Flow like water

Having read a blog post recently (can’t remember the exact article….) from a cyclist who claimed he didn’t like to be called part of traffic as he was able to move (at least during the rush hour) at a much higher pace then the motorised traffic it got me thinking of how best I could convey this myself.

I personally don’t mind being called “traffic”, I am a road user and on occasions when the motorised traffic is particularly heavy I am left at a standstill. I take pride in my filtering ability, something which I’ve had plenty of chance to build up with over 4 years of riding in central London, but there are occasions where I just can’t safely fit through any gap. In these cases I’ll wait patiently for a safe gap then get on my way, jobs a goodun!

Then it struck me the other night as I was nipping between the slower moving cars and trucks on The Highway heading towards Tower Bridge, I’m (or the collective “we” for most cyclists in fact) are more like water flowing round rocks. It’s just in this case though the rocks are actually big metal boxes and they can roll forwards themselves. We don’t tend to hold up the traffic, in fact I think my journey times would improve greatly if I woke up tomorrow and all the motorised traffic had been removed from the roads! I often find myself having to ease off as I get stuck behind a slow moving motorists due to the sheer volume of traffic 🙂

Take this evening for example, I pulled up alongside one particular company van on Albany Road as I waited to turn onto Camberwell Road. I didn’t think much of it at the time until I caught up with and eventually overtook the same van on Streatham High Road, some 4-5 miles later 🙂

So for my motorised brethren who think bikes are slow…..just remember we can go with the flow, all whilst you are staring at the rear window of that vehicle in front 😀 Maybe one day you’ll make the change, stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution.

This also brings me to another point

Can we improve the driving license?

I was muling over some ideas in my head whilst doing the dishes this evening if there was any way to get drivers to understand why they have a duty to drive responsibly on the roads?

Having watched the bad drivers program on channel 5 over the last few weeks I’ve started to spot a theme with the really dangerous drivers – the ones who speed, use their phone, eat at the wheel etc. They all come out with something along the lines of “I know I should slow down/not use my phone but….” It’s as if they don’t seem to grasp the responsibility they bear when they are in charge of 1 or 2 tons of metal capable of high speeds on public roads. Roads that are used by other responsible motor vehicle drivers, cyclists, pedestrians et al.

Part of my musings reminded me of the restrictions imposed on motorcyclsts which are summed up nicely here

As you can see it’s very specific and limits the rider to a certain engine size and power when they start out, unless they can take the relevant tests and training to prove they are capable of handling the larger bikes.

I’ve had a look to see if there is something similar for the driving license and guess what? There doesn’t appear to be any restrictions bar vehicle weight! But why is this?

Could it be to protect the driver/rider? After all if someone who has just passed their test has an accident it’s generally going to be the motorcyclist that comes off worst of the two. The driver at least has a metal box to cushion their lack of experience….

So why don’t we have a similar scheme for car drivers? I mean at the moment I’d imagine the biggest barrier to a new driver getting a high powered sports car is insurance but then if you have enough cash to throw around (or a disregard for the law, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish….) then in theory it’s doable. Here’s the keys to your new Ferrari Mr New Driver 🙂

Another idea I considered was making bicycle training part of driver training. It may help them realize how vulnerable cyclists are and could possibly (I know it’s a long shot!) change their attitudes towards them on the road. Also maybe if they understood the “mechanics” of using a bike in traffic they’d also realize that cyclists generally don’t hold up drivers! Yes you may have to wait a few seconds until it’s safe to pass or not arrive at the back of the next queue for another 10 seconds but is getting past the rider ahead really worth risking potentially seriously injuring another road user for? Relax, your blood pressure and wallet will thank you 🙂 Better yet, get on a bike and become part of the solution and not part of the problem (to traffic jams that is!)

Now I have no idea how any of this could be implemented or if it’s even feasible. In an ideal world it would be impossible to drive without a valid license and insurance, which in turn could be used to restrict which cars you are able to drive.

I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to enforcement. Laws and regulations are only as good as the enforcement used to back them up and unfortunately there is far too little where unlicensed and uninsured drivers are concerned which in turns means having neither of these isn’t really a deterrent to some people, so for my suggestions of restricting drivers to certain vehicles I think it is actually the attitudes of road users that  need to change rather then the system that governs them.