I’ve been cycling to work for a few years now, albeit in several large chunks.
In this most recent chunk, I’ve been charging up and down the roads of south east London for around a month and I think I’ve noticed a few things which give me the perfect right to give pedestrians a piece of my mind. Don’t worry, I can spare it.
- A cycle lane is for bicycles! Not for standing in to say farewell to friends, or repack your shopping, or look up at the fascinating architecture of historic London, or wonder why you’re surrounded by people on bikes.
- If you want to cross the road look BOTH ways!
London may be Europe’s most cosmopolitan city, but it is virtually the only capital city in Europe where traffic drives on the left. When crossing the road, look left AND right.
- If you’re crossing and see a cyclist coming directly towards you, for God’s sake (and your’s) DON’T STOP! If you’re trying to guess which side he’ll overtake, so is he. Make deliberate moves.
- You may think a collision with a cyclist is nothing to worry about, BUT IT IS! Remember Scott’s Law of the Bleedin’ obvious: “Ye cannae change the laws of physics, cap’n”. The equation is simple: (Bike + saddlebags + cyclist) x speed vs Pedestrian = Ouch! What you’re experiencing in the resulting collision are the effects of something called Conservation of Momentum — you WILL get hurt!
- Getting a bike moving from a standing start is not easy. Therefore, don’t be surprised if a cyclist is not happy if you press the button on that Pelican Crossing just as he gets to you.
- Following on from Number 5 … very occasionally, even the BEST cyclists ignore red lights. If there’s no-one waiting at the crossing, or the road is empty (or even if it isn’t), cyclists have been known to treat a red light as a give-way sign.
- Don’t be a prat. Do I need to explain that one?
Seriously, I don’t want to hurt anyone but in just a few years, the number of frankly suicidal pedestrians wandering aimlessly around London and stepping out in front of me seems to have skyrocketed. I know it’s not personal, I see them doing all the time.
It’s not even as if ringing my bell furiously seems to have any impact at all, even if I will. Firstly, many pedestrians are simply deaf to any warning sound because they have a personal stereo blasting in their ears, but more recently the number of blasted “pedi-cabs” now clogging up every narrow road in the capital desperately touting for business inanely by ringing their bells at every pretty girl who passes means many people now switch off to the time-honoured polite ring of a bicycle bell.
It’s got to the point where I’m even considering carrying a rape alarm to try to get stupid “walkfolk” to take some kind of notice lest I run over them and turn them into big puddles of strawberry jam.
To sum up, I just want to reiterate how some people are putting their very lives in danger. Even at slow speeds, the energy contained in me — a rather substantial individual — and my sturdy steel bike is enough to break bones and crack skulls, and I’m wearing a crash helmet and leg pads.
With the best will in the world, in a cycle/pedestrian interface situation, who is REALLY going to come off worst?