It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant about the shower of bastards I encounter on the roads. Â I’m not commutingÂ through Cambridge itself any more, so I don’t encounter so many of them. Â Also, although my route is over twice as long now, it uses quite a few cycle paths of varying lethality, ranging from “sort of OK” to “wheel-fucking argh!Â clang oh shit I think I’ll stay on the road”. Of course, most of the people I encounter on the roads are boring sods who aren’t even bothered with me being there and show respect by passingÂ safely. Â Yawn. Â How can I wake up in the mornings without the surge of adrenaline from a near miss? Â Some even passÂ on helpful advice, like the young man who veered towards me on his moped and shouted above the noise of his “bee farting in a tin can”-type exhaust that gwargle obbly wobbly. Â I asked a qualified aromatherapist about thisÂ later and discovered that he was correct. Â I’ll not bore you with the details.
But there areÂ still a fewÂ hilarious encounters with people who want to liven up my dayÂ by giving me a nice scare, shouting out of the window or expressing their complex thoughts about road safety, the role of the cyclist in the ever-more frenetic highway ecosystemÂ and the merits of the primary and secondary road positions, by going “beep”. Â So I’ve tried a few different responses.
1. Â Middle finger salute. Â Instant gratification on my part, but the driverÂ usually respondsÂ in kind, causing gratification for him/her too. Â I don’t want them to feel better as well. Â The last time I tried this, the scroteÂ who had just carved me up waved his arms a bit and then slowed down further up the road, presumably to have another go at running me over when I caught up. Â Funnily enough he had to give it up when a white van roaredÂ up behind him and, with military precision, tailgated himÂ at 1 millimetre’s distanceÂ until he sped up. Â The irony of his sudden change of placeÂ in the vehicular pecking orderÂ was probably lost on him.
2. Â Stopping for a chat. Â Fun, but it’s quite rare for anyone to actually stop when I make pointing motions for them to pull over. Â It’s important to be friendly and cheerful to put them off their guard, because they’ll want a good shouting match. Â The only timeÂ I successfully had a chat, she explained that the reason she almost took my right elbow off and beeped was because my riding position meant she couldn’t overtake when there was a car going the other way. Â I pointed out that if she couldn’t overtake when there wasÂ a car going the other way, then maybe she shouldn’t overtake when there was a car going the other way.Â She replied that I was lucky her boyfriend wasn’t there. Â She didn’t explain why. Â Maybe he’s really ugly and smells like rotting turnipsÂ or something?
3. Â Smiling and waving. Â I’ve only tried this once, but it worked quite well. Â I didn’tÂ get the instant reliefÂ of a nice rage hit but,Â on the other hand,Â the beeper gotÂ no gratification either. Â The complete failure to get her message across seemed to send her into spasms. Â “Beep!” Â Big cheery wave from me. Â Frantic hand signals from the beeperÂ as she watched me in her mirror and weaved around the road slightly. Â Another cheery wave and a niceÂ grin from me, and she disappeared from sight, still weavingÂ around all overÂ the shop.
Or I could do what a friend of mine has done, and fit a car horn to my bike so I can beep back.