was weaving and should not have been on the road etc... Dh tells me to shutup and stop being a fishwife (though I was only saying what he had just said) and I drive off. We then had a HUGE row about that and other major things and it took me ages to stop crying. He told me that yes she was weaving but I was driving in the gutter and could have knocked her over and had not been prepared to slow down. So now I think maybe he was right and why the hell did I do that? Showing off because he was in the car - hugely knackered (kids up several times a night every night and youngest is 15 months old) - very premenstrual and also feel terrible about what happened in London (where I live), really terrible about it so all this might have put me in some sort of awful coma where I almost knock cyclists over. But what if I had knocked her over - it is true that even if she was weaving the onus is on me to keep my distance. Also, I should have just apologised but her anger fired me up and I got very defensive. Feel awful that I came so close to what could have been killing someone and I can't even contact them to say sorry... But to be honest don't know what happened at the time exactly (apart from her weaving) but then I suppose that is how accidents happen, when you least expect them. Now don't think I should drive at all until I have sorted out kids' sleep -for 3.5 years now I have not had a full night's sleep and I think it has affected my brain.

gigglinggoblin Sat 09-Jul-05 20:06:31

being tired definately affects driving, but there are a lot of cyclists out there who are idiots too. i would put it down to experience and not drive if you dont feel able - dont think you have to do it, there is always an alternative, is just usually a bit more hassle

tabitha Sat 09-Jul-05 20:17:51

I would just put it down to experience and be grateful nothing worse happened than a few angry words. Probably tiredness and being upset about what happened in London didn't help and for your own sake you probably should try and get your kids sleep sorted out - 3.5 years without a proper sleep sounds like hell to me - but don't beat yourself up over it. As the events of two days show, life really is too short
Also for all you know the cyclist may be sitting at home upset because she had a row with you and regretting it as well.

nooka Sat 09-Jul-05 20:21:53

As a cyclist I think that many drivers are incredibly intolerent and give cyclists inadequate space on the road. Driving in London is very stressful anyway, but yes you should have given her extra space (especially if she was weaving, as I'm sure you really wouldn't have wanted her to hit your car). Having said I have also watched some cyclists do incredibly dangerous things.

The trouble is that you can't really know in hindsight who was to blame. As with most things it was probably a mix of both. I hate being beeped at, it's a very alarming (and loud!) sound. But then I would never bang on a car either (I had a friend who did that and was punched by the driver).

If you haven't had a good nights sleep for a long time then doing something about that would be a good idea regardless! You must be in serious sleep deprivation, which will affect everything you do (including driving).

So. Advice - stop worrying about it, and start planning to sort out the sleep issue - and get your dh to help!

QZebra Sat 09-Jul-05 21:04:53

As a cyclist I really appreciate your post, Arabella, because (sorry) it does sound like you were in the wrong (not giving cyclist enough room), but at least you are willing to admit it, and try to do better in future.

DH regularly chases down drivers who pass him too close (DH is very fast on his bike), taps on window, politely points out to them their carelessness...

["...and learns a few new words in the process", DH has added over my shoulder]

DH has whacked many the side of a bus or delivery lorry that was overtaking too close, too. If you can touch a vehicle as it overtakes, it's WAY too close....

So many drivers are complete plonkers about all other road users, but esp. horrid to cyclists.

tallulah Sun 10-Jul-05 10:38:35

Our town has spent thousands putting in cycle paths, and narrowing the roads they are next to. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of cyclists I've seen using the paths- they would far rather stay on the narrowed road and hold everyone up instead. Cyclists- can you explain this?

I had a near miss with a cyclist a little while ago who squeezed up my inside while I was waiting at traffic lights indicating to turn left. He was going straight on and was in my blind spot (& you really don't expect people to be quite so idiotic). Presumably it would have been my fault if I'd hit him? Don't have an awful lot of respect for cyclists when they refuse to take responsibility for their own safety.

ScummyMummy Sun 10-Jul-05 10:51:31

Oh Arabella- that's a lovely honest post and thank goodness everyone is ok is the main thing, isn't it? Those sorts of angry situations followed by remorse and what-if questions are really emotionally draining. If you feel you can learn something that's great but sympathies because the process is difficult.

