Claire Black: Tragedy awaiting innocent cyclists

Footage from a head camera shows a confrontation between a pedestrian and a cyclist. Picture: Hemedia
Footage from a head camera shows a confrontation between a pedestrian and a cyclist. Picture: Hemedia
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YOU don’t need to watch every one of the 19-seconds of video (captured by head-cam) of a man verbally abusing and then pushing a female cyclist into the traffic to feel his fury.

Even the single image that’s been flying around the web as people have tried to find out who he is (he’s now handed himself into police) conveys his terrifying rage, which could have led to a tragedy.

Does that sound a bit melodramatic? A tragedy? I’m a cyclist and I don’t think so.

It’s not my choice of words that is out of control, it’s that level of aggression towards cyclists on our roads. I wouldn’t say that every time I’m on my bike in heavy traffic I think someone is trying to kill me, but aggression, wilful disregard for my safety, resentment of the fact that I’m even on the road? Yes, I can pretty much say that I experience that almost every time I’m on my bike.

“Please don’t try and knock me off,” is what you hear the cyclist say in the video as she passes a pedestrian crossing the road. And you might think, what kind of person would do that? Then he appears again. He calls her “a mug” accuses her of having given him “the finger” and then pushes her so hard that she falls over and into the road. You hear her whimper and see the skewed and shaky images and then the video ends as she gets herself and her bike off the road. They were both lucky that there was no car coming.

No-one has pushed me off my bike. But they have sworn at me, shouted at me, given me the finger. Ask the cyclists you know. They’ll tell you something similar. Ask the drivers and you might start hearing stories about “them” jumping the lights, going too fast and all the rest. Basically what they’re saying is that cyclists are asking for it.

I’m not condoning reckless behaviour by drivers or cyclists. It’s just that if your idea of teaching someone a lesson is pushing them into on-coming traffic or trying to ram them with your car or van, you need to have a word with yourself.

Travelling down Dundas Street in Edinburgh one evening, a white van annoyed the driver of the car behind it – the one just ahead of me – by flicking his indicator on and then off, twice, before he actually turned right. The car behind, when the van finally turned, swung round it so violently I had to swerve to avoid him, coming within inches of hitting the kerb, at speed, going downhill. If that had have happened, I would’ve gone over the handlebars and probably landed on my head. At the red light further ahead, my heart still racing, my hands still shaking, I pulled alongside the car and knocked on his window. “Do you realise you nearly knocked me off my bike?” I asked.

“You shouldn’t have been overtaking me on that side.” And, in a way, he had a point. Not a good one, though. “Would blaming me have made you feel better if I’d been killed?” I asked. I don’t know what his answer was because he just drove away.

I’ve had my fill of GBBO

Like a sunken souffle or an over-tempered chocolate ganache, The Great British Bake Off has, for me, lost its appeal. It feels a bit like when you are given an enormous slice of a really delicious cake. First take, what could be nicer? And for the first few mouthfuls (series – let’s run with this analogy) all is well; the sponge is light, the butter cream sweet, it is a joy. And then the sugar-induced sweats begins (Paul’s smugness as he approaches each bench attempting to freak them out with his totally predictable mind games) and each mouthful gets a little trickier to get over (Mary is definitely looking a bit weary) and you have to use a swig of tea to help (Mel and Sue are the tea in this scenario which is, I apologise, starting to feel like overworked dough) and soon enough, it’s all over no more cake. The other night as I watched them making Spanish wind torte, some kind of multilevel meringue extravaganza, all I could think was the fact that I was feeling bilious. I felt the same about the crème brûlée. If I no longer want to eat what they bake and I’ve gone off Hollywood’s “banter”, then it’s game over. I’m waiting for the timer to go off and I know when I open the oven door, the sponge is burned. I recognise this is more a mild inconvenience than a tragedy, but my fear is that a precedent is being set. What if I discover I’ve gone off Strictly too?

Why so smug on Segway?

I was sitting in a restaurant in London when a man went past the window on a Segway, one of those two-wheeled accidents waiting to happen – just ask Usain Bolt, who was knocked flying in the Bird’s Nest stadium by a cameraman who was riding one. What’s it about? Segways I mean. I get that it doesn’t have to be about anything, it’s just silliness, fun, gadgetry, gimmickry, whatever. But the people riding Segways always look so smug, rather than embarrassed by the fact that they have spent five grand on something that looks like it’s one step up from a lolo ball in terms of travelling efficiency. Am I missing the point? Is there a point? Surely no one would willingly look that ridiculous for no reason at all?