I’d just had a lovely afternoon in Covent Garden and was heading to the station via the zebra crossing. There was a car and bicycle a way off so I knew it was safe to cross … or so I thought! As I stepped out the bike sped up and suddenly the cyclist was on the zebra and next to me – ‘**** off!’ he screamed in my face. I was shocked and stumbled backwards. He seemed angry that I had even dared to cross the road when he was coming along, forget about the fact that he is supposed to stop for me on a zebra … There was nothing I could do as there is no ID on cycles, and within a flash he was gone. Not all cyclists are like that of course but I’ve had quite a few similar experiences over the years and I NEVER trust them to obey the stop signs at lights, always waiting for them to drift past before I attempt crossing.
There does seem to be some sort of elitism among cyclists I have to say, and I’m sure many of us are aware of it. As if they have the higher moral ground because cycles are pollution free. But yet although they use the same road space as us many seem to think road rules do not apply to them, even though they are there to protect all of us. Two things I learnt during driving lessons – drive defensively and always obey the rules – has served me well. But I guess unfortunately there is no Highway Code or driving test for cyclists – only for the poor old car drivers who are also meant to navigate around ever increasing numbers of cyclists as well as horrendous traffic, speed cameras, road signs, road works, pedestrians and so on. And I read more and more stories of cyclists using cameras to photograph motorists getting irate or doing benign things such as eating at the wheel, often because some cyclists have a hatred of motorists and want to get them fined. Quite scary really. With the heatwave I’ve been sipping water at the wheel quite a lot and find myself looking around to see if a cyclist is spying on me!
I was listening to the radio when the host mentioned he had been taped discussing cyclists. Someone had cut the tape so it sounded as if he was just complaining about them and posted it on YouTube. It received over a million hits and he then received a non-stop stream of abuse from cyclists via social media, which shocked him. He described it as ‘cycling evangelism’, and in a way it is. So many seem to feel they are untouchable – rules do not apply to them but if the car driver or pedestrian steps out of line or gets annoyed we must be reported, abused and punished, their hidden cameras used as a weapon.
It’s unfathomable that there are no provisions to make cyclists more responsible. I know they don’t pay road tax because apparently this is no longer spent on the roads (!) (it goes straight to the treasury) and it is calculated on vehicle emissions, but I do feel that it would be fairer if cyclists paid something for the privilege of using the roads, especially when you think of the fantastical amounts now spent on creating cycle lanes (I recently misread the traffic signs at London Bridge and stepped out onto the cycle lane – the speed, aggressiveness and power of the bikes around me was terrifying!).
Cyclists are more vulnerable than cars of course, and most motorists go out of our way to give them space, but they don’t always give this respect in turn to pedestrians who are even more vulnerable. Cycle lanes were meant to solve a lot of the problem but now it seems many cyclists do not use them as they deem them ‘not wide enough’ or ‘full of litter’ or ‘too slow’…! We have to find a way to keep them safe but some respect should come back the other way. I notice at the seaside or various heaths and large parks that cyclists blatantly ignore any ‘No cycling’ signs – perhaps feeling it is their inalienable right to go where they choose, thereby endangering very young and older walkers. In fact I had a recent heated discussion with one who insisted he ‘can go wherever he likes’. It seems to be part of the whole ‘I must have whatever I want’ era we are now in.
Sadiq Khan has said that TFL will be spending £140 million on NEW cycle lanes in London. Many feel this is not justified. The roads are already congested and this will slow them down even more. Plus the COST. Where will TFL take this money from? You can be sure that the state of our roads will not be improved while this money is being diverted to cycle lanes or the even more expensive cycle superhighways as budgets for roads and improvement plans have been cut back drastically. It wont stop there – he is planning to spend similar amounts over the next five years. Where is all this actually heading? I have one small car that I use at weekends and pay through the nose for, but feel I am being squeezed off the roads.
So, how about a driving test for cyclists? Or some sort of compulsory insurance for any damage THEY may cause? Or – one of my favourites – a vehicle registration number system for bicycles? I’m not sure how practical or cost-effective these ideas might be but even if one of them was implemented it might help to control the behaviour of our more aggressive cyclists and make us feel less resentful.
Either way, I think its time to put the brakes on the super cycling elite or make them cough up.