Getting run over – or almost – by drivers making illegal left turns is becoming unwelcome.
Last time it was a car turning left from Cowley Road into Iffley Road next to the clear-for-all-to-see No Left Turn sign. I went over her bonnet.
This time, it was a van turning left from High Street into Longwall Street, again clearly signed No Left Turn and the kerb designed at a sharp 90 degrees angle to make a turn nigh impossible. Undeterred, the guy edged forward in the heavy traffic made worse by the closure of Abingdon and Botley Roads.
I followed behind slowly in the cycle lane – then, without indication, no warning at all, he just jammed on his brakes and swung a sharp left. Due to the weather, I was out with enough lurid Lycra and mega-headlights to blind anyone looking directly at me. Quite how he missed me is a mystery. Perhaps he did see me.
I jammed on my brakes and stopped just in time not to get dragged under the van as it roared up Longwall Street. I stopped and looked around incredulously. The taxi driver following the van shrugged his shoulders and gesticulated, “Wow, lucky you stopped, that was crazy”. I had a second to choose – chase the guy down and “have a word”, or go home and put my toddler to bed. Glad I’d managed to save my life, I rode home to read a bedtime story.
Just a quick nod to the writers of all those “I hate cyclists” letters published continually in the Oxford Mail. Near-death incidents bring home just how pathetic it is to bleat about unlit cyclists and red light jumpers. They won’t kill or even hurt a driver, so grow up and fret about something that actually matters.
Cyclists are not a danger on the roads – they are all too often in danger. Staying safe on a bike means anticipating drivers’ next moves, steering clear of speeders and especially of people using their mobile while driving.
That’s fine, and I take the same precautions when I drive, but it’s impossible to anticipate random and flagrant breaches of the law.
Later, I noticed an email detailing plans by the county council to ban left turns by bicycles from High Street into Longwall Street. “Rich,” I thought – actually stopping motor vehicles turning left would be more like it.
The idea is to improve traffic light sequencing by not having pedestrians wait for potential left-turning bikes, which makes sense. But to do this, the council intends to remove the short left-turn filter lane for bikes and to remove a triangular refuge which is supposed to make the left-turn too acute for motor vehicles. The triangular refuge does not always work, but to remove it completely will create a free-for-all where vans and cars can and will turn left willy-nilly, at great cost to pedestrians and cyclists.
A much more effective and cheaper idea would be to keep the cycle filter lane and the triangular refuge, but to add a rumble strip on the cycle lane with a Give Way sign, so that the odd left-turning cyclist can give way to pedestrians crossing Longwall Street.