This is what our everyday through-all-weathers school run vehicle looks like in daylight hours...

...and this is what we look like on a winter's night on the way back from school - oh for the joys of scotchlite!

More trike at night.

One of the best parts of the day is the school run. Daisy sits in the front box happily navigating the route as best as a one-and-a-half-year-old can (ie. multiple ah-ah-ing coupled with confusing arm gesticulations) while Molly pedals along on my rear constantly chirruping about the vagaries of the weather (‘looks like rain, mummy’; ‘bit windy!’; ‘thick fog!’ – it’s like having a small Michael Fish on board) or the state of various tyre-squashed road kill (‘well that’s taught that squirrel a lesson it won’t forget!’).  

The only downside to cycling to school and back everyday is the worry of some of the drivers. Most are pretty good but there’s enough idiots to make me fret – they race through the lanes (often on their mobiles) slowing for nothing  so inconsequential as a bike-trike contraption loaded with children.  

What amazes me is the amount of  drivers who overtake on blind corners. They see us with little Molly on the back in her bright yellow jacket and yet that’s not enough to slow down and think twice about overtaking. So they plummet into a bend when they can’t see what’s coming, only to discover that – lo! alas! – an oncoming vehicle is bearing down on them fast. I have actually tracked down a driver who did this to me. The woman (who has three young boys) was in one of these big fat four-by-fours. I’d seen her quite a few times charging about the place often on her mobile phone. When I said to her: ‘Please don’t overtake me on blind corners into oncoming vehicles’, the response was: ‘It was perfectly safe!’ Note that the oncoming vehicle had to come to a sudden and virtual standstill to avoid a head-on collision and I was cut-up and nearly shoved down a ditch. I pointed this out, so the woman then replied rather huffily: ‘Well, there was nowhere else  for me to go!’ I said that she could have waited behind me until she could see around the corner (which takes all of about 3-6 seconds) but I could see she wasn’t relishing this conversation so I cycled off.  

I had another similar incident just the other day.  This time I was out riding alone on my Roberts.  I was heading into a blind corner when I was overtaken at speed by two cars. The first car made it back on to the left-hand side of the road just before an oncoming vehicle loomed around the corner, the driver looking shocked to see a car (the second one overtaking me) heading directly for him on the wrong side of the road. He blasted his horn, veered up the verge while the car overtaking me swerved back across the road missing me by a millimetre. It was one of those heart-stopping moments when your legs turn to jelly but I kept going around the corner, where I just caught sight of the offending vehicle turning off down a dirt track. So I gave chase. As you do.  

I caught up with the driver, a young well-spoken man in horse-riding kit, just getting out of his car beside a house. I can’t say he looked particularly pleased to see me.  

‘Why are you here? Why are you here? he said all forcefully while stepping towards me. ‘What are you doing here?’  

‘I’m here,’ I said, ‘because I’m very happy I am here because I very nearly couldn’t be thanks to your driving!’  

The man didn’t get any friendier and denied having driven in any way which was dangerous.  

I asked him why then, if his driving was so lovely, did the other car coming directly towards him give him a huge blast of his horn?  

The man didn’t answer. He just said aggressively, ‘What do you want? What do you want?’  

What do I want? I thought. Does he mean for Christmas? Well that’s very nice of him, he obviously wants to make amends for his misdemeanours and buy me a consilitory Christmas present. Now let’s see, I thought, a new set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres would go down a treat – the 26 x 1.5’s please. There again I wouldn’t say no to a new Shimano UN72 bottom bracket with a 122.5mm chromoly axle to see me on my way. But then I thought what I want for Christmas is probably not what he had in mind. So I said with a hopeful tone, ‘An apology  would be nice!’  

Of course no apology came my way. He was too arrogant for that. Which I found rather amazing. Had he been on his horse on the road and I had driven past him too fast and his horse had reared up and nearly thrown him off , my immediate reaction would be to apologise and to ask if he was alright. Instead he stepped closer to me and half shouting said, ‘Get out of here! Get out of here! If you don’t leave I’m going to report you to the police for trespassing on my property!’  

‘Please do!’ I said. ‘And I’ll wait until they arrive and tell them why I’m here!’  

He looked a bit worried then. He also looked like he might take a swipe at me. So I thought it was probably time to make my retreat before I got myself into too sticky water. But not before I whipped out my camera and took a holiday snap (‘Smile!’) of him, his car and registration number.  

Had this man apologised or admitted he had done a bit of a bad move I would have probably left it at that. Instead he just couldn’t care less, I was a mere cyclist, an annoyance, a worthless piece of nothing. It was highly likely he would pass another cyclist equally as dangerously. As he might drive just as stupidly past me again, perhaps even when I had Molly and Daisy on board, I decided I would report him to the police. The police round here have been asking people to make roads safer for all by using Operation Crackdown to report instances of anti-social driving such as drink-driving, speeding, not wearing seat-belts and using mobile phones while driving. 

Anyway, the upshot was two days after reporting my incident to police I had a phone call from out local PCSO. I never thought I would get a response this fast. The driver had been tracked down but as he had just left the country to play polo in Argentina for the winter season there was nothing further the police could do. 

‘If he was still in this country what would you have done?’ I asked. 

The PCSO told me that under Section 59 they would have given him a warning. Should he have been reported by anyone again, then the police would retain his vehicle. 

Hearing the driver was now living on the other  side of the world was good news to me as it meant one less  bad driver on the roads around here. Though heaven help any Argentinian cyclist who should get in his way.