Friday, 23 November 2012

Cyclists: A Pedestrian’s Point Of View

Ever since Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins was knocked off his bike recently there has been a lot of talk in the UK of how to keep cyclists safe.

Now I do have a driving licence but I tend to be a pedestrian (or a passenger) more often than a driver. When driving and I approach a cyclist I become very cautious as though they might suddenly veer inexplicably in to my path. Given that I have approached junctions before and cyclists have pulled straight across in front of me without even looking.

But I’ve had more experience with cyclists as a pedestrian. And I thought I’d share some of my war stories with you – mainly things I’ve seen.

Now I’m sure that Mr Wiggins and a great many cyclists are actually very good road users. I’m sure they all wear helmets, have working lights, follow the rules of the road etc.

But there are some of you out there who do not. You know who you are. Yes I do mean you.

I’ve seen cyclists going the wrong way down one way streets. Speeding through pedestrianised areas. Speeding along with one or sometimes both hands in their pockets – it’s a bike - it is controlled by you but not telekinetically! I’ve seen them going down alleys (or ginnels or snickets or snickelways - whatever you want to call them*) when there is a perfectly visible sign telling them not to go down there on their bikes.
Riding of pedal cycles prohibited

The round white sign with a red ring around it and a picture of a bike means 'riding of pedal cycles prohibited'. That means either get off the bike and walk or go another way round.

One of my pet hates is the cyclist who approaches a lights controlled crossing that are on red (so we pedestrians can cross ‘safely’), and decide they are suddenly a bike-human hybrid. They go up on to the pavement over the crossing and then back on to the road.

My most physical experience with a cyclist was when I was at university. It was dark and I was walking on the pavement. As I turned the corner there was a bike coming towards me, also on the pavement.

I panicked. I was like a deer caught in headlights. Only I wasn’t because he had no lights for me to be caught in. He definitely saw me because he spoke to me. But he didn’t really slow down until he was about to hit me. He ran over my foot and the only reason he didn’t flatten me was because I put my hands out and put them on his handlebars to stop him.

As he then cycled away (after not asking me if I was alright) I was told that I had a ‘bloody cheek’ (he thought I was being rude not that I was injured).

It was hours later that I realised I should have pointed out the errors of his ways – no lights, cycling on the pavement – he didn’t even have a helmet on.

I appreciate that the roads are scary places and that drivers don’t always look out for you – but that doesn’t mean to say you should invade the pavement and act as though the pedestrians shouldn’t be there. The Highway Code applies to you too you know.

Although pedestrians can be just as bad sometimes.

I think everyone needs teaching how to look out for each other – not just drivers but everyone.

Maybe there should be sections in the Highway Code – How To Deal With: 1. Idiots In Vehicles (a) Pedestrians (b) Cyclists, 2. Idiots On Bikes (a) Drivers (b) Pedestrians, 3. Idiots On Foot (a) Drivers (b) Cyclists.

It probably wouldn’t help though…

Here endeth the rant!

*I personally tend to say ginnel and occasionally snicket

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