Over the summer, in common with a lot of Britain, I’ve got more and more interested in cycling. Maybe it’s the Olympics, maybe it was Bradley Wiggins’ success in the Tour de France, or maybe it’s just that a lot of my friends from the running club are also cyclists. Regardless, that’s meant that I’ve started reading more cycling magazines, listening to cycling podcasts, etc. and it strikes me that there’s a very “them and us” view with cyclists against the world.
I tend to walk rather than take the tube in London and, as a pedestrian, I regularly have skirmishes with cyclists who don’t feel the need to stop at zebra crossings. I know the argument about lost momentum but I’m afraid that’s no excuse. Imagine if a car driver used the same excuse (considering the environmental impacts of stop/start in urban areas)… it’s no reason to ignore crossings, stop lights, etc. and the argument just doesn’t stack up.
Then, last Thursday, in Guildford, I was driving at night and I (only just) spotted a cyclist coming towards me a hundred metres or so away on a road I was just about to pull out onto. I stopped and waited but, as he passed me, the cyclist abuse me with a four letter word. Perhaps I would have seen him sooner if he had proper lights – instead, he had a flashing green light on the front of his bike (and no white light)! As it happens, I probably had time to pull out anyway, but flashing lights make it difficult to judge distance and speed so I played it safe, avoiding a potential collision between 2.2 tonnes of car and 100 kilos of vulnerable cyclist, yet resulting in abuse because I was a metre over the give way line…
Today, I was a cyclist, on an organised ride in Epping Forest. I slowed down on a number of occasions to be considerate to horse riders, families with small children, and dog walkers but it was amazing how many people seem to think it’s fine to wonder aimlessly across a wide track or to stop in the middle of a path. On one occasion I was riding along a track and met a dog walker coming the other way, with two dogs, a small one dashing around and a large one, lumbering along. I slowed to a walking pace but he did nothing to call his dogs to safety. Then, as I passed the large dog, it moved suddenly, I slammed on my brakes, and my pedals left a nasty gash on the back of my leg. The result: in order to avoid inflicting injury on a dog, I injured myself instead… great.
Pedestrian, equestrian, cyclist or motorist, it really shouldn’t matter. We all need to share roads, paths, etc. and co-exist, so how about a little consideration for others? Is that really too much to ask, or are we all just too caught up in our own worlds?