Road Lice?

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8 Responses

  1. Felicity says:

    Nice piece!

    I and my kids cycle on pavements quite often because the roads round us (Perth) are busy, a minority of drivers are dangerous and I don’t want to sacrifice my kids to almost certain death to prove we can do it. In reality, going round town we do a mix of road, snickleways and alleys (what a historical godsend these are), pavement and shared use. We don’t always stop for pedestrians, though we give way but then we’re not in a cargo bike. I feel bad about the pavements. I feel a bit guilty, especially because there are three of us and although my boys are generally aware of people and know to get off or give away, at the end of the day they are boys on bikes and they get told off pretty often. But more, I feel we simply don’t have a choice because as a family we don’t have safe space. I feel pedestrians have a place, cars have a place and bikes don’t really have a place. So, when we’re on the pavement I feel trapped between two bad choices.

    I used to jump red lights years ago (long before Boris bikes) in central London (before kids) because it was the only way to get ahead of the traffic. It was the only way I felt safe cycling . When I was surrounded by all the lycra-clad men on their commute I sometimes felt like practically the only woman who rode a sit up and beg bike in normal clothes in central London. I don’t jump lights now. I might still though (alone, in London), if the conditions were the same as then but I hear cycling’s better there now.

    We’ve had one accident with a driver last week and two near more misses in the last month, all within a few streets of our house in the city centre. A car nearly hit us as it came round a corner, a car revved at speed directly at us and a car couldn’t wait for us to turn and overtook us as we were turning right. That could have been horrendous. Each time we braked and one time my son crashed. See I try to get my voice heard but so far there’s been a deafening silence from the powers that be. When we went to get our bikes looked over at the fantastic Stirling Active Travel Hub on Friday I felt really down because of the accidents and because we’d been yelled at and jostled by passengers on the train just for trying to get two bikes off. I felt like giving up our bikes. But I can’t because that’s our life. I felt like moving to the Netherlands, where I’ve cycled quite a bit or to Germany where I grew up with cycling but although I would love my kids to have that feeling of being outside, free and much safer from traffic, that isn’t our life. I feel trapped again because on the one hand that’s our life and on the other, if we don’t give it up one of us could end up dead before long at all. I’ve cycled all my life so it would probably be one of my children.

    I don’t ride a bike to show people it’s possible because it’s I feel it’s possible only at a significant risk to our lives. That’s also why I’m not a Bikeability supporter. I would be, if there were safe ways to get to schools. But certainly when we tried it, it was anything but safe and we stopped. Now we homeschool.

    You are right not to get angry. I did get angry with two of the car drivers who nearly killed us. I don’t think it’s a disproportionate reaction to seeing your kids nearly hit car by a car, I’m no saint and I certainly don’t want to end up a silent, dead cyclist martyr. But it isn’t a good example especially with so much intolerance around so, until I have a better idea I think we’d better get a headset camera.

  2. Anne White says:

    We are currently in Spain ( Girona)
    The attitude here could not be more different. Cycling is completely embraced. Drivers are considerate and 99% of the time give the required 1.5 mts clearance ( there is occasionally the odd one who doesn’t but it’s very rare) It is possible to ride into and around the city centre with no problem at all.
    There are bike paths everywhere but for a road bike it’s safer and quicker on the road. In Valencia region we road on miles and miles of bike path as wide as our single track roads. It’s seems that wherever a new road is built( and there are many) the old road is turned into bike path or service road. These service roads often run alongside major roads and motorways. So cycling is embraced from the very top level of government right down to town / area councils and then onto individuals. So, I think therein lies the problem in the UK.

  3. Lizzie says:

    Wow, that’s quite a post…. As an older cyclist who doesn’t cycle with children and hasn’t been subjected to this kind of behaviour it’s good for me to read how cyclists like yourself who cycle with children are affected it. Being an admirer of Josie Dew I have often read her rants on this behaviour too. I have though, often had drivers overtake me far too close and in unsafe places.

    I also appreciate what the above two commenters have written. My older son lived in Germany for some time and so I have heard how much better cyclists are provided for over there. And I’ve read about how safe cycling in Holland is a comparatively recent thing, whereas I always thought it had “always” been like that.

