The fag end of cycling
Two successive rides into work, two altercations… Number one was prompted by the actions of a burly push-bike rider (as distinct from a cyclist) on Blackfriars Bridge.
I stopped at the traffic lights at the northern edge of the bridge in the ASL with a bus on my right and a gap of about three feet between us. Timing his run to perfection, said shovie-pusher shot between me and the bus at about 20mph precisely as the lights turned to green-and-amber.
So well-judged was his ride that my annoyance at being brushed at speed was tempered by admiration; nevertheless, I caught up and pointed out the dangers of such riding practices. Part of his response was to tell me not to wobble as I set off…
Ah, well; no point in making too much of it. Timing my own effort to a nicety, I made each of the next three sets of lights just before they turned to amber and stopped as usual on red at Cowcross Street. As the lights changed, I clipped in and heaved on my pedals only to feel, as I reached a decent speed, a nudge on my left hip. Looking back, I saw my new friend placed nicely on my inside as he tried to nip past. This time I did wobble, nudging his hand with my hip trackie-style and sending him veering wildly towards the kerb.
Managing to stay on board, he issued an immediate invitation to climb off and “sort things out” in a manner that hinted he might have done that sort of thing before. I regretfully declined, Farringdon Road being busy at that time of day, and instead maintained station with my hip level with his ‘bars. This advantageous placing allowed my in turn to spend a few seconds pointing out once again the dangers of his way of riding.
Somehow, the nudge seemed to have encouraged a change of heart, for he then apologised and his aggressive demeanor evaporated. Maybe the possibility of another, delivered with intent, had something to do with it, but in any case I decided to depart while ahead in more ways than one.
The next morning, riding along Upper Ground and approaching Hatfields at the back of King’s Reach Tower, I was obliged to ride around a delivery lorry that drove slowly and deliberately from Hatfields across Upper Ground into the parking space near the Oxo Tower.
Rapping on the bonnet, I advised the driver of his error. “Couldn’t you see me turning?” he said. “I had priority there, sunshine” I replied. Something about the use of the word “sunshine” threw him and his next expostulation was a mumble. An aggressive mumble, but a mumble nonetheless, and he knew it.
“Leave while ahead” ain’t a bad motto, and I did. And it’s only the beginning of February…