Wednesday, 26 January 2011

the big game of cycling

Others, I am not the first,
Have willed more mischief than they durst...

Here in Cycling City, we get the occasional 'robust debate' about bicycles and cars, chiefly on the Bristol Evening Post website, a habitat that has proved congenial to all sorts of pond dwelling creatures; here, for instance, is a look at a 'discussion' that went on last year about cyclists.

A recent newcomer to this discussion was Kayla Maratty, over at the Bristol 24-7 website. In a piece entitled 'My homicidal tendencies towards cyclists aside, the tuition fees fight goes on’, she says

"Part of me would take great pleasure in mowing them down when they choose to cycle in the middle of the road or are determined to peddle all the wayup Black Boy Hill. But obviously I would never do that; I can get by just on the thought of it to restrain my road rage."
It is refreshing to see a bit of honesty about how some drivers feel about cyclists. I weighed in with some encouragement:

I find that revving the engine aggressively and then passing them so close that you ping them with your wing mirror is rather fun, and helps you feel better about yourself.
They'll probably pass *you*, two minutes later, when you get stuck in another static queue of traffic , but hey, live for the moment, I say!
(sadly, my comment was deleted. It's per-litickle kreckness gone mad I tells you)

Kayla's article was removed not long after, at her request, because she found the responses upsetting. The editor characterised the behaviour of the commentators as 'bullying'. You will be unable to make up your own mind about that, of course.

Well, it did get me thinking. And what I thought was, let's have a look at cyclist-hunting as a blood sport. Because, deep down, you know we all have a violent self that revels in meting out destruction and pain.

And the more I look, the more sense it makes. I mean, you can't hunt foxes with hounds anymore. It's far too expensive. Oh, and against the law. Sort of.

Shooting? If you want to go bagging pheasants, say, it would cost you about £30 or so per bird, and you would expect to pay £400 upwards for a day's shooting.

Stag hunting is even worse. You'd reckon to pay around £150 for a day's shooting, but, when you pay extra for every point on the stag's antler's, it'll cost a lot more; the lucky chap who shot the Emperor of Exmoor would expect to have paid £1600, but you could be charged up to £10,000.

If you decide to go freelance, as it were, and go out hunting while the gamekeepers lie a-sleeping, then it could be a lot cheaper. But if you got caught, then it would probably cost you about £2,500 per deer, with the chance of three months imprisonment per deer killed thrown in for good measure.

Let's face it, the wise money goes elsewhere. Cyclists are plentiful and easily bagged. And, like deer, they're big enough and usually intelligent enough to show anger, fear and other such emotions when they realise that they're about to be bagged. Which adds to the sport.

And how much does it cost? Well, if you knock one off and injure them, you might expect to pay, say, £10 for a quick respray of the scratched bit of the car. Though if you choose to stop and talk to the cyclist, then you may even end up getting them to pay for the damage, though you can't rely on it; chances are the cyclist won't be insured. The police tend to be sympathetic. Just remember the mantra: "Sorry, mate, I didn't see you". Works like a charm.

If you manage to kill them, then the worst case scenario is that you may find yourself charged with 'causing death by dangerous driving'. There is an outside chance that you will even be convicted, though with mitigating factors thrown in, and obviously with the cyclist being unable to put their side of the case, you may end up with a bit of community service.

You see? -a bit of a no-brainer, isn't it?


  1. Is it any wonder that I adore you, Dru? You have such a wonderful sense of humor!

    I haven't biked in years, but I remember all of which you speak. Riding home from work one day, I was admonished at a stop light by a carload of neanderthals, for not riding in the gutter, where all the broken glass and other tire puncturing debris had accumulated! I've also experienced the the near miss of a few wing mirrors!

    Good post, as always, Dru!

    Melissa XX

  2. I haven't ridden a bike on Bristol's streets since a lorry knocked me off mine on the way to school in 1977. I missed the wheels by inches and the driver never had any idea I was there. And I got told off for being late when I finally made it to class.