    I have cycled on and off since my childhood but have only started to do it regularly and to go longer distances since circumstances almost forced me into it a few years ago, and now I love it and would far rather cycle than use a car. But so often I hear people say “oh it’s dangerous, I couldn’t do that” or “Do take care!” (as if I wouldn’t….). And off they drive in their car making the roads a lot less pleasant for us cyclists…..

    Whenever I am passed by someone who knows me, in a car, I really hope that just by seeing me on my bike they might think about getting on a bike themselves.

    I joined Cycling UK recently partly in order that my subscription might help make them make a difference. I hope it does but when reading rants like your own I really think I should somehow get out there and try to help in more active ways. So thank you for going to the trouble of writing this post.

  4. Len says:

    Thanks for the post :-).

    Can I also add there are many other ways to get involved. Edinburgh has recently had to major road developments go before planning: Picardy Place and Trams to Newhaven. Neither of these developments are suitable for pedestrians nor cyclists. And Edinburgh is certainly not the only place this is happening. The only way we can change this in future is to keep the pressure up; comment on the plans; contact you councillors; join a community council; support organisations like Living Street & Spokes. We are up against very large lobbying organisations and undeserved privileged, only way is to keep the pressure up.

  5. Tony F says:

    Agree with most of what you said, a few comments.
    Often cycling is simply an extension of walking and for some a cycle is a mobility aid. The most recent anti cycling report, sorry I mean investigation into how we can attack people on bikes with harsher laws whilst utterly ignoring the real problem (that being motorists) but described as a cycling safety review, had a little known fact tidily hidden away at the very end with no reference to it despite being massively important.
    It stated that in pedestrian/person on a bike incidents that resulted in death it was actually pedestrians who were at fault, 50% more. In 6 years there were 4 deaths were a person on a bike was at fault from the 20 deaths, it fails to mention how many people on bikes were killed by pedestrians and motorists.

    I don’t agree with your summation that people on bikes need to take the high moral ground, we already do everyone a favour, yes obey the laws as they stand but often the laws don’t actually apply to people on bikes as they are really made for killers in big metal boxes with massive amounts of kinetic energy.
    Going through a red light isn’t as dangerous as you think, not a single person on a bike has died because of this action, not even in that there London, also cities like Paris and elsewhere are changing the laws to allow going through a red in some instances for people on bikes, a recognition that sometimes it not only makes it safer for the vulnerable person it aids traffic flow too.
    Not being aggressive, sorry but when someone deliberately aims 1.5tons or more of mass at you it’s normal to react, when as you say this is a daily occurrence this can and does build up, human beings will eventually crack and do something far more overtly aggressive if they don’t let off steam at the time. In fact not reacting at all gices the impression everything was okay when in fact it wasn’t, might it make a situation more antagonistic, maybe, however the facts show that no more people were killed due to sticking two fingers up or swearing at a driver or even confronting them at the next set of lights to explain what they did wrong/ask them what the feck they were doing.

    I don’t do as you and label X type of vehicle, it’s just humans doing criminal things that threatens other humans, for me as a commuter since the mid 80s I don’t see it as a particular marque, crap drivers drive everything and anything, equally considerate drivers do too.

    Safe cycling

  6. Angie says:

    I really enjoyed your article. And I’ll be honest, I found it because I was frustrated with cyclists. Where I live, the cyclist culture is very much “everyone get out of my way!”. I noticed that joggers, skateboarders and other walkers are all able to co-exist and get around each other on the same path in the park but the cyclists come through screaming “on your left! on your left! EXCUSE ME! on your left!” And their expectation genuinely seems to be that everyone else is supposed to yield to them. Quite frankly it startles me when I’m out walking with my children and somebody comes up yelling behind me. It’s also frustrating to feel like I’m supposed to violently snatch my children out of the way so the cyclist doesn’t have to move around us when they come up from behind. I appreciated reading things from a cyclist perspective and it genuinely took my feelings of frustration and made me a little more empathetic.

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