It is impossible to shirk away from the problem of problem cyclists. I can’t claim to be 100 per cent law abiding given that at times it is far safer for me to commit minor transgressions but I do pay attention to pedestrians, I thank motorists who let me through and I try not to get in their way unnecessarily. I do, though, tend to bang on their roof if they cut me up badly.
The huge increase in cyclists in London has delivered enormous benefits. Motorists for the most part are undoubtedly more considerate towards cyclists. In a way, they have to be. If they have half a dozen cyclists in front of them at traffic lights, they simply can’t try to squeeze past them all.So they just have to relax and go with the flow. This has had the bonus effect of, effectively, slowing down much of the traffic in central London although I bet this has had very little effect on overall journey times.
That leaves cyclists. Of course, most cycle reasonably and try not to make a nuisance of themselves. But there is a significant majority of macho cyclists who behave just as badly as traditional white van men. A friend of mine was cycling near the Oval on Monday when he passed a cyclist who then promptly deliberately cut him up from the inside, almost toppling him over towards the passing cars. My pal caught up with the mad cyclist and asked why he did that: ‘you were in my way’, came the reply, and he slithered away before punches were thrown. My friend, who is an experienced cyclist, was badly shaken by the incident the day after when I met him for breakfast – what on earth was that about, we both wondered.
One point we postulated was that Cycling Superhighways kind of send out the wrong message. They are encouraging speed and macho type cycling rather than the more sedate progress that one sees on the continent in places where there are considerable numbers of cyclists. Just a thought.
Oddly, on the way to meet him, I had been cut up by what I took to be an inexperienced young woman cyclist who had passed me but then was forced into my lane.
To end these musings on a good note, however, it is amazing that the closure to traffic of Farringdon Road for the Crossrail works means that only cyclists can get through in the southwards direction. Amazingly, special provision has been made for cyclists with a single track lane that wiggles through the roadworks and, at one point, even means that pedestrians have to use the other footway. This would never have happend a few years ago, and shows there is genuine progress. But cyclists have to do their bit, too, to ensure that they do not give easy excuses to opponents of cycling to stop further progress.
I am convinced of one thing. If cyclists had proper provision, and could feel safe for most of their journeys, there be far less antagonism between motorists and cyclists. As I point out above, the sheer volume of cyclists has already changed motorists behaviour. If were there proper facilities which encouraged even more cyclists on to the streets, behaviour all round would improve.