There’s a bit of road on my route to the station, a short stretch of narrow one-way street. Down one side, there is an even shorter stretch – we’re talking yards here – where parking is permitted and when it is full, which is most of the time, the road is even narrower.

I hate this bit. It is so narrow that when I am cycling down it the width of my handlebars, plus the width of the parked car, plus the width of the car that is (always) trying to pass me adds up to the entire width of the road. I am one wobble away from a nasty accident. And the passing car, of course, slows down as it passes to get through the narrow gap between cyclist and pavement so the hair’s-breadth moment seems to last for ever. I’m not, generally, a wobbly cyclist, but there’s nothing like having two wing mirrors mere centimetres on either side of you to induce a bit of a tremor. Especially given the state of London’s roads.

It’s always a car that overtakes. White van men are much maligned in this in my experience – generally they can see that, with a few yards to go until the parked cars end and the road widens, it’s much more fun to sit on the cyclist’s tail gunning their engines than it is to try and squeeeeeeze through the gap. It’s Mondeo man who has to, has to, has to, overtake, shaving those vital few seconds off his very important journey. The wider the car, the more self-important the driver, and the more likely they are to slide up beside me and bully me over to the side of the road.

‘Cyclists need three feet’ the saying goes, and I always thought this was referring to the space we needed rather than a limb requirement but now I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s that we do need three actual feet – two for the pedalling, and one – shod in a steel toe cap or maybe a stiletto – to fend off the bloody cars.

I’m off tomorrow, for a week. Rather than leave you all bereft, I’ve put together a sort of edited highlights page – the least bad bits of 2005 – for your amusement. Have a look and see if you agree with the other half …


11 responses to “Squeeeeeze

  1. Have a good week. Going somewhere nice?

    No doubt I’ll forget, stop by and wonder where you are for a moment ot two. I’ll save the edited highlights page for latter in the week.

  2. Please do, it keeps the stats looking healthy. You’ve probably read them all anyway, but you never know

  3. Just do what i do: cycle in the middle of that bit of road so they cannot overtake you. Cars have to treat you as an entity in your own right. In cases where you, the cyclist think it unsafe to be overtaken, position yourself so they can’t. I think they should have defensive cycling courses.

    (and you are SO right about Mondeo drivers)

  4. You’re right – and I know all about that – but somehow it’s harder in practice than in theory. I’m always worried that they’ll try and literally overtake me – over the top of me – if I don’t cravenly slide over …

    Curiously enough they run defensive cycling courses from an office further up the same street …

  5. Rover drivers are the worst (and least competent) in my experience.

  6. haha, disgruntled, you gotta OWN that piece of road, cos let’s face it, any little accident and you’ll come off worst (but that probably won’t stop the motorist making a big fuss over how your protruding broken femur put a scratch on his bumper or something)

  7. Moobs – it’s not the car so much, it’s the headgear. Any driver in a hat. Any kind of hat. And I’m off to Ireland tomorrow – land of the behatted driver.

    Cookie – Too true, must start channelling my rage and using it when I’m on the bike. And if they do knock me down make damn sure I bleed on their uphlostery

  8. If you really want to annoy someone after an accident, sit in their car afterwards. When the police arrive, complain about having back pains or a stiff neck. If you’re lucky, the fire brigade will cut off the roof of the car to ensure that you can be safely extracted.

  9. That would almost be worth getting knocked off my bike for … I just need to have the presence of mind to remember it at the time

  10. Just found ur blog – God isn’t commuting just the most pointless waste of life ever? I’m glad you’re putting all those hours to good use and making us all laugh by writing about it! Good blog, keep it up!

    Ciao xx

  11. Thanks for the comments … glad to be of service

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