Best foot forward

It isn’t just me who has noticed this. Consider a bicycle stopped at the front of a queue of traffic, all waiting for the lights to change. When they do so, the car immediately behind the bicycle has a tendency to try and pass the bicycle in first or, at best, second gear.

MrrrrmmmmMMMMMEEHHHHH, goes the car. Its revs climb to the point where engine parts scrape together. And still the car tries desperately to overtake.

I can’t decide whether this arises from a fear of changing gear when there are bikes around—as if any car driver worries about steering with only one hand, I mean, really—or part of the larger phenomenon of posturing. Bicycles taking up too much space, i.e. the space allotted to them by the Highway Code, ar routinely beeped at. Cycle lanes are crowded by buses and white vans, until there’s barely room for a set of handlebars. When you see a cycle path on the pavement rather than on the road, it isn’t there for the benefit of cyclists (both in intention, and empirically by comparing accident statistics). It’s there to keep them out of drivers’ hair.

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