Get Off The Pavement!
Every now and then the local or national papers here will go off on a rant about cyclists with no respect for the law riding on the pavement (sidewalk), terrorising innocent pedestrians.
I’m troubled by this, because I think they’ve got a point.
No, I have no problem with considerate, just-above-a-walking-pace cycling (which is actually illegal in the UK). What really gets me is the people who ride like they’re in some sort of race. We get them here, mostly on the pavement that runs along the sea front, which can get pretty busy at times, and in places is quite narrow.
So on last Saturday morning I almost got run down by a pair of these while I was passing Cullercoats harbour. These guys were really tanking it - the first one startled me, and I shouted at the second to stop. I got a mouth full of abuse in reply.
No, I didn’t get a picture of these two-wheeled terrors, they were away before I could even get my camera out of my pocket, but here’s where it happened:
That pavement’s probably about 8ft wide, but because of the bin and the bollards, its effective width is probably about 5-6ft. The road has a pedestrian island in the middle to make it a pinch point for anyone on a bike, and some hatching to make drivers feel more secure about their speed.
Anyway, here’s my real problem with this sort of riding like a loon on the pavement behaviour:
It really is just a tiny minority of schmucks who ride like this, with no respect for anyone around them and acting like they’re in their own private race on their own private pavement. But it’s the rest of us that get tarred with the same brush - there are a whole host of the lunatic fringe with their green-ink pens poised ready to write to the papers, their MPs, or heaven forbid, blogs, and tell their friends / neighbours / anyone around about how all cyclists are a menace to society / ought to be banned / licensed / taxed / insured / strung-up.
The plain fact is that just as bikes and motorised vehicles don’t mix terribly well (it’s the momentum factor), neither do bikes and pedestrians. The sooner we get great bike trails that go everywhere, the better.