Sport Comment: Sorting cycle safety would be serious legacy

John Inverdale
AMID all the huffing, puffing and posturing about the legacy of 2012, this weekend will offer the most obvious evidence of how the London Olympics have changed our lives.

Tens of thousands of us, of you, will take part in Ride London but in so doing will fuel the fire of one of the bitterest battles taking place in Britain at the moment.

Who owns our roads? The legacy of Hoy, Wiggins and latterly Froome is to encourage so many of us to take to two wheels for health and environmental reasons, but it has also dramatically changed the balance of power on the highways and byways of the UK.

The four-wheeled fraternity so used to being kings of the road and regarding cyclists as something of an irrelevance are now confronted by a new breed of the bike brigade who ride two and three abreast, challenging oncoming vehicles to supremacy, riding red lights and weaving across lanes with impunity, as well as lurching out into the traffic to avoid scandalously ignored potholes.

And so as cyclists get more aggressive in a “don’t you realise that we are the children of Bradley” way, so motorists, perhaps subconsciously, become less willing to accommodate them.

I write this column following an altercation with a transit van that forced my bike into some roadworks, leaving my right leg ripped to shreds. The alternative was ending up under his wheels.

For those of us who cycle, it’s an everyday fear: white van man – or any driver for that matter – who has not embraced the post-Olympic concept of cyclists as equal partners on the road.

So this weekend, as closure notices go up all across London and Surrey, the anti-bike brigade will complain about the inconvenience of it all while, perhaps, secretly plotting their revenge on some poor sucker cycling to work the next day.

And those who ride the route will savour the freedom and safety a no-car world affords them. But this time next week the war will be back on.

So when we talk about the cycling boom as a boon born of 2012 we are overlooking one thing. Instead of mutual acceptance and understanding, the conduct of both protagonists has become more extreme.

Memo to Mr Mayor, flagged urgent: for those of us on two wheels it’s getting scarier, not safer, by the day. Dealing with that problem would be a serious legacy.