The politics of cycling

It’s only taken 99 years for a Briton to win the Tour de France (important cycle race if you haven’t heard of it). And not only that, we did it in style, managing second place as well.

Normally we usually just manage second and not first in these competitive things.

So thanks to Messrs Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome for their superb achievement and racking cycling up the British agenda even more.

Not forgetting Cavendish who achieved his fourth final stage in a row down the Champs Elysees.

Which gives me an excellent opportunity to actually complete a post I started more than a year ago….. (And I used to be known as a completer finisher at work!!)

An interesting article in the Guardian was right on the ball getting a general cycling post out on the internet.

It’s a good read, and needless to state I don’t agree with it all, or maybe at all.

But cycling is one of those very few sports – and indeed may be unique – that is far more than a competitive activity. Indeed, it’s a full-blown environmental, transport and health revolution, a popular craze, an urban mania.

and

Indeed, in virtually every city or town there are helpful websites for cyclists, maps, and advice on journeys and car-free routes. More and more major firms have schemes to encourage employees to arrive by bike. Outside the cities, the Bristol-based campaigning group Sustrans promotes 12,000 miles of traffic-free routes – the National Cycle Network.
However, this revolution is nothing like complete. In 2010, the last year for which have figures, 111 cyclists were killed on the roads and 2,660 were seriously injured. Even in London, despite the ballyhoo, few cycling commuters have routes that don’t involve close calls with lorries and speeding cars. Until big cities have a web of car-free routes that can carry most people on two wheels where they need to go, urban cycling will remain dangerous.
And smelly. More good employers are providing changing facilities and showers, as well as safe places to leave bikes, but they are still in the minority.

[Actually my employers were doing that more than ten years ago surprisingly – the NHS isn’t so useless after all].

But let’s go back a bit. And consider the title of this post.

Cycling is a political issue. I learned this some years ago when I was first dragged out on a bike again by a partner who was more or less born on a bike.

He couldn’t resist the free bikes that were dumped at the rubbish bins in Spain, and he built up a healthy store of decent bikes for us to ride.

It was a bit of a shock to the system. My cycling life has been sporadic to say the least. As a child allowed to ride around the garden and up and down the drive at home. Not allowed on the pavements or the roads. Limiting to say the least.

The daughter of the local pub landlord had been killed while cycling on the road outside our house, so therefore I wasn’t allowed to ride on the road in case I was killed too. My father claimed to have cycled the 70 miles over the Pennines to Blackpool in his youth which I very much doubt, but who knows?

At university I took my life in my hands and cycled on the road around the parks where I lived, with the daughter of the house where I rented a flat. She was 14 or so and I was 20.

A few years later I attended a history/cultural course in Amsterdam which natch, involved cycling. Around canals. Using bikes without brakes, and having to back pedal. And yes, I nearly did end up in a canal.

Next up was the tandem with Partner. We managed quite well on this, zapping up and down on old railway lines in North Yorkshire. I only jumped off a few times leaving him to fall in the bushes.

But here in Spain we jumped up a gear. New helmets, new gloves, even the tight ropa. And I got my mileage up to more than I would have expected for a woman in her mid forties. I enjoyed it.

I read up on cycling. Bike maintenance, makes of bikes, best use of energy ie most effective way of cycling.

One of the books we had bought years ago was The Penguin Bicycle Handbook by Rob Van Der Plas. Even though modern developments have superseded some of the design sections, it is as good a book as you could wish for.

While it is a practical book, it also discusses – cycleways.

Now, I thought they were an incredibly good idea. Especially when I was a car driver and a non-cyclist. Get those pesky cyclists off the road. Roads are for Toads (of Toad Hall).

Roads are not for horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, cattle, draught oxen, people or cyclists. Roads are for motorised engines. Simple huh?

After all, roads are dangerous for all those other types of traffic aren’t they? Um, perhaps not. Perhaps what is dangerous is the driver of the motorised vehicle….

Is cycling, walking, riding a horse, taking herds of animals down the street inherently dangerous? Or is it the speeding blinkered driver that impacts on them?

So to paraphrase and add my own spin on Van Der Plas from 1983:

Cycling on the roads is not dangerous.

Cyclists have a right to be on the road. They are legal road users.

Pushing cyclists off the roads onto those lovely green cycleways has a number of disadvantages –

    1 Cyclists at some point are going to have to join a road (unless all countries in the world are going to set up a totally separate cycle network of routes? Yes? I don’t think so)

    2 Less cyclists on the road, motorists less alert for cyclists and not aware of cycling junctions for people rejoining the road network

    3 Cyclists lose experience of mixing with traffic – whether animal, vehicle or people

    4 Where are clubs and racing road cyclists supposed to train? On cycleways? Do you think Bradley Wiggins would have won the Tour de France cycling leisurely around cycleways in Milton Keynes (a cycleway I know), Sydney or Vancouver (two cities where I know other cycling bloggers and who have written about cycleways)? No

    5 I ride a mountain bike although I lust after a slim light fast road bike. I doubt I could balance on one! I ride down the track and shoot back up the road. I want to be able to do that and not be confined to the byways.

