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After a dark, wet, eventful commute home this evening, involving three very near misses, I found myself thinking, for the first time in nearly two decades of riding, "is it worth it?". I've cycled to work for as long as I can remember, in all weathers, all year.  It's just part of my routine and I enjoy it, for the most part; certainly preferable to the train or car.  Until now.

There have always been inatentive drivers, drivers in a hurry, drivers on their mobiles, but I've never found it that hard to spot them and position accordingly in order to avoid the risk of contact.  But lately, it seems there's genuine intent on the part of some drivers to put me in danger, or a wilful "I don't give a fuck" attitude that is, frankly, scary.

I'm wondering whether to put the bike away until the days get longer.  And I'm angry with myself for thinking it.  Anyone else having similar thoughts?  Anyone else actually stuck the bike in the garage until spring rolls around?

38 comments

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hirsute [688 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Modern driving standards are shit.
I've lost count of close passes where no traffic is coming the other way.

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Awavey [501 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

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Organon [197 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Can't you take the Zwift to work?

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Pushing50 [176 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

“Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum” 

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alotronic [610 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

Very familiar with the feeling, esp now over 50 and a little less robust. A few days on the tube ususally sorts me out! Don't know if it's possible but sometimes a new route or an earlier start makes a difference too. London very different between 7:30 and 8:30 am...

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SpikeBike [143 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I think it isn't. Then I get the train/tube to work and promptly change my mind and get back on the bike! Totally worth it. 

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Yorkshire wallet [2428 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

It is until you set off without a balaclava type thing and you arrive at work with bell's palsy.

Had the first really cold morning the other day. Not fun.

 

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Mungecrundle [1302 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

No harm in taking another option for a few days. See it as an opportunity to peek your head above the rut of everyday routine and get some perspective. What starts as questioning how you get to work might lead to something far more interesting.

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HawkinsPeter [3088 posts] 3 months ago
10 likes

Remember that our brains are very well adapted to identifying risks and as a result, we tend to over-empathise the dangerous incidents and ignore the hours/minutes between the incidents. Cycling is statistically very safe and for most people results in a longer, healthier life.

Also, don't let the buggers get you down.

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Cupov [70 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Leeds isn't great by any stretch but the lack of alternatives keep me on the bike year round. I'd just be sat in traffic otherwise.

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Kendalred [306 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Awavey wrote:

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

I agree with this - I tend to get overtaken better in the dark. It's as if the drivers give more room because they can't see exactly how wide you are, and overcompensate. I have far more close passes in broad daylight.

Conversely, on wednesday when I went out for an afternoon spin (having been, and still being in the middle of a debilitating cold/chest infection), I had a close pass by a 4x4 coming at me from the opposite direction. The moron decided to overtake another car as I was approaching, and they were in mid overtake as they passed me. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a worrying indicment of the frequency of this type of thing, but my reaction was to just put a sarcastic thumbs-up at the driver (who was looking directly at me!) and carry on. Perhaps it was because I saw it coming that I didn't even feel that scared, it just seemed like water off a ducks back.

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cyclesteffer [374 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

Definitely agree with this - driving standards these days are shocking. I can totally see why people are put off cycling to work. I help run a large Bicycle User Group (580 members) of people in a large company. Every survey we ask people why they don't cycle more.

Number 1 reason - roads are too dangerous, every time.

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tugglesthegreat [119 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
SpikeBike wrote:

I think it isn't. Then I get the train/tube to work and promptly change my mind and get back on the bike! Totally worth it. 

Same here. Take me an hour into work on the bike and have some training in.  Take the car and It can take an hour and half.  Take public transport and it take an hour and half on a good day, usual story is that a train is cancelled, and it's the most expensive option of the three.

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tugglesthegreat [119 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
SpikeBike wrote:

I think it isn't. Then I get the train/tube to work and promptly change my mind and get back on the bike! Totally worth it. 

Same here. Take me an hour into work on the bike and have some training in.  Take the car and It can take an hour and half.  Take public transport and it take an hour and half on a good day, usual story is that a train is cancelled, and it's the most expensive option of the three.

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mbrads72 [236 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

#nightstick

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sergius [564 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I go on the turbo for an hour or so and then get the train, but at 40 miles each way across London commuting via bike isn't a great option anymore anyway.

Have to get up bloody early though  2

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Crippledbiker [85 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Last night, on two separate occasions, I had vehicles - one small coach, one private car - try to move left into space I was already occupying. Keep in mind, I've got three sets of multiple-thousand lumen headlights out front, as well as lights on my head - I'm not exactly inconspicuous.

