Witnessing a road rage incident against a cyclist at Millbank Junction this morning

This morning I looked forward to cycling to work as it was a beautiful, clear spring day. Little did I know at the outset that I would end up witnessing a particularly ugly road rage incident directed against a London cyclist…

I reached Millbank junction at about 8.20am (it’s the roundabout outside the Mi5 building, here). I waited with care for an opening, looking to my right at the traffic flying down over the bridge. However, it became rapidly apparent that an incident was unfolding directly ahead of me. I looked up and saw a male cyclist in his 30s (white guy, black hybrid, high vis vest, helmet, track-suit type clothing) who was stationary but with a car directly up against him – i.e. the car’s bumper was pressed up against the cyclist’s back tyre.

I don’t know exactly what happened. It looked like he’d been ‘bumped’ or knocked by the motorist (silver saloon, LX51 something I *think*, driver was white middle aged man in his 40s, suited).

They were shouting and the cyclist was extremely distressed and banging on the bonnet. The motorist got out of his car – the hand brake was NOT on and the car started to roll! I thought there would be a punch up. The motorist jumped back into his vehicle to put on the brake. The cyclist was still shouting (they both were) and, dropping his bike down, moved to the driver’s side to pull open the door. The altercation continued whilst traffic (including other cyclists) manoeuvred around them…

The next moment (this all happened incredibly fast) the cyclist was picking his bike up and still shouting, he turned round to the motorist and then… as my jaw dropped open in disbelief… the motorist revved/forced his way into the cyclist. Not enough to run him over, but the car was 100% definitely manoeuvred into the cyclist, and he did it twice, and it’s certainly the worst incident of road rage by a motorist against a cyclist that I have yet to witness (and I’ve seen a few). I was having to keep an eye on traffic moving around me and this was all happening very fast – but I had an extremely clear view and couldn’t quite believe what I’d seen. The next minute the car was racing off and the cyclist was getting on his bike and he too sped off, looking very shaken. Thankfully, I don’t think he was hurt, but it was an extremely unpleasant incident. By the time I was over the roundabout myself, I’d lost sight of him.

I bet it won’t even go reported. A while back I was knocked off by a black cab at Millbank Junction and I didn’t report it (which I now regret, a lot).

How many incidents like this – with various degrees of seriousness – are taking place every single day in this city, and going unreported? The vast majority I would hazard. The incident/accident stats produced by TfL are simply the tip of the iceberg I have little doubt.

I remain sickened by the way many cyclists are treated on the roads in this particular city. Infrastructure is critical, of course, but the attitude of many road users (and yes – that includes cyclists themselves at times) seems an even bigger obstacle to overcome.

5 thoughts on “Witnessing a road rage incident against a cyclist at Millbank Junction this morning

  1. Holy crap! That is outrageous and calling it “inexcusable” is an understatement. It was criminally reckless driving at the very least and very chilling to read. I hope somebody caught the driver’s license plate number, though I doubt — even if it WERE reported — that the police could do anything about it, as it would have amounted to a “your word against his” situation (I have a friend who was rear-ended badly by a car (his rear bumper and one brakelight were damaged severely), caught the license plate #, and when the police looked into it, they refused to proceed since the other driver denied even having been on that highway that night).

    I will admit that I have certainly been guilty in my time of getting ANGRY at a cyclist many times. I’d absolutely, positively, never take my anger out on anybody by using my car as a weapon and the only time I’ve ever so much as even yelled at a cyclist is when I’m responding to a cyclist yelling at me first. My pet peeve about cyclists in the Boston area is things such as:

    a) running stop signs or red lights without slowing or stopping; at least in Massachusetts (and I think all 50 states), cyclists have to follow the same rules of the road as drivers and blowing red lights is not acceptable

    b) weaving in and out of traffic in a very dangerous way — I’ve had cyclists weave around behind me while I am backing in to my driveway or into a parallel-parking spot

    c) riding much too fast on a path used for pedestrians as well as cyclists (I’ve been knocked over and literally bloodied by cyclists more than once, and by a rollerblader once)

    What is upsetting about a and b is that these practices endanger the cyclist more than anybody else — in a collision between car and cyclist there is no question who is going to get the worse injuries. But I’ve had cyclists yell at me whilst doing something reckless that is endangering themselves, where I’m following the rules of the road and they’re not (e.g. blowing a red light as I’m proceeding through a green). THAT is when I get angry. I guess Boston bicyclists are about as bad as Boston drivers: and the high-stress world we live in — where everybody works long hours and has to squeeze more in to less time every day — only contributes to people driving (or cycling) recklessly and aggressively.

    I’m terrified of riding a bike in the city — Boston and its environs are laid out (as you know from having lived here) like a European city, with a random, unplanned jumble of streets and roads. It was safer riding a bike in Illinois when I was growing up (not to mention less strenuous as there are no hills in Illinois): the roads are set on a grid pattern, and people drive more sedately.

    My philosophy about the battleground which is driving (at least in Massachusetts) is that as annoyed as you may get, road rage is never the answer. Some people are considerate and sane, some aren’t. Especially in a country like the USA, I’m not going to risk getting into any form of altercation with someone who for all I know (despite strict Massachusetts gun laws) might pull a gun on me — and the fact that somebody might be insane enough to use their car itself as a weapon is just as terrifying. I try to just shrug off these annoyances; and try to be optimistic that with all the bad eggs out there, the majority are decent people.

  2. That is really terrible. That guy should be found and prosecuted…. it’s going to take a few cases of this being brought to the Police’s attention before they do anything I bet. It is a vicious circle it seems – bike paths are needed, none are given and so it is dangerous to bike and incidents occur…..
    Is there a blog or a web page where London cyclists specifically can report these road rage incidents and/or collisions… so that there can be a proper report that is ‘on file’ for when an inevitable prosecution arises?
    Hope that makes sense.
    Please stay safe on the roads….

  3. That’s awful!
    Part of my journey to work involves a busy stretch of road that’s not very wide, but the opposite direction is always snarled up and the traffic at a standstill. There are a lot of cyclists on the route and two in particular ALWAYS annoy me and I see them every day. One cycles in the opposite direction but always on my side of the road to go round the stationary traffic going the other way, so drivers like me have to swerve right into our kerb to avoid hitting him. The other goes in the same direction as me but deliberately rides in the middle of the road so nobody can get round him (the queue of stationary traffic in the other direction is usually about a mile long or more). I mentally give them a piece of my mind from the comfort of my car, but I would NEVER do something like that.

  4. Justin – yeh, avoiding conflict is the safest option.

    Birdy – Not sure if there is a website it can be reported but it definitely should to the police. With the amount of CCTV in this city it should be easy to pursue, but depends if the victim reports it.

    Hen – yeh, in fairness a lot of cyclists are not model road-users themselves.

  5. I just dent their cars when this sort of thing happens – too much hassle going to the police. Get side on so they can’t run you over – if they start to drive off, boot the car.

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