I don't know about you, but I am not feeling very comfortable on the roads or in traffic at the moment. Sunday's so-far-unexplained incident with multiple riders down on SCD has made me very nervous. I don't like to have anyone in a motor vehicle anywhere near me, especially behind.

Cycling is not relaxing anymore. If it ever was. I am coming to think that if you are relaxed while riding you are not paying enough attention and you are likely to be eating bitumen any moment. 

A case in point... I, perhaps stupidly, rode through Chatswood this morning. I am starting to f#@$ing hate Chatswood.

(A short aside:  A couple of weeks ago I was riding quickly in the kerbside lane of Archer St when I became aware of a truck driving close behind me but in the second lane. It slowly overtook me up the hill but, before it was completely past, the driver deliberately began moving left, squeezing me very close to the parked cars, then came into my lane and began to turn left into Ashley St with me still beside him. I was yelling. LOUDLY. It was quite intentional, unprovoked, not a {S}MIDSY, and calculated to intimidate if not actively endanger me, because he was watching me in his mirror the whole time and verbally abused me after I braked hard and moved out around him. I reported it to his company.)

Back to this morning. I'd done what I needed to do in the CBD and I had made it out, or so I thought, via the bicycle route marked along Claude St. This goes between the Albert Ave car park and a couple of major building sites. It used to be a two-way street but now has a short one-way-north section just at the extreme northern end. I was going south so had to use the crappy footpath past the exit of the car park to reach the dead-end of the two-way section of Claude St again. I was travelling quite slowly, certainly no more than 10 km/h, especially because there was a large brick-laden semi-trailer stationed in the middle of the narrow carriageway with cars parked along my left all the way up to it.

My eagle eyes spotted a potential hazard -- the driver of the truck was on the rear of the trailer, 15 metres away, and appeared to be about to jump down right in my path. Had he seen me? I veered slightly to my left while trying to establish eye-contact with him. No, he was not going to jump into my path at all, at least not before the driver of the last parked car I was passing flung open his door causing me to hit the concrete with a strangled yell of "F#@$ you" and a loud clatter of metal. 

Bloody hell it happened quickly. With split-second precision. Even at less than 10km/h there was no way I could avoid it. One second the road was "clear", a millisecond later there was the end of a car door wrapping itself around my handlebar. One second I was rolling, a millisecond later I was grovelling in the dirt, figuratively speaking. Mind-bogglingly quick it was.

The offender was aware that he was in the wrong and was keen to know if I was "all right". Fortunately I was and, after I'd delivered a short lecture on what he should have done to prevent the incident, I departed, licking my wounded pride, or some such metaphor.

I've written about this sort of thing before, disturbingly not that long ago I now see. Maybe I had become complacent again but who would have thought that it wasn't the hazard on the right that was going to get me, it was the unseen one out of left field. Of course, that is what I should have thought.

It is the first time I have ever been driver-doored in my 40+-year cycling career. (I was passenger-doored once, also at low speed.) I must not let it happen ever again. The take away message is:

NEVER let your guard down.

For the rest of the day, to calm myself and restore mental equilibrium, I think I will use the internet as therapy and look at pictures of funny cats. That's what it's for, after all.

"Do I even want to know what happened?" 

Views: 452

Comment by PeterT on March 18, 2014 at 3:38pm

Page 297 item 269 (3)

- but you probably already know it. 

So.... meow!

Comment by Bill Parker on March 18, 2014 at 3:47pm

I think I will do all my cycling in Centennial Park, after closing, with no cars and just the axe murders to watch out for. Sorry to hear this Neil but pride heals fairly quick, go and have a look at all your Audax medals, that should make it better.

Comment by baa baa on March 18, 2014 at 4:21pm

I think it is about time someone said it, so here goes…

The whole JRA* thing is now but a distant memory.

And yes, I am feeling the same way about riding and also know that door in the face slowmo feeling, not good, still spooked.(*Just Riding Along)

Comment by Bill Parker on March 18, 2014 at 5:10pm
You look so pretty, as you were riding along....
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9WmhMKWt8DI
(Warning Neil BV)
Comment by Mark Lambert on March 18, 2014 at 7:16pm

I was really nervous before the Sunday incident. On Wednesday I saw a pedestrian get run down when she was crossing at the lights with a green walk signal. And then I saw the same thing (different location) yesterday. On Thursday I was so rattled I just kept the kids home from school.

Today the wife had to go to work, even though she is on maternity leave. So I had three kids in the cargo bike.

Lots of riding on footpaths, which I hate - driveways, bumps, too narrow etc. Very, very cautious when crossing roads - saw two cars run red lights. Despite all this, had a good day on the bike, and will do it all again tomorrow. 

Comment by Robflyte on March 19, 2014 at 6:14am

Neil goes all tyre turd face when you mention BV. maybe they can release a car door app to warn drivers of a bike rider approaching.

Comment by Dick Portus on March 20, 2014 at 7:34pm

Just watched that piece of crap from BV(1.30 mins actually) Makes me want to puke.Condescending pack of a/holes.Yes. I pulled a face, but not a childish ttf. It was just a face. I'm with Neil. If I was a non violent person, I would certainly like to give the speaker a slap, or even a nasty scratch at least. Last week has certainly been horrific and have been giving cyclists a wider gap than usual. 

Comment by noelbike on March 20, 2014 at 8:33pm

I really appreciate the message about how fast it happened and the matter of the distraction. 

How can we encourage people to get active, get out of cars, and ride? I'll ride till I can't and I reckon I'll be in my 90's.

But I've always ridden. For someone that hasn't it it currently looking unlikely that they'll take it up.

The issue of inattentive drivers is finally coming to the fore.

Comment by John Knight on March 21, 2014 at 8:20am

It does happen fast. I got done on the Pacific Hway Nth Sydney in June/July and it took all of a couple of milliseconds.

Lucky you didn't get hurt - Even a slow fall can be nasty if you hit the ground the wrong way!

BTW, what bike were you on? There no extra discounts for scratches on my saddle!

Comment by Neil Alexander on March 21, 2014 at 8:54am

Haha.

Er, I mean, oh d@mn!!

Not to worry, I was on my ancient commuter MTB, the saddle of which needs replacing irrespective of any possible crash damage.

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