Cyclists versus drivers is a battle that has long raged on the roads of Britain; with each blaming the other for causing danger on the roads. No-one knows when and where it started, but what are the arguments all about?
“Cyclists have no right to use the road, they don’t pay road tax.”
Well that’s not exactly true. Many cyclists (including myself) are also car drivers, so although I may often leave my car in the garage I still have to pay tax every year.
“Cyclists ignore traffic lights and one-way streets.”
It is a fact that many irresponsible riders do deliberately ride past red lights and no-entry signs. That’s not to say that drivers are not also guilty of these misdemeanours. I doubt that any driver with an ounce of common sense would knowingly drive the wrong way down a one-way street. But many times have I witnessed them driving through stop lights.
“Riders don’t look where they’re going when pulling out and changing lanes.”
This is certainly true of many cyclists. As a driver I have had to take action many times to make allowances for someone who would otherwise have swung dangerously into my path. On the other hand, when riding my bike, I have lost count of the number of drivers who have almost ran into me by changing position without using their mirrors properly.
“Riders don’t use lights at night.”
There can be no arguing with this one. As a driver, I’m acutely aware of how difficult cyclists can be to spot at night; especially if they’re also wearing dark clothing. I would never dream of riding without lights at night, I’d rather get off and walk if my bulbs failed. I am certain that those who think it okay to ride unlit can never have been behind the wheel of a car themselves; otherwise they would surely be aware of the risk.
“Cyclists ride on the pavement.”
This is a simple fact; it’s also one of my pet hates. Riding on the footpath is illegal, but it’s a commonplace sight. Some riders complain that the roads are too busy and they’re worried about the traffic. Whilst this is true, and it does now sometimes put me off riding to work; the answer is to use another form of transport or get off and walk. Putting pedestrians at risk by weaving around them on the footpath is simply not acceptable.
As a rider and driver, I am normally neutral in the war between these commuters. There as many bad drivers as there are cyclists. I guess the only difference is that the rider is only likely to get themselves killed rather than someone else when they behave irresponsibly.
Lack of Control
There are two things however that I have noticed more and more recently. Firstly it’s the number of cyclists who speed along without holding the handle bars. All it needs is a pothole or someone to step in front them and an accident is unavoidable.
Secondly, it’s riding along using a mobile phone. Or even worse, using a mobile with no grip at all on the handlebars.
It is against the law for drivers to hold a phone while driving, but why doesn’t this law also apply to bike riders; surely the police should also be able to prosecute them?
I have a window view of a busy road as I write this article, and in the time spent on this task I have seen:
- 15 cyclists passing on the road
- 56 cyclists riding on the footpath
- 6 talking on a mobile phone while riding
- 3 cycling with no grip on the handlebars
- 3 cycles used to carry more than one person.
The police rarely take any action against pavement riders, unless they’re specifically told to do so due to a surge of complaints. But even when that happens, generally the only punishment is the issue of a weak warning. Enforcement would be far more effective if they parked up in a large van, and confiscated the bike of every rider who approached them on the footpath.
Here is a very interesting short video from The Guardian regarding the proliferation of cycle lanes.