Every morning on my walk into the City, I see the brand-new cycle path along the side of Blackfriars Road being put to good use. But every morning, I also see some of you cyclists riding on the pavement next to it, weaving among pedestrians.
The special lane made for you, carved out (at significant expense) from our precious, scarce, shared social space, is right there, plain as day – but some obviously just think that they are above using it. It is peculiar; the pedestrians aren’t walking in the road, the motorcycles and cars aren’t driving off-road – only you, it seems, can’t quite stick to your lane.
Before you say it – yes: here we see the literal demonstration of what you cyclists always say in your defence. Most of us aren’t like that… A minority of bad guys are colouring cycling’s image for all of us… It’s only the exceptions that catch your eye… And all of that’s true. But it’s no less true that, when the rest of us see the bad apple, we inevitably notice – and inevitably associate the act with cycling.
What else is going on? Let me see: undertaking (and blaming the motor vehicle if your undertaking results in a collision); going through red lights (all the time, including on pedestrian crossings); doing that weird not-holding-the-handlebars thing (what is that about, anyway?); cycling while on the phone, not paying attention to where you’re going; mounting the pavement (often to park a Boris bike, but at high speed), and its close cousin, cutting corners. That’s just the list that comes to my mind; readers may have others. All of them happen with great regularity, and all of them pose risks to other road users – and to yourselves.
Perhaps these things aren’t said to you directly. This may be because what you are doing is so very on trend. It may be because of the remarkable fanaticism held by some of you towards your chosen method of transportation (especially, oddly, among the newest recruits to your ranks). But I promise that pedestrians in London are thinking these thoughts, and occasionally sharing them surreptitiously with one another in quiet places when certain that no lycra-cladders are around.
You may think that you’re not acting wrongly. You may think that you’re not acting dangerously. Both of these beliefs are incorrect, but even if you’re right, consider it from a PR point of view. You are in the vanguard of a welcome trend towards healthier, sustainable, eco-friendly transport. You have a responsibility not to trash the brand. At present, it seems that you want others to obey all the rules that protect you, but you don’t want to obey the rules that protect others. Just as you are more vulnerable than cars, pedestrians are more vulnerable than you.
The main thing, anyway, isn’t the inconvenience or even the danger that you pose to others – it’s the danger into which these actions put yourselves. You are taking crazy risks. You may think that you have a magic bubble protecting you. You don’t.