You’re cycling along, trying to get to work on time, feeling good with your new iPhone app tracking your progress and at some point the inevitable happens. Some clever person has found an incredible parking spot that just so happens to be a bike lane. This usually occurs roughly in the first 10 metres of leaving home.
Of course as a safe cyclist you know what you need to do and you start heading into the main traffic glancing behind to see who will let you in. For whatever reason the cars are feeling less than friendly today. Perhaps it is because they have been reading the latest rant in the Daily Mail about how cyclists are the cause of world poverty and are the reason it is raining today and are the reason it’s impossible to find a babysitter this weekend.
Eventually you manage to sneak in and then a white van driver (it doesn’t have to be white, after all we don’t live in the days of “they can have any colour they want as long as it’s black”) squeezes past within a few inches of you at a hair raising speed. It forces you to hit your brakes so as not to get hit as it pulls back into the lane too soon.
Naturally you feel the urge for retribution. But what is the best kind of retribution?
The Guardian reported last week on the benefit of reporting bad drivers rather than getting into an argument with them. The reporter Peter Walker (who has a cool ‘tash) managed to get a taxi driver cautioned and a note added to his record about his bad behaviour. Any repeat offenses would likely mean he would lose his licence.
Sure it’s probably not what in your deepest darkest thoughts you dream of doing to bad drivers.You probably think about kicking them in the belly, punching them or staring at them really angrily. (Most people usually go down the route of the final one).
How to report bad drivers
The first step is to make a mental note of the number plate, time and location. When I say mental note I mean write that stuff down because you are going to forget!
If they are a London minicab or black cab driver then the Public Carriage Office is the route to go. Note however that they only have the power to look into cases of “discourtesy or abuse”.
You can also complain to TfL about dangerous bus drivers. If outside of London then the local council is your point of contact.
Alternatively if you can see which company the van belongs to then try contacting that company. Of course there is also the CTC Stop SMIDSY campaign where dangerous drivers can be reported.
Finally if all else fails then speak to the police. Usually for any serious notice to be taken then a witness is needed and the driving has to be dangerous not just bad.
The one thing to note with all of this is that it requires persistence on your part. Overall while nothing substantial may result out of the complaint it is useful to be make people aware of the issue rather than have them think “all our drivers are angels of the road”.