Lights, cameras, cycle…..

Cycling in Copenhagen

“The trouble with these bloody cyclists is that none of them have any lights, they all jump red lights, they are a law unto themselves. I had one the other day, he went straight through my right of way. Did he thank me? Did he f@$*!…….”

I’ve just been up to Asda in the Old Kent Road. It’s not quite Fortnum and Mason but it’s not that bad. On the way there, a motorist turned right, straight through my right of way. Unusually, I hadn’t spotted him early and it did take me by surprise. I braked hard but I like to cycle with lots of contingency space. If a cyclist had done that to him, no doubt there would be a long hoot on the horn and some expletives shouted from the driver’s side window.

The cliche is that cyclists never obey the rules of the road and motorists are perfect. The reality is very different. Sure, there are some very good motorists out there, and if you are one, I can’t thank you enough – seriously. When you give way to me, I’m really touched at your courtesy. But when motorists drive badly, they seem to forget that in a collision, your car may end up with a small scratch on it at worst, whilst a cyclist may end up dead or seriously injured in the road.  Think of it this way. If a pedestrian was crossing the road without looking, would you accelerate fast to try to get past before he crosses, or would you slow down and wait? I know which choice I would make.

I don’t wish to shock you, and I hope you are sitting down,  but I hold a driving licence. I have held my licence for 17 years, no points. I have driven in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal and Sicily. I do not own a car in London because there is no point (other drivers take note – this is a choice decision). I am probably more experienced as a motorist than many of the drivers who hurl abuse or hoot their horn at me whilst I cycle round London perfectly legally.

In the Highway Code, it states that drivers should leave at least 6 foot between their vehicle and cyclist as they pass. Whilst I realise that this may be difficult, or impossible, in most parts of London, leaving 3 foot should be possible. It is not appreciated when you pass me and leave 2 inches between your left side wing mirror and my handlebars. Drivers do not seem to understand the consequences of this. If you clip my handlebars, I will fall very badly. When you guys wake up and start obeying the rules yourselves, then I’ll start listening to your complaints about cyclists.

There was a study in Australia which looked at adherence to the rules of the road by both motorists and cyclists. It was found that motorists obeyed the rules 85% of the time. But cyclists stuck to the rules 95% of the time.

There also seems to be a widely held belief that “Cyclists ride a bike because they cannot afford to buy a car”. This is the biggest load of bullshit that has ever been  propagated. Many cyclists do own a car.  And that’s just the beginning of the debate on this one.

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