“Bloody cyclists! Acting like you own the roads. You don’t even pay road tax – you shouldn’t be allowed on the roads!”
It wasn’t what he said – or, rather, shouted – that got to me, or even how he said it (I like to think he was shaking his fist, but that might be my imagination getting the better of me).
No. It was just that I couldn’t work out why he was shouting at me.
It was early evening. I was on my way home from work – heading down Tufnell Park Road, to be precise. Just in front of me, a rather battered looking car had stopped on the corner while turning left. This had effectively plugged the flow of traffic through the junction, causing something of a stand off.
I tried to move past it, but when I went to overtake the aforementioned battered looking car I found my way blocked. While I waited for him to get a move on, the equally battered looking driver leant out of his window and launched into a tirade.
It took me a little while to realise it was directed at me. The crime I was being accused of committing was undertaking him while he was indicating to turn left.
While he ranted, I considered my next move. I could attempt to argue with him. I could point out to him that there’s no such thing as ‘road tax’: that it was abolished in the 1930s, and that what he called ‘road tax’ is actually ‘vehicle tax’ and is based on a vehicle’s emissions. I could explain that road maintenance is paid for out of general taxation, which we all contribute to (and if the state of his car was anything to go by, I suspected my contributions were somewhat bigger than his).
Or I could point out what – to me anyway – seemed blindingly obvious. He was shouting at entirely the wrong person.
Surely he could see there was no way I could have undertaken him? I was still exactly where I had been all along – behind him. For a cyclist to have undertaken him they would now be somewhere in front of him…and in fact, there was indeed another cyclist, now half way down the road (and completely oblivious to what was going on behind him).
Clearly he couldn’t.
Consequently, I realised, any argument would be completely wasted on him. And so I took what I saw as the only sensible course of action – I burst out laughing and rode away.