All entries for Monday 16 January 2006

January 16, 2006

Cycling etiquette

Writing about Times journo – what a clown! from George Riches: Complaints from a middle aged layabout

Having followed the recent debate on George's blog, as a keen cyclist I feel spurred to make some contribution.

As a driver, I get completely fed up with irresponsible cyclists: those who ride on the pavement, jump traffic lights, and change lanes without signalling, for example. As a cyclist who always follows the Highway Code, I donít see why other cyclists feel like they have a right to persist in such an unhelpful, and sometimes illegal, manner. I learnt everything I needed to know from my cycling proficiency test, so why canít everyone else? I also resent the fact that motorists often treat me badly on the road as a result of their preconceptions about cyclists which I feel I do my best to dissipate by being a responsible road user.

However, although there is no excuse for breaking the law, I do have some sympathy for cyclists worried about being knocked over. I have been involved in several near-misses caused by unobservant (or just plain reckless) car drivers. If I was of a more nervous disposition I may well have migrated towards the pavement before now. The roads are a dangerous place for cyclists, made more difficult by a lack of cycle lanes or, where they are present, a complete disregard of them by motorists.

Itís quite a chicken-and-egg problem. Bad cyclists make motorists resentful and less accommodating. But irresponsible drivers reduce cyclistís confidence. Some might argue that as the more powerful and less vulnerable road-user, motorists should be more responsible than they currently seem to be, irrespective of the behaviour of the cyclist. Many would argue that making the roads safer for cyclists is not economically sound as there are so few of us. But equally would cycling increase enough as a result to justify the money and effort?
So what can we do about it???

A little storyÖ
Justin was driving his car out of his drive, when, before he could see past his gatepost, a cyclist using the pavement ran into him, leaving the car with a dent in the side. Ironically, as a result of the impact the cyclist fell off his bike and into the road: the one place he was presumably avoiding!

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