A message to London road users: don’t be bags of dicks. Please.

London Cyclists - veloballs

On my commute into town today, I witnessed a few pieces of appalling driving and cycling. It strikes me, however, that the problem is not that drivers treat cyclists like lesser beings as often thought, but that most of them treat us like road users. Driver’s aren’t just arsehole’s to cyclists, they’re arseholes to each other, too.

The first incident of terrible driving featured a white van (quelle surprise!) and three cyclists (including myself). We three managed to get us into an ASL and the white van had stopped at the appropriate line. We were all to cross straightover the junction, but there’s a turn off for cyclists on the right just after – about 100m. Myself and another cyclist were on one side of the ASL (Advanced Stop Line), on the left, the third was on the right (an old chap, didn’t really seem to be that aware of road laws). As the lights went green, we pedalled off as a three piece – I was happy to hang back to let the other two go, but the white van was anything but. The white van was frustrated in its attempt to overtake during the crossing, and, around 20-30 meters before the right turn – when we started looking over our shoulders and signal – almost drove right into the other cyclists and the old chap, whilst blocking my ability to (1) signal and (2) cross the traffic lane to turn right. Finally, it got through us in a huff of angry exhaust, noise and speed, but seemingly only after making the old chap cross the central white line that divides the road into a two-way.

The taxi behind the white van stayed back and let us cross.
I don’t think it would’ve taken much time out of white van to have some patience – but then, I’ve seen drivers act like this to other drivers. While driving in Brighton, and committing to the 20mph in the town (it makes sense, do it), I’ve been fiercely overtaken by arseholes desperate to get to the next stop light. They do this by crossing into the oncoming road and bursting round me. I don’t often drive, but this has happened the last two times.

So, to me, this white van was treating the old chap, the other cyclist and myself as he would an old person. He is, at the end of the day, making London traffic more jilted and more packed full of arseholes.

Stop being bags of dicks.

The second incident involved a cyclist trying to undertake a taxi. Now, perhaps the taxi could’ve been less lazy and actually used his steering-wheel to greater effect, but at the same time the cyclist was a moron for trying to undertake a moving vehicle that needed to utilise its steering wheel. I saw loads of undertaking of busses, taxis, vans, etc. during the last tube strike – stop doing it people. You’re fucking eejits for doing so, and making it harder for every single person on the road, including other cyclists.

That said, I’ve seen loads of London drivers who have no sense of lane discipline whatsoever. The want to actually use the steering wheel is a real problem in the turning of corners in the UK generally – frequently seeing drivers blocking each other’s progress. Why? London road’s are a massive and unfair brawl, and not just between cyclists and drivers, but between cyclists and other cyclists, and drivers and other drivers.

Stop being bags of dicks.

The third incident was something I see every single day – a driver desperate to feel they are progressing, so edging over the yellow-painted junction into the pedestrian crossing so they’re pray to the next set of lights, rather than the last one. My commute means that this measure happens across one of the few cycle lanes (by UCL – it’s fucking terrible. Criminally bollocks. London road designers: Stop being bags of dicks).

Drivers do this to lanes all the time – you see busses desperately getting half way around a corner where there’s evident traffic, only to be stuck on that corner. Therefore fucking everybody over.

We don’t have the infrastructure yet to make cycling a safe experience in London. It will always be somewhat enjoyable, but that’s a chemical/biological thing, not a road thing. Until then, I plea to drivers to treat cyclists like you might a horse (that ad had a point) – we’re easily scared and quite vulnerable. We’re not your enemy and a lot of the time when you over take us, you end up slowing us down rather than visa-versa. See cyclists, think horse.

Similarly cyclists, there’s a lack of acknowledgement of each other on the road – if we worked together, we would have an all-round easier time of it. Look at how easy and smooth and fun Critical Mass can be when everybody works together. Except, setting off from stop lights are a drag race; when stopping, you’re overtaken by people blatantly slower than you.

Neither driving nor cycling are a solitary experience, but they are treated as such on our roads. We can change that by actions – where we lead, they will eventually follow.

So, in conclusion:

For fucks sake, stop being bags of dicks.


Photo credit: PRONationalmuseet
Previous articleFun, Stay Fit, Save Money, Eat More!
Next articleWinter cycling gear 101
Sam has been writing variously, mostly about music or in academia, for a while now. He is situated in London, and after taking up cycling there in 2012, it has become one of his obsessions, amongst music and other people being wrong. Cycling is part of his way of declaring war on the alienating affects of a supercity.