Is it worth a concerted effort to get those kids sleeping through or have you tried everything already? I think they're old enough to sleep through. It would probably take a week or so of hell for you and dh- just calmly returning them to bed every single time they got up, or, if the problem is crying, going in every 5 mins or so to resettle them.

Hope today gets better, anyway.

arabella2 Sun 10-Jul-05 14:35:49

Thanks - do feel better today. With regards to the sleeping through - no have not tried a lot yet but must do it. Various issues are involved and am finding it hard to untangle them! Thanks for the posts - don't feel quite so life and death today. Will always have dh drive though if we are together because I think I drive better when he is not in the car!

Libb Sun 10-Jul-05 14:45:45

Arabella, glad you are feeling better today. It has been nerve racking for all of you in London the last few days, the cyclist was probably just as tense.

Cambridge is big on cycling and I have come across plenty of thoughtless drivers and I have been narrowly missed several times, you are not one of these by the sound of it - your post was well thought and you are clearly very considerate.

If it helps, I can assure you that there are many stupid cyclists too - my particular favourites being the overseas Summer students who like to cycle down one path en masse, then suddenly stopping for fag breaks and a chat . . . and then I too become a shouty cyclist!

QZebra Mon 11-Jul-05 00:55:26

Tallulah, I don't know exactly what it's like where you live, but I can guess...

Civil engineers plan cycle paths according to textbooks and budgets. Civil engineers are not actually cyclists themselves. They do not use these same cycle paths. Most cycle paths are terribly designed, and really work only for people going less than 10mph (i.e., children), who don't mind stopping at every driveway and junction to check for safe crossing of same. Most separated cycle paths are on the wrong side of the road 50% of the time, are awkward to get on and off (have to go up/down curbs, wtf?!), are part of one paved space shared with pedestrians, require cyclists to frequently slow down and let other traffic pass, or divert away from where people are actually trying to cycle to. And they don't get swept very often, so are more likely than the road to be covered with puncture hazards.

My taxes pay more for the roads than the typical driver so I'll be damned if I'm required to travel at ~8-10mph on a glass-strewn cycle path rather than bombing down the road at a more normal 13-20mph. What idiot came up with the idea that a vehicle travelling my speed should travel immediately next to pedestrians wandering around the pavement, heads down while they busily text away? Why should I have to let all and sundry go into the petrol station forecourt, the supermarket, any other junction while I wait, whereas if I cycle on the road I get to have priority like any other road user on the main road, and I can get to my destination more quickly (& safely)?

Other than special paths to avoid roundabouts, most cycle path "amenities" are awful, impractical and pathethic.

nooka Mon 11-Jul-05 22:23:16

I agree with you QZebra - what about the cycle paths that just disappear, or the cycle lanes (generally much better) that have pinch points (always too narrow, what on earth are they for?) that you have to swing into the road to avoid. Having said that in London there are some excellent cycle routes that really make my journey easier.

Glad you are feeling better arabella!

tallulah Tue 12-Jul-05 17:27:40

QZ I'm in Ashford, in Kent. The cycle route that I was referring to follows the main road and has only 1 road to cross. By using the cycle path (wide, empty & free from pedestrians) you avoid 3 sets of traffic lights (oh I forgot, cyclists don't have to take any notice of those, do they ) and a dodgy roundabout where 3 lanes of cars are forced into one.

The road was narrowed because of the cycle paths, so if you get a cyclist on the road you are stuck behind them. There is a very dodgy narrow bridge which is barely wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass without clipping eachother and that is where I got stuck behind the idiot cyclist the other evening during the peak rush hour. The cycle path on that bit is 6 foot wife. Just how much room do cyclists need FFS?

tallulah Tue 12-Jul-05 17:29:05

Oh, I forgot. It's those same civil engineers designing the roads too, and they don't seem to have a clue what makes a real life road (as opposed to one drawn on a bit of paper) exceedingly dangerous.

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