20 August 2009

The Beaufort Scale of angry cyclists

The Beaufort Scale classifies the severity of storms. We're familiar with it in Britain from the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio 4, which wakes us up and sends us to sleep with its mystical incantations of South Utsire, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, three becoming four or five occasionally six, one thousand and seven, rising slowly, good. Whatever that means.

Well, it's about time the scale was adapted to describe the severity of cycle-driver confrontations. How serious was the incident this morning when you got cut up by a taxi and shouted at him? Well, with the scale below, now you know.

 BeaufortCycle-car confrontation Police action
0CalmNo noticeable reaction Nothing
1Light airSlightly extended eye contact Nothing
2Light breezeRaised eyebrows Nothing
3Gentle breezeGentle tutting Nothing
4Moderate breezeSotto voce comment Nothing
5Fresh breezeComment audible to other cyclists Nothing
6Strong breezeComment audible to driver Nothing
7Moderate galeSlight slowing-down in order to comment to driver. Some finger pointing to location of incident. Nothing
8GaleCycling alongside car at same speed to address driver. Shouted comments with mild profanity. Finger pointed at driver's head. Nothing
9Strong galeDismounting of cycle to shout loudly with regular profanities. Threats of legal action. Possible waving of fist. Exaggerated writing-down of number plate, cab licence number, bus route, etc. Nothing
10StormCycle leant against front of vehicle to impede its progress. Other cyclists join in and surround vehicle. General din of shouting voices and profuse swearing. Jostling of vehicle. Tutting of passers-by. Attempts to hand driver leaflet about global warming. Caution cyclists
11Violent stormVehicle immobilised and surrounded by large mob of angry cyclists. Mild but expensive damage sustained to car paintwork. Slight rocking of vehicle. Passers-by stop to take photos on mobile phone. Attempts to hand driver leaflet about joining London Cycle Campaign. Arrest cyclists
12HurricaneVehicle overturned, doused with petrol and torched. Driver lectured by cycling blogger at length on content of Highway Code Section 178 and the Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 36. Passers-by post pictures to Twitter. Mob of cyclists go on rampage through area, taking photographs of sub-standard cycle parking and handing out leaflets on forthcoming Farmer's Market and Cycle Friday scheme. Implement national crackdown on "all this dangerous pavement cycling"


  1. Nice one, that! I almost laughed my head off :)

  2. Bit of a contrast to yesterday's peace'n'love though. Knew it couldn't last.

  3. Excellent! The picture of the car has reminded me, I think you should have an extra section of the Real Cyclist test, about whether people have been left permanently marked. Tan lines 1 point, broken teeth 2 points, scars 5 points and broken bones 5 points or something like that. If you hit a car and manage to write it off while surviving yourself, you could possibly get bonus points?

  4. And how do you think the cars got on the pavements? By magic? They were driven on to them.