It is a very long time since I last read the Telegraph’s motoring agony aunt’s page (or is it ‘uncle’?) and I see Honest John’s last edition on Saturday 10th November 2012 had a photograph of Bradley Wiggins to illustrate a letter. Naturally it caught my eye. Here goes….
A Honest John reader called AT of Fornby had written in complaining about cyclists in the UK. AT had recently been impressed by French cyclists showing decent consideration for motorists and then having a rant about cyclists in the UK. At said “…in England I came across cyclists three abreast holding up traffic on a 50mph road when they could have used an adjacent cycle track…. why can’t British cyclists behave like the French and engender the same courtesy?”. Talk about tarring everyone with the same brush!
Honest John was, at best, a bit vague in his reply saying “….here anyone seems to think they can don Lycra shorts and morph instantly into Bradley Wiggins”.
It is really important cyclists ride according to the Highway Code and also to show courtesy to other road users, most of whom will be car drivers. This needs to be done for their own benefit and cyclists as a whole. The majority do, although there is a bit of a sub-culture in London where some cyclists will kick, thump and dent black cabs for alleged wrong doing, as well as jumping red lights and other misdemeanours. All done in the knowledge the knowledge they’ll never be caught.
And yet we’re not all like that, far from it, but you can have a “bad” cyclist, just as you can have a “bad” motorist. While the vast majority of cyclists will be responsible there will always be someone who doesn’t pay the game. Apart from those who might ride three abreast, skip red traffic lights or ride without lights, most are fine road users. These cyclists have to take their lives into hand in risking the roads in our towns and cities. Some risk heavy, aggressive traffic, some risk appalling potholes and dreadful road design features.
So, AT of Formby please reflect on the whole picture. Consider the merits of your stance and while I’m at it, have you read the Highway Code lately. There’s something about overtaking only when it’s safe to do so. Cyclists should ride both defensively and confidently if they are to avoid problems. This means taking the right position on the road and allow cars to overtake when it is safe for them to do so.