“Next time it happens, get the number plate”. This was what the 101 operator at the end of the phone told me when I reported an act of aggressive and dangerous driving.
Last night I experienced a very nasty incident of dangerous driving. On my way home from a work event, I was changing lanes when a very large, silver car completely cut me up, over took me on my right hand side and then swerved in front of me. If I hadn’t swerved out of the way, he would have hit me full on and I would have ended up on his bonnet. It didn’t end there. When I reached the traffic lights, he hung out of his window, laughed and gave me the thumbs up and insinuated that he did it to teach me a lesson, and it was my fault.
Let me get one thing clear. In a move that would make my driving instructor cry with pride, I looked, I signaled, I maneuvered. Very clearly. This car went out of his way to try and hit me.
I’m usually a very ‘in the moment’ kind of cyclists. I wouldn’t ever let a knock affect me. So after a, shall we say, heated discussion, I cycled home. However, his actions and lack of remorse had made me so angry, that this morning I decided to report it to the Metropolitan Police. I called 101, and the exchange I had with the operator has made me more angry than almost being mowed down by a laughing lunatic.
I’ll describe the operator as uninterested. And that’s generous. I was asked if I had the number plate, and just received a huge sigh when I said I hadn’t. Every cyclists will have been in a similar situation at a traffic light in London before, and once you’re pretty sure you’re not dead getting a license plate is not your top priority. The conclusion of the phone call was that I would have to go into my local police station to report the incident.
So what was the point in calling?
So far this year 8 cyclists have been killed on London roads. The Metropolitan Police need to be doing everything they can to curb dangerous driving and send a message to drivers that this sort of behavior is not acceptable. It took me a lot of courage to call to report the incident and I thought really seriously about whether this was the route I wanted to go down. After the way I was treated on the phone, I probably wouldn’t bother to call again.
If other cyclists have had experiences like mine, then no wonder London has such a bad cycling reputation. Yet if we don’t report what happens to us, how will the situation improve? I hope someone at the Metropolitan Police reads this blog and takes action. Train your operators to be interested and engaged. Encourage them to be sympathetic. The person on the other end of the line might actually have been very badly shaken up by the experience and spent 15 minutes afterwards crying down the phone to their wonderful Mum. Don’t just dismiss them because they weren’t actually injured.
If I get hit by a car again, then I will report it. We need to keep logging these incidents and make good old Boris sit up and take action. I care about cycling safely on safe roads. I care about being bale to jump on my bike and not worry about being hit at every single junction. I care about keeping my fellow cyclists safe.
It’s just a shame the Metropolitan Police don’t seem to.