Why do we tolerate it?

The Independant today started a campaign entitled “Save our cyclists”. On the front cover they had 20 pictures. Those 20 people are no longer alive as they have been killed over the last 18 months whilst on their bikes. Yet this seems to be “accepted”. After all they chose to cycle around and everyone knows how dangerous that is…..

Whilst there are now regulations coming into force that mean that lorries will be required to have additional mirrors and sensors to detect cyclists who venture into their blindspots, I can’t help but think if those 20 people had been in cars and died as a result of collisions with lorries the laws would have been changed in a matter of months……as it stands the current EU safety legislation won’t come into force until 2013. Better late then never I guess except that is still going to be a bit too late for the next cyclist that finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time between now and then.

Reading through their article I was gobsmacked to read that a bus driver was cleared of killing a cyclist through dangerous driving as according to “expert” evidence her view could have been obscured by cab fittings? Surely this must be a joke?? Aren’t these people professional drivers? They are entrusted with very large and heavy vehicles that operate on both extremely busy roads and residential streets. They are trusted to carry members of the public, yet I have encountered a few who seem to put ensuring their bus is running on time ahead of the safety of other road users. Overtaking cyclists just so they can pull into a bus stop or plain ignoring pedestrians on zebra crossings. This behavior isn’t limited to bus drivers though, other road users also show a similar dis-regard for the safety of those of us on two wheels.

But why do they do it? Pent up frustration? Maybe they think it’s funny to terrify people? Maybe they are just a bully (it’s amazing how much confidence 1 1/2 tons of metal cage can give someone) or it could just be through ignorance. Most will probably tell you that cyclist shouldn’t be on the roads. Understandable really as cars where clearly around a long time before bikes……and it’s not like us free-loading cyclist pay anything towards the upkeep of the roads that those cars, vans and HGV’s are constantly pounding. I mean I’m sure I cause an awful lot of wear, with a fully loaded bag I reckon me, my bag and bike must easily weigh about 85kg 🙂

But then all cyclists are lawless idiots aren’t we so surely we deserve the abuse? Clearly I must be seeing things when I pull up at a set of lights in London and have 10-15 other riders around me and 5-10 riders carry on through the red light. I personally find it a bit difficult to judge the true amount of red light jumping cyclists as I often find I see the same ones at each set of lights (get the hint here RLJer’s IT ISN’T QUICKER…..). It may also surprise some other road users and pedestrians that those of us that do stop for red lights and do our best to obey the traffic laws tend to get quite annoyed by the riders who don’t follow the rules. Annoyingly getting some of them to change their ways is like trying to get blood from a stone. For me the worst part is that their bad actions tend to mean the rest of us get tarred with the same brush. Just the other day I was heading down Charring Cross Road when a older lady was crossing on a zebra with her mother (I think!), I had seen them over the cars so started to slow down to let them finish crossing. Now I know this could be a natural reaction from the pair but it genuinely looked like they where expecting me to race on past them assuming I hadn’t seen them or I’m just plain ignoring them. After all cyclist don’t pay attention to the laws of the road – shouldn’t I have just raced between the two of them? Possibly scattered the pair of them like skittles for good effect? No. I’m a road user, therefore I play by the same rules as any other road user. The fact that I’m on two wheels and not four and that I’m powered by my legs rather then petrol doesn’t mean I’m any different. Yes I can filter into some smaller gaps and don’t get held up that often but I’ll still stop for pedestrians and red lights, after all I’ve got plenty of time to spare 🙂

So why can’t we all just get along? I mean I’m pretty sure no one is out in a car or on a bus during the rush hour for fun (unlike me on my bike :-)). We are all just trying to get somewhere so why can’t we just show each other some respect? All I ask for is a bit of space. If that means I delay you taking a corner by a few seconds I am really sorry. Can’t wait a few more seconds to join the back of the next traffic jam? Ah diddums, just drive patiently along behind me – I can do a reasonable speed if given some room and once we get to the back of the queue I’ll disappear up the road and you can sit there and stare at the vehicle in front. All the while thinking “Bloody cyclists holding me up”…….

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