Near misses - John C. Kirk
Mar. 4th, 2009
10:30 pm - Near misses
Since I got the pedal fixed on my bike, I've been cycling to work every day; in fact, I've now got a rail season ticket rather than a travelcard, since I don't need to use the bus. (That saves me about £25/month.) It's quicker than using the bus, and gives me more control over my journey, but I've had a couple of close calls recently with other traffic.
Yesterday evening it was raining quite hard when I came home; I didn't have too much trouble with the actual road surface, but my clothes were soaked through and the rain was stinging my face when it hit. Because of that, I tried to keep my head down, and I wasn't looking around as much as I usually do, so I was quite surprised when a car came out of a side road and almost hit me. In my defence, I had the right of way, and I was wearing my high-vis waistcoat with my lights on, so I can only assume that the driver didn't bother to check.
Tonight I was riding home when I saw a car in a side road, waiting to turn right. The driver had stopped half-way across my lane, and he was looking to the left waiting for a gap in the oncoming traffic (in the other lane) so that he could turn. There was enough space for me to get past, but I was cautious so I watched him carefully as I approached. He then drove forward while his head was still turned to the left, without looking to see whether anyone was in front of him or approaching from his right. Fortunately I was able to stop in time, and I shouted "Woah!" He stopped, and looked at me when I shouted "Watch where you're going!", but his face was completely blank; the lights were on but nobody was home. It does worry me that I share the road with people like him.
Pedestrians can also be a bit of a problem: there were a couple of kids who dashed across the road recently, and they didn't see me coming because of the bus parked in front of them. If I'd been driving a bigger vehicle, they'd probably be dead, but I was able to swerve and brake. Sadly, they didn't seem to appreciate their lucky escape, and just danced around my bike instead. I had a bell fitted to my bike when it was repaired; it worked ok when I tested it, but unfortunately the handle bit snapped off the first time I tried to use it "in action", so I won't bother replacing that. So, I'll just rely on my voice to alert other people to my presence.