When will people realise our roads don't just exist to get from A to B?

Mark Armstrong running

A runner out and enjoying Norfolk's wonderful countryside - Credit: Alison Armstrong

Now I'm certainly not the best driver around (my wife and children can attest to that), however there's no way I'd consciously do something behind the wheel to put others at risk.

However, I believe that's what happened to me two Sundays ago while out for a late afternoon run in the south Norfolk countryside.

Up to that point it had been a pleasant, but pretty unremarkable run, until a very near miss with a fellow road user.

As I plodded along a quiet countryside road, for the record halfway up a long straight, facing oncoming traffic and being careful to keep to the side, I suddenly became very aware of the BMW coming towards me.

Not only did it appear to be travelling very fast (this was a 60mph zone but of course that doesn't mean you HAVE to drive at 60mph), but the vehicle was very quickly coming very close to me.

At what seemed like the very last moment, the driver, who I could see was furiously waving his arms at me, swerved across to the other side of the road and then back again.

By this time I'd already retreated onto the bank and stopped my run to watch the car disappear in a puff of dust caused by the driver's rapid movements.

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I stopped my run to compose myself, whilst a very friendly lady, who had been driving in the opposite direction and witnessed it all, stopped, wound down her window and checked that I was okay.

In the two miles home and the subsequent hours that followed I went through that incident in my head numerous times.

What had made the driver so angry? Had I done something wrong? Was I visible enough? Had he (for it was a he) been blinded by the lowering sun?

Each time I had no answers. It had been on a long straight, I was following the Highways Code and I even had a hi-viz on just in case the darkness had descended.

If the sun had caused a problem, then why was he driving in such a way? Why didn't he slow accordingly? What if I'd have been a horse rider and the same thing had happened?

I came to two possible conclusions. The first that he had not been driving to the conditions or the location. He was out in the countryside on a Sunday afternoon thinking he could drive at whatever speed he chose. He saw me too late and had to make an adjustment.

The second, and much more sinister possibility, was that he did see me all along. And that the reason he was waving his arms about angrily was that he had no belief I had just as much right to be on the road as he did.

Perhaps he deliberately drove so close to me to make a point. And it's that bit which still angers me now.

The battle between those who use our roads is not a new one. In general the view of many still seems to be that roads are only there as an aid to get from A to B and anyone using them for any other purpose, shouldn't be.

Woe betide, therefore, the runner, cyclist, horse rider or anyone else using the roads and causing even the slightest of inconvenience to this group of people.

If this is how people think, they need to somehow get over themselves. Get used to the fact that all manner of people use our roads, for all manner of reasons. 

During lockdown, being able to get out and about on foot or bike was one of the few pleasures available. And as we emerge from covid it's likely activities will remain more popular than ever before.

So my message to that driver - or others who find themselves as equally angry by the sight of non-motorists on the roads - is to find a way to get used to it.

It isn't all about you.