Aggression gone mad

I have just returned from Leicester City and my route took me through Thurmaston Village. This is a traffic calmed road with a separate bypass and so is really only a through route for buses.

Yet this road seems to collect aggressive & dangerous drivers.

On this short stretch I had 5 cars overtake me in dangerous ways. All far too close to me. All having to brake hard immediately they passed me because of stopped traffic in front of them (in several cases I had to slam my brakes on to avoid going into the back of a car that had just overtaken me).

The stupidest driver gave me the finger and mouthed something at me because I stopped at a pinch point to give way to an oncoming car that had right of way. I was following a stream of dangerous drivers (who had all impatiently and dangerously overtaken me in the preceding 1/2 mile ). All these pushed through the pinch point where they were supposed to give way to an oncoming car. When I stopped to allow the car with right of way to come through they car behind me pulled out to overtake me where I was stopped at the pinch point and so completely blocked the way for the car who had right of way.

What is it with car drivers that they no longer think any of the law applies to them?

How are we ever going to improve our road safety when aggressive gormless idiots like these are allowed to drive?

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38 Comments.

  1. Dave,

    I’m afraid that none of these drivers would realise that they are the problem. I strongly believe that these ‘aggressive gormless idiots’, would blame anyone but themselves. Doubtless they would fail to recognise that utility cyclists are their friends, by removing cars from the roads, it’s highly likely that drivers such as these would believe that cyclists ‘slow them down’.

  2. As a cyclist, my concern is pinch points themselves. They are designed to slow down motor vehicles, but almost always on the assumption that cyclists don’t exist. Almost all of them can be lethal to cyclists and those on the main road through Syston are among the worst I’ve experienced.

    All but the most considerate of motorists are will tend drive cyclists off the road by virtue of the road layout.

    Traffic planners (or is that an oxymoron?) should be the target of our ire, rather than the typical motorist, such as your aunty and mine, is probably only guilty of being lazy.

    • John,

      I agree that the infrastructure makes the problems worse. Without this traffic “calming” though I am sure the road would be used even more as a race track.

      I agree that traffic planners need to change their ideas and provide much safer & faster infrastructure for cyclists.

      However, even in Holland cars and bikes are not completely segregated. On small local residential streets they are together. It is just that cars would not be able to use it as a rat run and there would not be pinch points without was for cycles to go around them.

      • I’d rather see all pinch points removed, and all speed “cusions” (inverted potholes) and speed cameras (aerial cash registers). The simple solutions is speed operated traffic signals as they have in Spain. But this will never happen over here as they do not generate revenue. Councils has built numerous obstructions to traffic flow to deliberately add to congestion in anticipation of the introduction of congestion charging. Many of these cause difficulties for both motorists and cyclists.

    • I have seen designs of improved pinch points where there is a cycle path “straight on”, through the non-roadway section.

      • Yes, but almost all are too narrow for roadsweepers – and some are even too narrow for bikes!

        • John,

          Only in the UK where we also have the additional problem of parked cars blocking access to the cycle bypass for pinch points.

          In the Netherlands they are designed and implemented properly and work well.

          • How do they achieve that ? Or is it that Dutch motorists respect cycle lanes more ?

          • Simon,

            Lots of reasons why theirs work differently.

            a) positioning. eg on entry to a town rather than in a residential street (which would have been completely closed to rat runners anyway)

            b) stricter control of on street parking

            c) cycle paths are very clearly marked and separated by distance (often several metres from the road) and kerbs. They are generally differently surfaced to the road and to the pavement.

            d) Design. the route through for cyclists is given close design attention to make sure that it is fast and safe

            e) Volume. When you design cycle facilities well to cover the whole journey then more people cycle. That means that cars will notice the cycle facility being used by lots of cyclists and so will be less inclined to block it

            f) Volume. When you get the cycling volume up a lot (which will only happen with great & continuous infrastructure) then most drivers will also be cyclists and so will be aware of the needs of cyclists.

  3. I suspect your 2nd and 3rd sentences produce the answer. No car driver needs to go through Thurmaston village – so those that are are the idiots who believe they can save themselves a few seconds and perhaps a short distance by hurtling through the village as fast as they can. Only the idiots try this! Hence the high concentration!