In both cases, my recourse was to beat the crap out of the nearest bit of said vehicle - if I can touch it, it's too close. Left a nice dent in the second incident, 18 plate MPV. All on camera, need to see if it's clear enough to report to the police.

Only reason I don't end up squashed more often is because on the main road I use with which I have problems, I take primary all day every day - lane 1 is bus lane, lanes 2 and 3 are regular traffic. If you want to overtake me, move over or bloody wait - it also means when you get a fucking moron try and move into a bit of road you're currently in, you've got somewhere to go to get out of the way.

I actually prefer to cycle when it's dark - I know that my headlights can be seen, and they're positioned such that from the front, they clearly show the outlying edges of my 'chair. I can also see vehicles more clearly, especially indicators, and you don't get that dappling effect that, whilst pretty, can make things basically invisible ('cos the outline gets broken up).

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srchar [1217 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Update: I bottled it this morning.  The train was actually reasonably quiet; I even got a seat.  Half an hour reading a book rather than half an hour on the bike.  I'm telling myself I got half an hour of mental exercise as opposed to half an hour of physical exercise.  Doesn't feel great tbh.

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HawkinsPeter [3088 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
srchar wrote:

Update: I bottled it this morning.  The train was actually reasonably quiet; I even got a seat.  Half an hour reading a book rather than half an hour on the bike.  I'm telling myself I got half an hour of mental exercise as opposed to half an hour of physical exercise.  Doesn't feel great tbh.

There's nothing wrong with taking a break from routine. Personally, I don't bother cycling in the rain (unless it's just a short distance) and will get the train instead. Nothing to beat yourself up over - think of it as a recovery break.

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Simon E [3598 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
srchar wrote:

Update: I bottled it this morning.  The train was actually reasonably quiet; I even got a seat.  Half an hour reading a book rather than half an hour on the bike.  I'm telling myself I got half an hour of mental exercise as opposed to half an hour of physical exercise.  Doesn't feel great tbh.

Don't beat yourself up about it.  As others have said, you can review the situation any time, revisit the options every day if you really want to or let it go until January or even later.

If you miss the exercise then fit something else in - a bit of turbo riding before/after work, a brisk walk in your lunch break or do more at the weekend. It's more important that you find a solution, a compromise you can live with.

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kil0ran [1344 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I no longer commute because I work from home but I still try to get out and ride every weekday. The way I see it, there's no other exercise I genuinely enjoy and if I didn't cycle I'd be heading towards all the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. That's not a risk, that's a certainty. So I get out there and take the risk time and time again. Since becoming a Dad I have changed my risk attitude a bit - now I'll ride later in the day when the roads are quieter, and won't cycle at all if its icy or very windy. Everybody has their own risk assessment framework and it's very much a personal choice for that reason, so don't go taking risks you're not comfortable with just because you feel you're letting yourself down, let alone the cycling "community"

 

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BehindTheBikesheds [2846 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
cyclesteffer wrote:

Definitely agree with this - driving standards these days are shocking. I can totally see why people are put off cycling to work. I help run a large Bicycle User Group (580 members) of people in a large company. Every survey we ask people why they don't cycle more.

Number 1 reason - roads are too dangerous, every time.

This is why despite increases in cycling in some quarters we as a country have not progressed in cycling numbers since the mid 2000s. There's a very small increase in miles travelled but that's the same faces going further.
Government is complicit in this and by their inaction are responsible for deaths, injuries, pollution and billions of pounds pissed up the wall in the NHS, police, ambulance and fire dept etc.
Address the root problem with direct action and it makes the whole country a bettwr place. Government are criminals and act unlawfully by ignoring the problem and allowing some portions of society be attacked, villified and punished unfaorly by police and so called justice system.
It's truly sickening, but to give in and pack it up, whilst I get why people do, even after being an injury stat twice, near death experience with a tipper driver I'll never give up.
It's different for all folk so I can't look down on those that do, I just feel saddened but as above you can only give encouragement and a different spin on things.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2846 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
kil0ran wrote:

I no longer commute because I work from home but I still try to get out and ride every weekday. The way I see it, there's no other exercise I genuinely enjoy and if I didn't cycle I'd be heading towards all the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. That's not a risk, that's a certainty. So I get out there and take the risk time and time again. Since becoming a Dad I have changed my risk attitude a bit - now I'll ride later in the day when the roads are quieter, and won't cycle at all if its icy or very windy. Everybody has their own risk assessment framework and it's very much a personal choice for that reason, so don't go taking risks you're not comfortable with just because you feel you're letting yourself down, let alone the cycling "community"

