Have you ever had cycle rage? I’m not talking about car drivers against cyclists, nor cyclists against car drivers, but instead cyclists against cyclists. You see, I am ashamed to admit it but every now and then I get the rage. Of course I don’t act on it, but when it happens I stew inside often for the duration of my bike ride. Let’s take Friday night as a recent example:
Tired and exasperated by working late on a FRIDAY night (puh-lease!), I set off on my usual route cycling home. Thinking that I had missed the evening rush hour I had high expectations of a pleasant, smooth ride in the golden autumn light. These expectations were thwarted when I headed northwards up the hill on Amwell Street, Angel. It was unusually congested and cars were stationary in traffic right up to where Great Percy Street meets Amwell Street. I ploughed up the hill using the cycle lane and started to approach another cyclist who had overtaken me previously. He was cycling at a slow speed because he was stuck behind another cyclist who was cruising at what I would call walking pace. Sandwiched between the stationary traffic and the pavement, I found myself on the SLOW TRAIN to FRIDAY NIGHT DISAPPEARING. And this was a train I did not want to be on.
Now the issue is this, I know the exact time it takes for the lights at the junction to Pentonville Road to go green and usually it changes when I am approaching from about 20 metres away. But because I was on the SLOW BIKE TRAIN I watched the lights go green and then back to red before my eyes. Cue the anger pangs in my belly. The rest of my cycle ride was then tarnished. Every pedestrian decided to cross at a zebra crossing, every traffic light turned red and to top it all off, a car cut me up when I tried to turn right.
Now, I have preached before that us cyclists should stick together (see post), after all, we are a traffic minority with a collective consciousness, sharing the belief that cycling is a better way to get around. We have consciously made the decision to cycle and that is what we have in common. But when the rage kicks in, these ideals go out the window and I join the taxi drivers and the van drivers in their permanent traffic fury.
My cycle rage did not manifest into aggressive behaviour, nor even rude body language, this is not my style. It did however make me frustrated and miserable, when really I should be patient and pleased that there is another cyclist on the streets on London. Indeed, I feel this now, but not then. So please don’t get me wrong, this is a rarity and I love seeing other cyclists out and about. It’s more like the feeling of when you have picked the wrong queue at the supermarket. I am frustrated because cycling connotes freedom and mobility (apart from the traffic lights!) and being able to skip the traffic. Nothing can stop you, but when it does on a Friday night when I am tired and have worked late it is hard to shake.
So, am I alone in this cycle fury? I googled ‘bike rage’ and just had the typical incidents of car drivers attacking cyclists, like this one. There really isn’t much press about cyclists getting angry with other cyclists. Maybe I’m alone with this one. Have you ever had cycle rage?