72% of the UK population now own a smartphone (source: mobilemarketingmagazine.com). Not only that, more and more cyclists and motorists are arming themselves with helmet and dash cams. With the ease of access to a video camera via your phone and other recording devices, needless to say a lot of footage of near misses, accidents, arguments, fights etc end up being shared on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The latest in a long line of clips to go viral was of a dangerous driver in a Peugeot 405 estate giving a cyclist very little room as he overtook him at speed on a side street with parked cars. I came under a bit of fire on Twitter the other day for my comment about this video clip. I tweeted ‘The Peugeot driver was in the wrong, but provoked big time by the cyclist, no need in both accounts’. Looking back at my comment I can see how others might have misconstrued my tweet. That’s the problem with Twitter, if you want to include everybody in the conversation you have less than 140 characters to express your opinion.
To clarify I am a cyclist too, I commute to and from work every day by bike and have done so for nearly 4 years. I love it, I save a fortune on travel costs and it keeps me fit and with my car sitting at home, I’m also chipping in to help the environment. Although I drive a lot too, I tend to be biased towards the cyclists’ cause because of first-hand experience I’ve gained from cycling on Edinburgh’s roads.
Getting back to the driver of the Peugeot. He was impatient from the outset and endangered the cyclist by speeding passed him giving very little room. He could have easily clipped his handlebars or worse. When I was learning to drive, my instructor taught me to treat every car door as open, so in the event a car door did open, I’d miss it. The same must be applied on a bicycle. The cyclist was correct to leave enough space for a car door to swing open or a child to run out between parked cars etc. The driver was impatient and should have waited until it was safe to pass the cyclist. I don’t think anybody can argue against that.
However the cyclist decided to chase after the motorist to confront him over his dangerous driving. I have no issue with addressing motorists about their dangerous driving. But in this video the situation escalates quickly. The driver doesn’t take too kindly to being confronted, but the cyclist continues to argue with him. I felt that the cyclist was now provoking the situation further than necessary he and should have removed himself from the situation before it kicked off. I appreciate that we shouldn’t allow motorists to get away with dangerous driving. But what did the cyclist gain? Will the driver’s attitude towards cyclists change? Probably not. The cyclist could have ended up injured through assault or his bike damaged by the irate driver. I don’t think it was worth the risk and in most cases it’s better to avoid confrontation with these types of idiots as it leads to road rage.
Whether recording on video or not, you still do not know who you are about to confront and how they are going to react. What danger are you putting yourself into? I know I can handle myself if the situation arises but I’m not going to put myself at further risk with altercations with idiot hot head motorists. I own a GoPro that I use for my hillwalking trips, I also have handle bar and helmet mounts. But I have so far refrained from using the GoPro to record my cycling. But I can see why some cyclists choose to record when on the road. However a camera is not a deterrent to motorists but can help after any incidents for evidence.
Having watched various videos online, a lot of people have bitten off more than what they can chew when they have chosen to police matters themselves. I think we should all be mindful of that, don’t try and be a hero in front of the camera as you don’t know how the others will react when they’re being recorded.
If the cyclist hadn’t been recording, would he have argued quite as much?
On this occasion the cyclist was unhurt and he struck TV gold at the end of the clip. I won’t give away what happens in case you haven’t seen the clip yet. But if you do watch the clip, watch it to the very end.