Alex messaged me with the following and he gave me permission to publish it here. It is unedited (written on his phone). It is shocking. It is utterly depressing. It is demoralising. It should not be this way.
Hi Adam. I hope you’re well. I wanted to get in touch again potentially offering a bit of assistance. If you remember, I live in Timsbury, work in Bristol and used to cycle every day of the week. My partner works in Bath usually doing the same.
Just recently I’ve had some rather horrific experiences using the lanes around Saltford commuting to and from work. I chose to use the lanes to avoid using major roads reducing my likelihood of contact with dangerous vehicle drivers and to access the Bristol to Bath cycle path as quickly as possible. Doing this added 5 additional miles to my journey in both directions to and from work.
Recently though, the lanes have become much busier with vehicles and the frequency of me being literally driven at by cars coming the other way or cars wanting to pass at inappropriate times has increased.
It got to the point a few weeks ago where I was getting driven at multiple times on a ride and the fear for my life overrode the fact that I wanted to cycle to help reduce congestion, keep healthy, save money and minimise my carbon footprint.
I bought a car and now my partner and I both drive to Saltford – the first 6 miles of our journey – and then cycle to our respective cities using the only dedicated cycle route available. This obviously makes us sad – it isn’t much quicker and goes against everything we have been trying to achieve by cycling.
On the particular day I deceived that enough was enough, I phone the police to ask them what I should do – or what I could do – when faced with a motorist driving at me. They basically said that there’s nothing I can do and nothing they can do beyond reporting it using their online reporting function. I have done this multiple times but don’t really feel it works – it does give out punitive measures to the specific motorists that offend but doesn’t provide any educational structures to those that are potentially going to offend or ones that aren’t caught. I felt entirely powerless and truest vulnerable.
I also felt let down by the lack of provisions for cyclise – as you’ll remember trying to fight for a cycle lane along the Marksbury dual carriageway. Interestingly the road where the pivotal incident occurred is a national cycle route heading out of Saltford past the golf course.
As a bit of context when faced with a vehicle driving towards me on a lane I stop and hope that they’ll do the same – just as you would if you were faced with another vehicle. This does force the car to stop sometimes, handing the control of my life back into my hands but frequently they’ll just squeeze past – I’ve even had people swerve and accelerate towards me. A harrowing affair.
Anyway, my point of contacting you is that I am happy to provide first hand accounts or evidence in any type of witness-based reports you might be making to the authorities as evidence of a failure of provision or proper infrastructure, policing and education.
Please excuse any typing errors – I wrote this on my phone!