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Thursday 29th May 2008

I love the way that some road users decide to make up their own Highway Code. It's nice. Keeps you on your toes.
I was cycling home from the gym this evening, in the bus lane on the Goldhawk Road. I was pretty tired and hungry, but going at a reasonable pace for a cyclist and was close to the edge of the road and in any case, away from the traffic in the non-bus lane. Suddenly a car just behind me beeped its horn loudly at me. It was quite a shock and caused me to wobble slightly, as I both looked back to see how had beeped me, as well as trying to work out what the warning was for. The car was passing me, but was too far away to be endangering me and I could see nothing wrong. But the car was slowing slightly and still not beyond me entirely and the driver started to turn left into a road just in front of me. I had to brake a little to let him through.
It was clear that the horn blast had not been to do with any transgression on my part, but was in fact a warning from him that he intended to turn left and wasn't prepared to wait the three seconds required for me to get passed the road he was turning into. Of course this was ludicrous on several levels, mainly because there was no way I could interpret his beeping as meaning that, but I guess he felt that as I couldn't see his indicators, as he was behind me, he'd better give me some idea that something was about to happen and just hope I understood.
I know bikes are an inconvenience to many other motorists and I agree that when cyclists break the laws of the road by jumping lights or going on pavements it is annoying (though I am occasionally guilty of such misdemeanours, but think it is OK because in this case it is me that is doing it, which I feel should be allowed). But for a driver to decide that he has right of way over a bike just because it is delaying his journey by a few seconds is a bit much.
As when I got hit by a car's wing mirror, I had a slight rush of blood to the head at this man's insensitive, impatient and dangerous driving, but this time I didn't try to catch him up to let him know what an idiot I thought he was. He looked quite hard and I was too tired to be able to give chase to a motorised vehicle.
But just to let other drivers out there know, a long beep close up to a cyclist is not an official signaling technique for turning left. Maybe if enough people start doing it then the Highway Code will be forced to adopt it, but for the moment let's stick with using those (I agree) much less convenient flicking yellow lights.

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