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Cycling vs Driving Lament: It’s Not Getting Better

As a motorist and car owner I am acutely aware of all the possible infractions that a driver can be had up in front of The Beak for. Also, traps abound: near to me, just around a blind corner, what appears to be a local urban road suddenly turns into a ‘bus only’ lane for a distance of about one hundred metres. The signage is low and often obscured by parked cars. Locals are aware of this piece of council vindictiveness but strangers are not. A couple of the good chaps who bring press vehicles to me, including the poor innocent who brought me the Ford Fiesta (here), have fallen foul recently.

We, the Drivers

There are plenty of rules or laws that make sense. The illegal use, by cretins, of mobiles phones whilst on the move is a prime example. We see examples of poor or plainly bad or dangerous driving every day, often with tragic outcomes. Car accidents are at a five year high so although sometimes drivers feel justifiably persecuted, there are good reasons for enforcing the law. As a driver, I try to make sure that I’m always at the top of my game.

We, The Cyclists

I also ride a bike and have ridden on road and trails for many years. I am abundantly aware of the hazards of cycling, particularly when it comes to cars and especially these days when the roads are jam-packed. I have been cut up many times and once, sent flying. There is no excuse for careless driving when around vulnerable road users. None. That’s why what is left of the police force in Suffolk have been trialling a scheme whereby motorists are penalised for not giving bike riders enough space when overtaking or when turning left in front of them. Fair enough. Mind you, the cops are taking the opportunity to give offending cars the once-over too; that’s another story.

But There’s Another Side To This…

Nowhere in this ‘Close Pass’ scheme is there any mention of the way the cyclists are riding and there are some cyclists who abuse this horribly, giving the rest a bad name. I have written about this other side of the coin before and received abuse accordingly; not reasoned argument you understand, abuse. That’s the nature of this country today, sickeningly.

Now, cycling on the pavement remains illegal. Under the 1835 Highways Act bike riders can be penalised for so doing. They’re not, obviously, the police can’t be bothered which is why many of us feel helpless when, as pedestrians, we get buzzed on our paths without warning – not so much as a bell – by thoughtless bike riders. Cyclists can do no wrong it seems. I can understand why people ride on pavements, especially near busy roads, but it isn’t a right and thus respect should be shown to all other road users.

Certainly cycling is a healthy form of transport and I’m all for it but what about that odious little creep recently jailed for what should have been called manslaughter? What about this piece of scum HERE? That’s what needs sorting.

Cyclists Need More Protection. Fact.

Of course they do. First though there needs to be a close look taken at the riding habits of some. Until such time as these people are censured in the same way drivers are then the two sides can never happily co-exist.

Nanny State’s answer is of course to penalise drivers (a great fund raiser) when the real solution is to provide bike users with their own car-free routes. Of course that’s easy to say; it must be extremely difficult in this country with our dated, knackered infrastructure but, unlike say, Denmark or Holland, there’s never been any serious attempt so to do, ever. Our authorities pay lip service to this subject with half-baked ideas like turning off traffic lights in cities to ridiculous, often ludicrously short, so-called cycle lanes, yet new roads get built without the addition of cycle-friendly side lanes or other alternatives. Too expensive, see? What price lives? Why are we incapable of solving this?

Geoff Maxted