Far North cyclist calls for driver education programme after scary overtaking manoeuvre in which she was 'almost killed'
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A young Far North cyclist said she was "almost killed" when a car overtook her on a blind summit on the A836 at Murkle.
Twenty-four-year-old Elinor Spencer, of Reay, has lost her trust in drivers after experiencing two near misses on local roads in less than a week.
In the first incident she was pushed off her bike on the outskirts of Thurso by a person in a passing car.
The marine biology student was cycling along the Mount Pleasant single-track road at the time and had indicated to the driver of the car that she would pull into a nearby lay-by. However, she said the driver revved the engine and passed so close that the passenger was able to reach out of their open window and push her off her bike.
After the second incident, which happened on a "no overtaking" stretch of road at Murkle, Elinor took to social media to highlight the seriousness of the issue.
She said the driver had overtaken her at solid, double white lines on a blind summit while an oncoming car was approaching.
Elinor, who lives near Reay, explained: "The driver did not even pass into the opposite lane when overtaking – they stayed completely in my lane, pushing me right into the verge when I was cycling at 30mph. Had it not been for some fast reactions and bike skills, I would have been killed.
"If I didn't move they would have been into the back of me. I was going really fast at the time – I had to slam my brakes on as well.
"I think that was the scariest thing because I was going fast and they were going fast."
She reported the incident to the police but did not have enough evidence for anything to be done as she did not get a chance to observe the numberplate of the vehicle, which she believed to be a white BMW hatchback.
Elinor is an experienced cyclist and was a member of a race team in Edinburgh where she goes to university and is also on the Scottish cycling development programme.
"A big part of training isdone on the road and it just seems it's not worth it if I do not come home one day because of one person's bad driving," she said.
"Cycling is so beneficial for health and climate, but people are being put off by dangerous driving.
"It is not something I expect up here – the community is quite friendly."
Elinor explained that she had learned to be resilient after cycling in the south and had not had any problems on the roads in Caithness until now.
As a result she is calling for more to be done about road safety and feels drivers should take part in some sort of education programme.
Elinor, who has been left shaken by the incidents, has decided her only option is to invest in rear and front cameras to use while she is out on her bike in future.