Whenever cycling in the UK is brought up there inevitably follows a long and tedious discussion about how cyclists are morons who disobey road laws and are a danger to everyone around them and about how they terrorize drivers and pedestrians alike.
I’m a pedestrian.
And, no they really, really don’t.
I own neither a car nor a bike. I don’t have a horse in this race. But let me tell you about today.
I went running this morning and had a warm up walk. I was probably out about an hour in total. In one hour, I was put in danger three times by irresponsible motorists. Drivers, who in charge of 1.5 tonnes of metal fast moving metal, had decided not to bother giving any special attention to trying to not run over pedestrians.
One person went through a junction while looking down at the phone in his hand. Despite wearing bright yellow I don’t think he was ever aware of my presence
One driver went around a blind bend too quickly (on a small quiet road with no footpath, where, realistically, you should be driving about 15mph tops)
And one person in a sports car, who when I was crossing the road, inexplicably accelerated towards me from a roundabout exit into a twenty mph zone. I made a mistake here in thinking that because the exit was blocked when I started crossing that it would be safe for me to get across. On the other hand, the guy accelerated towards me into a twenty zone. WTF. I have to take responsibility for my own safety and part of that includes assuming that drivers have the mental capacity of a three year old, but if I make the assumption that they are actively trying to kill me, I will never leave my house.
And I can’t count how many times I’ve been caught out by drivers who don’t know how to indicate. The worst thing is, even when they ARE indicating, you still can’t trust them to go in the same direction. Apparently many drivers think you should indicate RIGHT to exit a roundabout.
Many accusations are levelled at cyclists. That they run red lights is a common one. I use a particular crossing twice a day, and seeing a driver run the red light is a weekly occurrence. My favourite is when there is a traffic queue and they stop ON the crossing. I have to resist the urge to scratch their paintwork as I walk around them.
Another is that cyclists endanger pedestrians by riding on the pavement. Half of that is true; I do sometimes encounter cyclists on the pavement, maybe a few times a month. The other half, not so much. I have never in my life felt threatened by a cyclist.
I might give more credence to the anti cycling brigade if I didn’t suspect that it is made up of drivers whose main problem is that they are not intelligent or responsible or skilled enough to be safely handling their own car and a cyclist presents another problem for them.