 

I became a parent when I was quite young, I was already cycle commuting 13-14miles a day in peak hours but this was 1990/91 and a significant portion was along country roads before a couple of miles of dual carriageway.
TBH it didn't even cross my mind as to risk factor cycling when my son was born but driving standards have fallen so badly since then and the general thinking(that cycling is unsafe) that is driven home into the minds of people on bikes that I don't find it surprising people change their habits because of greater responsibilities.
However given risks to pedestrians as well as say children in motors and parks/dchool playgrounfs compared to that of kids on bikes you have to dispel the thoughts that cycling is any more dangerous than other activities.
Even head injuries of the population show us cycling injuries is a tiny, tiny drop in the ocean comparatively.

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srchar [1217 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

A week on the train wasn't quite as bad as I expected, presumably as we're nearing Christmas time. On days when I got a seat and was able to read a book, it was actually quite pleasant.  But, I missed the morning ride and don't have time to get out during the week, other than commuting, so this week, I'm back in the saddle, and really enjoyed this morning's ride.

kil0ran wrote:

if I didn't cycle I'd be heading towards all the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. That's not a risk, that's a certainty

This is an excellent point.

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ClubSmed [781 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
srchar wrote:

A week on the train wasn't quite as bad as I expected, presumably as we're nearing Christmas time. On days when I got a seat and was able to read a book, it was actually quite pleasant.  But, I missed the morning ride and don't have time to get out during the week, other than commuting, so this week, I'm back in the saddle, and really enjoyed this morning's ride.

kil0ran wrote:

if I didn't cycle I'd be heading towards all the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. That's not a risk, that's a certainty

This is an excellent point.

When I am forced to commute by train, rather than walk the 7 minutes to the nearest train station I'll cycle 10 minutes to a train station slightly further away. It has the benefit of me not feeling quite so bad because I am on the bike and double the train options as the tracks split after this station.

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Legs_Eleven_Wor... [444 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Awavey wrote:

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

I recommend 'Freakonomics'.  Everything is incentive.  We do things (or refrain from doing things) for pleasure (or pain).  As long as there is no incentive not to act dangerously around cyclists - and a clear incentive in doing so, because the more they do it, the more they frighten cyclists and the fewer cyclists are likely to venture abroad - then car drivers will continue to act dangerously around cyclists. 

The only question is: are you prepared to give them an incentive not to act that way around you?

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Legs_Eleven_Wor... [444 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Crippledbiker wrote:

Last night, on two separate occasions, I had vehicles - one small coach, one private car - try to move left into space I was already occupying. Keep in mind, I've got three sets of multiple-thousand lumen headlights out front, as well as lights on my head - I'm not exactly inconspicuous. In both cases, my recourse was to beat the crap out of the nearest bit of said vehicle - if I can touch it, it's too close.

On all three occasions where I have touched the vehicle that came close, the situation has escalated to the point where I have had to use force against the driver.  They really don't like us touching their penis substitutes.  

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davel [2718 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
Awavey wrote:

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

I recommend 'Freakonomics'.  Everything is incentive.  We do things (or refrain from doing things) for pleasure (or pain).  As long as there is no incentive not to act dangerously around cyclists - and a clear incentive in doing so, because the more they do it, the more they frighten cyclists and the fewer cyclists are likely to venture abroad - then car drivers will continue to act dangerously around cyclists. 

The only question is: are you prepared to give them an incentive not to act that way around you?

Can we follow this through - genuinely - because you often espouse the angry response sort of stuff. I relate to it because I can be an angry twat too - particularly when my heart rate is up and I've just been skimmed by a berk in a couple of tons of metal.

I agree broadly with your incentives model (economics), but it applies to populations, just like it says in Freakonomics. I might be doing srchar a disservice here, but he hasn't struck me as a population.

Genuine question, because if there is some sort of consensus on here, we might be onto something useful*. How, without getting arrested, is srchar supposed to incentivise enough drivers on his commute in order to make any sort of difference?

 

* Personally, I think the single biggest change in incentives would be a liability law, you know, like all our more civilised European neighbours have. I have evidence-based (I think) rants about it on various channels and to various people in various levels of politics whenever I get the chance. But if we all started doing something that became noticed - would that have an effect?

