I man drove his car at us when we were on the cargo bike this morning.
By us, I mean myself, my 5 year old and my 3 year old. He drove his car straight at us.
He wasn’t driving particularly fast, to be fair. But still, he saw us. He pulled out to pass parked cars on his side of the road. This meant he crossed the middle line and was on our side of the road.
Now, to me, in that situation, I had right of way.
I strongly believe in riding assertively, especially with a bike as big and slow as a cargo bike. So I stood my ground and forced him to stop.
So, we had a chat.
I pointed out to him that I had right of way as he was pulling out to my side of the road to pass an obstruction.
He pointed out that I have no right of way because I am on a bike.
According to him, I do not pay road tax for my bike, therefore I have no rights whatsoever on the road.
I did point out to him that nobody pays road tax and that I do indeed pay car tax…for my car.
He countered that this payment only entitled me to use the roads in my car, not on a bike. Apparently, if I had any intelligence whatsoever, I would know that.
What do you say to this?
My car tax only costs £20 per year. I pay it because that is one of the costs of driving a private car. I do not believe that £20 entitles me to drive at those I do not agree with. To risk killing or injuring or terrifying them.
Personally, I have never understood why any pedestrian would cross a busy road without using a crossing when there is one right by them. But I would never feel justified to drive at them for their choice.
I like to think that I would never deliberately drive my car at anyone.
I would love to believe that this man’s attitude was a one-off. Sadly, I don’t believe it was. I believe that there are quite a few drivers out there who would agree with him. I believe this because of the sheer number of times drivers look me in the eye and aim their cars at me and my children.
This is why I am so loath to let my 5 year old ride his bike on the road.
How did we get to this point? A point where motorists’ sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they have more rights than anyone else? A point where drivers will risk injury or death to children because they pay a nominal fee each year. Because to give way would be to add 10 seconds to their journey. 10 seconds. It took him longer to tell me how lacking in basic intelligence I was.
More importantly, how do we turn this around?
I do not expect priority on the roads when I cycle. I expect to give way when it is not my right of way. I expect others to give way when it is not their right of way. I expect to follow the rules of the road. I expect to wait at red lights. I expect to share the roads.
As a stay at home mum to two small children, I deal with issues around sharing very very regularly. Annoyingly regularly. Tediously regularly.
But I do not know how to persuade some drivers that they really do need to share the roads.
Car tax entitles you to drive your car. Nothing entitles you to use your car as a weapon.