  4. Sorry to hear you were the victim of such aggression. I’m sure it’ll make the rest of the day seem decidedly pleasant!

    Our road planners could make a start by not designing roads that encourage conflict, pinch points being such an example. I had a driver overtake me this morning at a bollarded pinch point by going down the right side of the central bollard. Madness.

    • Hi Chris,

      The rest of the day was good (apart from having a cold).

      I agree pinch points are one of the worst bits of road design that deliberately create conflict between cyclists and drivers. Yet Leicester and Leicestershire are adding more of them and appear to consider them part of their cycling infrastructure. Daft!

  5. I live in the village and commute every day down this raod. That pinch point is an utter nightmare – drivers will try to squeeze through as you approach or even try to overtake when you are part way through.

    I cycle extremely assertively both ways through the village – it’s the only way to keep safe.

    • Steve,

      Fortunately I am not a commuter so I do my best to avoid Thurmaston at peak traffic times when it is particularly horrible, yes I do generally ride through in an assertive manner.

  6. I agree with most of the above.
    My experience causes me to wonder… do these people, that are in SUCH a hurry, have the same attitude towards ‘others’ generally? In the shopping queue, in business, in community life, in neighborhood, in family life, in their own world view… are others SUCH just an annoyance… god help them.

    • I am coming to the conclusion that cars breed aggressive behaviour and that the impact spreads across the whole of society. I think it has something to do with being insulated from the environment in a “safe” steel box which is multiplied by the time pressure cars have imposed on our society by the apparent ease and speed we can get to distant places.

      • Yes, my experience causes me to think more and more about attitudes and people’s perceptions – perceived time, expectation, speed and need all play a part… When we having that coffee? Busy time of year for you I know. See u Christmas morning at the Service.

  7. On one route, I avoid most traffic by using a particular back-road travelling East along Halliford Road [centre of map – http://bit.ly/vZoKel%5D, which leads to several car-free cut-through routes. However, no road routes are without their dangers for vulnerable road users. On this road, I have to negotiate a blind right-hand bend, so I adopt ‘primary’ in advance of the bend in order to deter stupid overtakes around it. Such attempts are quite common, a paltry ~310 metres after the bend proper, is a right turn into Squires’ garden centre. Many of the stupid overtakers turn right into Squires’ garden centre. I even get overtaken in the short stretch after the bend by people who are heading to Squires’ garden centre. The level of imbecility gets worse, because through failure to ‘look ahead’, after the unnecessary overtake, they then have to wait for oncoming traffic, which is concealed by the shallow left-hand bend beyond.
    Looking at my GPS, it takes me ~ ten seconds to negotiate the distance from the crucial overtake zone before the bend, to the Squires turn-off. Drivers will probably cover the distance in around five seconds, so being patient will only cost them five seconds or so.

    What is it about drivers, why are they so stupidly impatient, that they are quite willing to endanger a human-being in order to save several seconds?

    I looked at Peter Miller’s excellent visualisation the ITOWorld map of the casualties in the vicinity. While there haven’t been any recorded casualties in the period 2000-2010, that doesn’t mean there’s no risk.

    The ‘I must overtake the cyclist even if it kills them’ mind-set must surely be one of the most dangerous manoeuvres.

    • Peter Miller’s excellent visualisation the ITOWorld map of road casualties 2000-2010 is here:
      http://map.itoworld.com/road-casualties-uk#

    • Excellent points. I also take a primary position (close to the centre while line) to avoid cars overtaking me on a blind corner. There are a pair of corners in Cossington which tempt cars to overtake completely blind.

      “The ‘I must overtake the cyclist even if it kills them’ mind-set must surely be one of the most dangerous manoeuvres.”

      It seems to me that drivers must view cyclists as stationary objects, as debris on the road. Thus they have to always pass or stop still for ever.

    • Really interesting useful map thanks LIAB. By record, it’s less hazardous via Barkby Thorpe than via Melton Road… but I have a similar ‘blind bend’ http://bit.ly/rOosDx and also some similarly crazy overtakers… I don’t know why they can’t wait? They CAN’T see what’s coming!!!!!?