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HawkinsPeter [3088 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
davel wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
Awavey wrote:

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

I recommend 'Freakonomics'.  Everything is incentive.  We do things (or refrain from doing things) for pleasure (or pain).  As long as there is no incentive not to act dangerously around cyclists - and a clear incentive in doing so, because the more they do it, the more they frighten cyclists and the fewer cyclists are likely to venture abroad - then car drivers will continue to act dangerously around cyclists. 

The only question is: are you prepared to give them an incentive not to act that way around you?

Can we follow this through - genuinely - because you often espouse the angry response sort of stuff. I relate to it because I can be an angry twat too - particularly when my heart rate is up and I've just been skimmed by a berk in a couple of tons of metal.

I agree broadly with your incentives model (economics), but it applies to populations, just like it says in Freakonomics. I might be doing srchar a disservice here, but he hasn't struck me as a population.

Genuine question, because if there is some sort of consensus on here, we might be onto something useful*. How, without getting arrested, is srchar supposed to incentivise enough drivers on his commute in order to make any sort of difference?

 

* Personally, I think the single biggest change in incentives would be a liability law, you know, like all our more civilised European neighbours have. I have evidence-based (I think) rants about it on various channels and to various people in various levels of politics whenever I get the chance. But if we all started doing something that became noticed - would that have an effect?

I'm more of a fan of using cameras to discourage poor drivers. It takes more effort to submit videos to the police, but I think that having a warning letter from the police drop onto your doormat probably has more of an effect than just getting into a shouting match.

The other advantage of using cameras is that it works better if you don't retaliate or get angry (i.e. the police are more likely to agree with you) and by trying to do that, it can improve your disposition. I can certainly relate to getting angry with close passes and I used to try to catch up with the drivers to give them my opinion or desperately try to overtake them to "prove my point".

I also like to think that there's a "herd immunity" effect with cyclists using cameras. The more drivers that are caught out by cyclist cams, the more drivers that take care around cyclists (hopefully).

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davel [2718 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
HawkinsPeter wrote:
davel wrote:
Legs_Eleven_Worcester wrote:
Awavey wrote:

yeah I have had similar thoughts for sure, especially following some appalling close passes Ive had lately,though most are still in the daylight fwiw, one car last week only missed knocking me off because their wing mirror was already folded back, but part of me feels like Im letting people like that win if they bully me off the road

I recommend 'Freakonomics'.  Everything is incentive.  We do things (or refrain from doing things) for pleasure (or pain).  As long as there is no incentive not to act dangerously around cyclists - and a clear incentive in doing so, because the more they do it, the more they frighten cyclists and the fewer cyclists are likely to venture abroad - then car drivers will continue to act dangerously around cyclists. 

The only question is: are you prepared to give them an incentive not to act that way around you?

Can we follow this through - genuinely - because you often espouse the angry response sort of stuff. I relate to it because I can be an angry twat too - particularly when my heart rate is up and I've just been skimmed by a berk in a couple of tons of metal.

I agree broadly with your incentives model (economics), but it applies to populations, just like it says in Freakonomics. I might be doing srchar a disservice here, but he hasn't struck me as a population.

Genuine question, because if there is some sort of consensus on here, we might be onto something useful*. How, without getting arrested, is srchar supposed to incentivise enough drivers on his commute in order to make any sort of difference?

 

* Personally, I think the single biggest change in incentives would be a liability law, you know, like all our more civilised European neighbours have. I have evidence-based (I think) rants about it on various channels and to various people in various levels of politics whenever I get the chance. But if we all started doing something that became noticed - would that have an effect?

I'm more of a fan of using cameras to discourage poor drivers. It takes more effort to submit videos to the police, but I think that having a warning letter from the police drop onto your doormat probably has more of an effect than just getting into a shouting match.

The other advantage of using cameras is that it works better if you don't retaliate or get angry (i.e. the police are more likely to agree with you) and by trying to do that, it can improve your disposition. I can certainly relate to getting angry with close passes and I used to try to catch up with the drivers to give them my opinion or desperately try to overtake them to "prove my point".

I also like to think that there's a "herd immunity" effect with cyclists using cameras. The more drivers that are caught out by cyclist cams, the more drivers that take care around cyclists (hopefully).

Really good shout.

I don't use cameras, but have seen repeated reference to them on here in relation to diffusing situations. That could prevent my (occasional, but it does happen) red mist too - and it's all on the right side of the law.

It seems more police forces seem willing to act on footage now?

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