    So I try not to kill them, but wish the less considerate of them would extend the same courtesy, particularly those who shortcut through the park at half six in the morning when it's still dark, and hurtle past me and the hound with inches to spare and no bell or shouted warning. The dog goes bonkers, so much so that last time he pulled me over and I have to have physiotherapy on my arm ...

  3. Thank you, Melissa! I suspect that the pro-car culture over on your side of the pond is even worse than it is here. Though the belief that bikes belong in the gutter is fairly widely-held here, too; some drivers get quite outraged when I'm occupying a safe position on the road, even when I'm going at least as fast as the prevailing traffic, and will do anything to try and get past me...

    I loathe inconsiderate cyclists, too, Deborah. Though my near-death experiences have been caused by motor vehicles being used as offensive weapons. Sorry to hear about your mishap, though.

  4. I think in my town the game may already be afoot. Some of the prey have taken steps to better evade their predators by turning off their lights when riding at night. Very effective it is too, makes 'em almost invisible.

    I probably am not the model cyclist but I find riding in town nowadays to be somewhat of an ordeal. Here the traffic is less a problem than the aimless pedestrians. I am thus rather glad I walk to work these days.

  5. I have to say that I'm firmly an aimless pedestrian. In fact, as I have the co-ordination of a caravan site, neither cars nor bikes, push or otherwise, are a safe option for me, or more importantly, anyone else on the road!

    But, as Melissa says, your posts are always a delight, and manage to make me look at things from a different angle- particularly as I currently hold the candle of hostility to Boris and his ugly, Major-High-Stret-Bank-Sponsored bicycles!

  6. Cylists really can be invisible. In the self-styled 'cycling demonstration town' where I live, many's the time a pedestrian will look both ways at the kerb, 'see' me approaching, and yet step right out literally regardless. Normally I swerve or brake and just get on with it. On the occasions when I make an issue of it by giving them a 'look', as often as not they just look puzzled. It's as if they are thinking 'where the hell did that come from?'.

    Bring back jag-scratching!

  7. There's a sub-set of cyclists here, Jenny, who have taken to using lights that are so bright that they dazzle anyone in their way; it reminds me of the time that the police helicopter once shone its spotlight on me, and I felt very much the centre of attention and was tempted to break into a tap dance. Not very good if you're trying to see where *you* are going, though.

    My Chinese bicycle bell is jolly good for alerting pedestrians, and can be v strident if needed, though the Ipod listeners remain oblivious; I once had an air horn on the bike, and had the pleasure of watching such a jaywalker rise about two feet off the ground when I sounded it...

    ..they are horrid ugly, aren't they, Lottie? Still, I saw a portly City Gent riding one and could never have imagined him riding a more sporty machine, so maybe it's tempting new people into the joys of urban cycling. Though I noticed he was being menaced by a taxi as he waited at the traffic lights...

    "jag-scratching"? Suzzy?

  8. Reading this makes me so glad I cycle here in Holland (and makes me wonder how I used to survive as a child when I would ride miles down country lanes - that Mrs Stace doesn't even like in the car, let along on two wheels going 50mph slower than the other traffic - if they are doing the limit).

    Here (should the insane compulsion take me) I can ride to my office (30 miles cross country) and only have to do a couple of hundred yards on the road. The rest is all cycle paths. And when I say cycle path I mean seperated from the road by a couple of meters or more, not a red lane painted on a narrow road.

    You have my sympathy Dru having to put up with it - and for being lumped in the same group as the idiot cyclists.


  9. It's a very fair point about said bank-sponsored bikes- they do get those who wouldn't otherwise cycle to try it, which can only be a good thing- however unhappy the taxi drivers may be....

  10. I was impressed with the cycle lanes in Holland, Stace, but I like the higgledy-piggledyness of Bristol. The roads would be just fine if there were less of a sense of entitlement among motorists; 'the car must get through'.Maybe it's too deeply ingrained to change now...

    If I make even one taxi driver unhappy, Lottie, I consider it a day well-spent :-)

  11. Gave up cycling because of the hostility.
    I have a friend who's a game keeper. He can get you pheasants for six quid the brace. No shot in them either.
    Another likeable, serious yet humorous blog from Dru. Thank you.

  12. They haven't got you yet Dru?