  8. Really interesting useful map thanks LIAB. By record, it’s less hazardous via Barkby Thorpe than via Melton Road…

  9. I don’t think it is cars that breed aggressive behaviour.
    I think the way people live there lives creates stressed out, time poor, unconsidered human beings – it’s just that when they are behind the wheel of a car it becomes a more lethal combination.

    Compulsory yoga is the way forward :0)

    • Teddy,

      I think it is interesting to reflect on the contribution of cars to “the way people live there lives creates stressed out, time poor, unconsidered human beings”.

      Seems to me that the car is actually a key factor in creating stressed out, time poor, unconsidered human beings. The influence of the car on the design of our communities and the way we do things is immense.

  10. I agree with Teddy Slazenger, for the most part, but, inconsideration is the key. In generations gone by people were, undoubtedly, more considerate of their peers. That has been lost, we are now left with a fast growing selfish minority, of car drivers, bus drivers, lorry drivers, and sad to say cyclists, who are allowed to get away with their self pre-occupied abuse of the laws of the road because of a total lack of policing.

    • WelsehCyclist,

      and what are the causes of inconsideration? Seems to me that locking people inside steel boxes, separating them from people and relying on vast structures that are not to human scale all contribute significantly.

      • Well Dave, that’s something I could type about for a very long time, but to put it in a nutshell, it’s the way people are brought up, educated, lack of sporting interests therein, etc., etc.. “Locking them up in steel boxes and relying on vast structures that are not to human scale…” doesn’t help, but I don’t believe are as important as what’s in my nutshell.

        • WelshCyclist,

          I don’t disagree with your nutshell particularly 🙂 But all of those are directly influenced by the widespread use of cars.

          For example education.

          – The use of private cars to transport kids to/from school makes our towns more congested, it makes our streets feel less safe.

          – Studies show that kids who walk to school are more awake and concentrate better. So the car has another negative impact on education.

          By no means the only issue affecting education but yet another area where the dependence and overuse of private cars has a negative impact.

          • I can only agree with the way you describe the impact of overuse of cars, but basically the attitude of society has changed from a much more mellow co-existence to downright selfishness. Which is about as negative as you can get, I’m 61 years old and I’ve seen the cahanges happening.

          • The more selfish attitudes in society are not solely down to the use of cars, of course. In fact, it may be that the selfishness you speak of is not a consequence of car use at all.
            Having lived in cultures which are totally car-dependent due to geography and therefore with a much higher car use per person per day, I see no correlation to increased selfishness.
            I am a keen cyclist with three bikes, but my car is crucial to the smooth running of my business and essential to meeting my family’s commitments.
            A bit more give and take may be required here.

          • There isn’t any scope for give and take on roads where drivers are so anti bike that they quite willingly put the cyclist in danger, so they are not slowed in any way on their journey. It happens to me everyday. On top of that at least 70% of drivers, good and bad, fail to adhere to the speed limits, because the roads aren’t policed, and so these totally selfish individuals can do as they please.

  11. A significant percentage of drivers are bullies, I tend to suspect that the ones who aren’t are probably cyclists or just very nice people. I experience bullying on the roads. I have even been bullied by women, since even a small car weighs much more and has far more power and can go much faster than I do on my bicycle. They do it because they are inside metal armour and because they can, it’s the return of the mediaeval principle of ‘might is right’. In my experience, the worst ones are 4×4 drivers [especially high-performance types], hot hatch drivers, very young drivers and anyone with an extremely loud stereo that is better-suited to performing seismic surveys than ‘easy listening’.

    Aggressive Driving – Three Studies
    http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=agdrtext#2B

    A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON AGGRESSIVE DRIVING RESEARCH
    http://www.stopandgo.org/research/aggressive/tasca.pdf

    • From the AAA foundation

      An average of at least 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the United States as a result of “aggressive driving.”

  12. Isolated in their armour I believe they don’t even see us as other human beings, just something that needs to be overtaken, and most definitely not to be giving way to. I agree 4×4 drivers are definitely the worst of the bunch, a fact of “nice car, when are you going to learn to drive it!”

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