Apologies for the slightly negative posts recently. There are just a few niggling feelings I need to brush off before I head outa here.
First I should say that, admittedly, some cyclists let the side down, sure. There are bad eggs in every basket/group of people. But pedestrians and car owners tend to generalise us all into the category of irresponsible cyclists and they’re the ones making it dangerous to cycle on the roads by assuming the worst.
I’d just like to point out that people who own bikes instead of cars/people who make the effort to cycle more than drive are, if anything, the far more responsible ones. Especially in the big cities, cars are pretty much unnecessary; everything is within cycling distance and there are multiple forms of regular public transport for those places that are a little out of reach, and for those who are unable to ride a bike for medical reasons. Public transport also works out cheaper than driving, even if you are commuting to work every day. Cyclists are much more responsible for their health and well-being and also for the environment.
And yet we are constantly being shunned. There was an article in the Metro recently about a boy who hit a woman on his bike, to the fault of both parties. However, of course it was the cyclist who was made out to be the villain. Everyone needs a villain; Donald Trump…Hillary Clinton…David Cameron… Before it was woman drivers, now, in a world where sexism is more commonly picked up on, the public have turned to cyclists.
In the article, Alliston says that both of their heads collided and he could have easily been the one with fatal injuries. In fact nowhere in the article does it mention any injuries the cyclist suffered, just that he was knocked over. Alliston also says ‘It is a pretty serious incident so I won’t bother saying oh she deserved it, it’s her fault. Yes it is her fault but no she did not deserve it.’ — Which I think sums up the incident in a far more neutral, less fear mongering way. And yes, I do think he is right. He was definitely in the wrong for riding a bike with no brakes, however the woman is equally at fault by ignoring both of his warnings and assuming the cyclist would avoid her; if you’re a cyclist you’ll probably know that pedestrians commonly assume the responsibility is yours and they could not possibly be at fault if you do hit them. The judge is clearly not a cyclist.
Alliston also says ‘It’s not my fault people either think they are invincible or have zero respect for cyclists.’ — This is the part that stuck with me most. Both pedestrians and drivers disregard cyclists on the roads every single day. It’s articles like this that manifest fear of cyclists, and this is just as dangerous as simply disregarding our place on the roads. Cars that hesitate when you’re waiting patiently behind them, or those that overtake too far out to avoid you, make it dangerous; if you’re not a confident driver things can easily go wrong.
Every time I have been out on my bike in the city there has been a case of unjustified disrespect, and I say that with utter confidence. Twice this month busses have pulled out and pushed me into oncoming traffic (and of course the people in those cars scold me), cars that drive along cycle lanes even when the road, which is made to be wide enough for vehicles from both directions AND bicycles, is otherwise empty. I have seen countless cars attempt to overtake straight into oncoming traffic. I have seen cars waiting in the cyclist area at traffic lights, just yesterday this happened and as I arrived the driver edged forwards until he was actually in the crossing so that I couldn’t wait in front. These marked off areas are for the safety of everyone; it is dangerous for a cyclist to be stuck in moving traffic, and should be able to wait ahead of cars at traffic lights so as not to get in the way when the lights go green and everyone rushes forward. Road laws, and markings, are there for a reason.
I have seen skips, vans and delivery lorries parked in cycle lanes forcing cyclists to ride in busy roads. I’ve seen pedestrians walking in cycle lanes instead of the adjacent pavements, and even mothers pushing their buggies along cycle lanes. Honestly, you might as well push your child over the curb and make them walk in the road.
Cyclists (should) take the responsibility to read the highway code for both themselves and rules for cars, because we are generally the ones in danger. The least drivers can do is the same; be aware of the rules for cyclists and how to interact with them on the roads. And for Gods sake if you see a ‘no-pedestrian’ or ‘cycle only’ sign and you’re not on a bike, stay out of the way; for everyone’s safety.