This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 at 7:36 pm and is filed under Bad motoring. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Jan 27th 2009: Do I have a target on my back? I’ve just been on a car hood. There were witnesses.
I’m riding back from dropping my daughter at ballet. I have flashing LEDs front and rear, plus reflective jacket, plus flashing LED ankleband. The narrow road outside our cottage is a rat-run, especially at night.
I could hear a car going stupidly fast behind me, revving right up to me. I have to take a right turn on a road and then an immediate right turn into our drive. If a car is too close, the driver might not realise I’m making two turns in quick succession - so, if I hear them getting too close, I wiggle to tell them I’m about to do something they might not be expecting.
Tonight, an impatient driver ignored my flashing LEDs and disregarded my wiggle and hand-signal. I turned right, and as he was inches behind me there was nowhere for him to go but - slowly - into the side of me. I’m now parallel to his front bumper, stuck half through my right-hand turn. The driver revved, and blistering the air, told me to get out of his way.
I stood my ground, pointing to my flashing LEDs, asking him why he had been following me so close when I was executing a turn. I was a paragon of calmness. He revved again, pushing into my legs with the front of his car. He repeated his instruction for me to get out of his effing way.
A cyclist came along at that moment and I asked him to be a witness to the drama unfolding. The cyclist tried to calm the motorist, arguing there were no injuries involved (yet) and that as he hadn’t seen the original incident we should disengage.
The young, well-dressed motorist got out of his car at this point and started effing and blinding at me at very close quarters. Instead of the expected thump, he got out his iPhone (not all iPhone users are saints, then), said he’d call the police, and took a picture.
By this point, my next-door neighbour was watching and listening.
The motorist said “people like me” needed to get out of the way of cars [UPDATE: "people like me" meaning cyclists or anybody in front of him? If cyclists, then I would now point him to iPayRoadTax.com, a site that majors on the cyclists' right to the road]. I suggested he might not want to use a vehicle weighing a tonne as a battering ram on my legs.
He lifted my bike out of my hands, threw it to the side and on to the ground and got back in his car. I stood still. Gandhi of Jesmond Dene.
I was about to take out my iPhone and take a pic of the guy’s number plate when the car revved, and moved forward at enough speed to force me to jump on the hood. I had to hold on, Starsky and Hutch style as he drove 10m before a chicane and a coming car stopped him. Now even more enraged, the motorist reversed at speed. All the while other cars are managing to make their way past. (What must they have been thinking? I don’t suppose you see somebody crouching on the hood of a speeding car every day of the week).
The motorist sounded his horn, shouting and swearing. By now off the hood, I blocked his way while I took a pic of his number plate, which is only fair as he took a pic of me. Once I recorded his details, I stepped out of the way.
He drove away, swearing, but, again blocked by a car coming the other way, he had time to shout why he was in such a hurry to get past me. He was late for picking up his son. Mr Angry revs again, and sped away, brake lights blinking as he aggressively tail-gated a car with the temerity to be in front of him.
The patient cyclist gave me his contact details. The police will be called. The cyclist said not to bother as “they won’t do anything.”
I dunno. With two witnesses, they might just.
Two policemen called in tonight, very quickly after I phoned in the incident. They seemed shocked by the details recounted above and took it all very seriously. Probably because of two witnesses.
The guy was to be interviewed tonight. Case could go to court, possibly for dangerous driving, more probably for careless driving.
I’m still in shock. I don’t like or encourage these sort of encounters, but, sadly, they’re getting more frequent. Too many drivers don’t seem to realise cars can be weapons.
Deliberately shunting my shins was dangerous - and stupid given there was a witness standing by - but to take me on a 10m drive on his hood was insane.
What I didn’t write about above was the abuse the motorist gave cyclists in general. He doesn’t think we should be on the roads at all, and said so in no uncertain terms. At the very least the guy needs a motoring attitudes course to teach him that the roads are not for cars alone.
When I’m in my car I, too, get frustrated when I’m late, but I wouldn’t for a moment take out that frustration on skin and bones.
A nice police officer called today and said the “offender” would be arrested and charged with assault. Lifting the bicycle away from me was enough to warrant this charge but taking me on a little car journey on the hood/bonnet was “very serious”, said the police officer.
The car used in the incident was a company car and the driver has yet to be tracked down. “But we’ll find him,” promised the police officer.
By going down the assault route instead of a motoring infraction there’s less red-tape and more chance of securing a conviction. The first assault took place within one metre of one of the witnesses.
FINAL UPDATE: The police phoned tonight (12th Feb). The driver was identified and arrested. He admitted he had lost his temper, and that he shouldn’t have done. He told the arresting officer he was sorry for he had done and that it won’t happen again.
The police officer said the driver was “unknown” to them ie no previous. He accepted a ‘caution’. I was asked if I was OK with that. I said yes, and meant it. I had told the police at the time that the guy was probably the salt-of-the-earth when away from his car. Hopefully, he’ll now take more care when driving behind and near to cyclists.
A ‘caution’ is a shot across the bows. It’s on the driver’s police record and if he’s caught road raging again he’s more likely to be convicted for any future infraction. Case closed.