The UK road casualty statistics nearly jumped a little this morning, a girl on a bike decided the safest way to move to the middle of the road for a right turn was to attempt without looking to merge into a stream of moving traffic. Right in front of me as I drove in to work. It worked, I guess, the Turbocharged Rollerskate's servo-assisted brakes and my panic-fast reaction meant the car stood on its nose and she passed unscathed millimetres from my front bumper. Outside the city centre 20mph speed limit she might not have been quite so fortunate, and I would certainly not have come away unscathed had the car behind me not left a decent gap and had similar quick reactions.
I could at this point launch into a rant about cyclists, denounce them as the vermin of the streets and call for a cull enforced by Robocop-style special attack squads with lethal force. After all, that seems to be the usual level of debate when cyclists and motorists meet. Unfortunately though here I hit a snag. I'm a cyclist too. I no longer commute to work by bike because work is too far from home, but for years I too pedalled my way across my city morning and evening and I too cursed the apparent blindness of motorists.
So I'll save my ire. I think the girl in question is damned lucky not to be in casualty or even a morgue today and I think she needs to learn pretty quickly what a shoulder check is, but her ineptitude is not the fault of cyclists as a whole. Instead I'd like to question what she was doing there in the first place.
That part of my city is well served by designated cycle routes. Special coloured lanes on the road, albeit rather narrow ones. In the orgy of greenwash from Government, cycling has been decreed as a Good Thing, and councils everywhere have scrambled to show how cycle-friendly they are. Unfortunately though in my city they seem not to have engaged the services of a cyclist when it came to planning their cycle routes. The girl this morning was not in her own lane because the designated cycle route takes a detour a block over. No problem if you have a motor, but who in their right mind is going to waste energy pedalling further than they need to? My council has ticked the "cycle-friendly" box but has in reality done nothing to separate cyclists - inept or otherwise - from the rush-hour traffic.
So that's enough ranting for the morning. Please excuse me, my heart rate will eventually return to normal and the steam coming from my ears will reduce in due course. One dubious benefit though - there's nothing like a panic-driven adrenaline rush to dispel those early morning girl-fog blues!