I decided to tackle my first long ride this week so planned a sort of ‘sightseeing tour of London’, taking in Buckingham Palace and a few other iconic sights. I should have put more planning into the central London part as I was really underprepared for dealing with the many, many aggressive drivers. Most of them taxi drivers. It seems you put a middle-aged man behind the wheel of a taxi and it’s everyone for themselves. Perhaps taxi drivers should have to re-take their driving test every five years because so many of them seem to have forgotten ‘Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre’ and instead opt for ‘Manoeuver, Shout at Cyclist, Manoeuver, Gesture Rudely to Cyclist’. To taxi drivers, the cycle lane is merely a drop off/pick up point and there’s no need to check if there happens to be a cyclist tootling along in the lane, if you’re lucky some of them signal that they’re crossing into the lane giving you enough time to adjust your path accordingly. Some of what the taxi drivers did felt deliberate, which considering the head of one of the taxi driver associations said that “cyclists are the Isis of London”, I wouldn’t be surprised if they consider cyclists fair game.
I also had a few encounters with buses overtaking me only to pull into the bus stop immediately in front of me…which seemed bizarre and dangerous as I was forced into traffic without much of a chance to indicate I was joining traffic. This isn’t to say I didn’t see any bad behaviour from cyclists, but at no point did I feel that the cyclists actions would have killed me and that there were times it probably would have been safer for me to continue through the red light (I did always stop, though) particularly those at pedestrian crossings once the pedestrians were clear. On the whole, I’ve had a lot of positive interaction with bus drivers and nothing positive with taxi drivers. Fellow cyclists are very nice as well, such as one chap stopping to ask if I’d had a puncture because I was walking with my bike (no, I was just lost).
The ‘cycle superhighway’ signs are terrible. You’ll be happily following one route only for the signs to disappear and the route number to change, leaving you to wonder if you’ve missed a turning or if you’re still on the same route. If I’d have known about the disappearing routes I’d have boned up on the routes before so I have had a clearer idea of which ones to follow when the signs vanished!
Anyway, my ride…
Due to getting increasingly stressed out by taxis and with it getting very late, I decided to abandon my journey home at Greenwich and catch the train. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my ride and I think with a bit more planning I could tackle a 100km ride. I should have set off much earlier as well…and probably done it in summer so I wouldn’t have lost the light as much as I did towards the end. Ah well.