Last week I came across this video on my Twitter feed:
The cyclist is by no means in the wrong, the vehicle driver was impatient and shouldn’t have swerved etc etc etc… This post isn’t a depiction of who’s right and wrong. What I want to discuss is how the contribution of the footage added to the internet and “google your registration plate tonight” won’t help me or any other cyclist on the road and by doing this it’s more likely to make the driver/cyclist war worse.
Last year around about this time I was hit by a car turning left at a junction on the way to work – The person didn’t see me regardless of lights and reflective clothing. Luckily I was un-scathed and my bike was also without damage. The effects of this incident left me shaken and it took a while for me to gain confidence on the roads again. As a result of this accident I asked for my family to group together to get a GoPro which would enable me to film my commutes as well as other side projects etc.
My approach to using a camera on my commutes wasn’t to become the Traffic Droid, for one I’ve absolutely no idea how TD or anyone else who uploads these videos has time to do so. It was simply a safety net, incase anything did happen I’d have tangible evidence to show the situation and prove right or wrong.
Whether the driver in said video was using his car to ‘warn/scare’ the cyclist I’m unsure – he comes up close as he’s almost passed the cyclist but for basis of this post we’ll move on from that. However it does pose a question for later on*
“Look up the highway code and you’ll find you’re wrong” – I’ve said the same thing in the past however the realisation that almost every single driver on the road won’t have seen the highway code since they passed their test makes this statement true but completely useless. The underlaying problem of inconsistency with our driving rules and regulations.
“Look up your reg online” …
I’ve come to realise that driving a car is agonising as it is, the road users, the roads and how poorly maintained they are, the traffic, the arrogance of so many other road users. I’m 100x more frustrated and tempered when I’m driving a car then when I’m cycling. In the past I’ve tried two methods of approaching road users, the “you’re wrong, what the hell are you doing, possible swearing etc” OR the calm approach, “do you realise I was potentially on your bonnet just then”.
The later has always worked better for me, even if the driver shows a degree of arrogance it’s still digested better. No one likes to be to be immediately condemned, no one likes to be told their wrong. Approaching a situation like this won’t convert the driver to make them realise their wrong doings and completely change their outlook on driving, sadly not.
Lets say the driver of the above heads home with the knowledge that he’s now going to be slandered on the internet. He types his reg number into google and the video appears, how do you think he’ll react? I’d imagine angered and enraged. Do you think his approach to cyclists will change now? Will he take a wide birth next time he’s presented with a similar situation? Or do you think think all of the above will merely antagonise him thus making his opinion and approach to cyclists worse?
I use my camera as a back up incase anything unfortunate happens. On just about every commute there’s a foolish manoeuvre or arrogant move but uploading footage like this wont change that. Naming and shaming won’t make the said driver of BK63WFZ re visit his highway code and approach any other cyclist on the road with caution.
People don’t work like that.
The effects of this kind of antagonising will only make it worse for any other cyclist on the road.
*If this ‘swerve’ was seen as using his vehicle as a weapon should the video not be passed on to the police for them to deal with? I know the immediate response will be that they won’t care to do anything but if this is an ‘incident’ would the correct method be to report the situation and all the details?