Now, I have no issue with people creating lots of lovely cycle paths through beautiful countryside.

In fact the last time I was in the UK, I got me on my bike and happily cycled however many miles along a cycle path to the nearest town. When I say cycle path it was a actually a load of farm tracks that had been designated as a cycleway, rather than a purpose built one. Of course, the cycle path stopped and I had to join the road. Just. LOL.

What happened? Well all the really courteous drivers totally ignored me and refused to let me in. I ended up walking to the traffic lights, crossing over and waiting for a gap in the flow before I could set off. Cycle paths? Great – and I enjoyed the ride. I didn’t enjoy the sheer rudeness and discourteous behaviour at the other end.

What happened on the way back? This was even more fun. I had to cross the flow of traffic to turn to the cycle path. I took the wimps way out, pulled in, stopped, and waited for a gap in the traffic so I could walk my bike across. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT.

Van Der Plas and others talk about assertive cycling. Standing your ground when motorists invade your space, not being pushed into the gutter, clear signalling and pulling out into the middle of the road. It takes confidence. Cycleways don’t help that at all. They build up an illusion of an idyllic life.

A few years ago, Spain brought in some new traffic laws which included a two meter rule, ie when passing cyclists you must leave at least two meters space. It’s a good one and should be implemented everywhere. And if the roads are too narrow, then sit behind and stop being so impatient.

Our local Spanish town also introduced some cyclepaths. They are abysmal. By the time you have stopped and started at every roundabout, crossed the zebras, remounted, etc etc it would have been faster to walk. No self-respecting cyclist uses them. Sure a few tourists from the campsites do, but no-one else. Most of the old Spanish boys continue to cycle on the pavement if they can’t be bothered with the road.

The main road that follows the coast is full of cyclists, particularly in our area. Clubs are out in full force not just at weekends, but on weekdays too. These people don’t want to use cycleways.

If you are a cyclist and you want some cycleways in your area, fine. But do not say that roads are dangerous and cycleways are essential. Don’t buy into a few green words of propaganda.

What is essential is courtesy and education on the roads. Because that is where cyclists belong if they choose to ride there. And that is where I will be.

That might be going too far for today’s politicians, but the effect of hard times and the oil price on budgets, and the sheer misery of modern car commuting, suggests that a more radical agenda could be popular. That means much bolder support for cycling, with cars banned from many more roads and parks. It’s one of the few radical shifts in lifestyle that is easily deliverable and for which there is no real drawback: the benefits for the environment and indeed the health of the nation are obvious. Of course, the old and young who can’t cycle mustn’t be forgotten, as public transport is enhanced. But this is all doable. It’s a policy that literally goes with the flow. Instead of new motorways, let’s have Wiggins-lanes everywhere.

Seriously, that is farcical and totally flawed thinking. When are cars going to be banned from all roads everywhere? They aren’t. We aren’t just talking about London. Oh wait! The world revolves around us, so maybe we are.

The headline for that Guardian article was making our roads safe for cyclists. Not about creating safe little routes for timid cyclists.

So that’s what needs to be done. Make the roads safe.

One way of doing that is getting on your bike and cycling assertively.

And introduce a two metre rule. If anywhere is wide enough to have a cycle lane then it can manage a two metre rule.

A few draconian penalties for cycling-related offences wouldn’t go amiss.

And parents – DON’T cycle with your kids on the pavement. And don’t tell them to wear a helmet when you don’t. What sort of stupid example are you setting? Don’t forget the gloves either.

So when we have sorted out the roads – THEN we can consider those pretty cycleways. But let’s get our priorities right. And they aren’t cycleways.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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41 Responses to The politics of cycling

  1. EllaDee says:

    Great post and very topical in the City of Sydney area. I like the 2 metre rule & the draconian penalties. The Lord Mayor, Clover has implemented inner city bike lanes to encourage communters to cycle, in their own designated lanes. Keeps them safe, pedestrians safe, and saves irate, impatient motorists from themelves. Of course it’s not about that, it’s been turned into a political issue, mostly by pollies who have tax payer funded cars & drivers. I commute via train so it matters not to me personally but I love it because it covers off one of my pet hates, people who ride cycles on footpaths. They aren’t cyclists, they are crappy pushbike riders who ring their bells at those of us who know they are crappy pushbike riders and walk on footpaths 😉

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    • Yup, pavements are for people. When they are there of course. Otherwise people take their chances with everything else on the road although we all know who takes precedence there. But that was why I mentioned parents taking their kids on pavements – what a bad way to start cycling. Get them on the road and give them confidence – I have seen parents who do that too. We have a family cycle Sunday ride in our Spanish village – excellent idea. Compulsory helmets and natch, all done on the road.

      Cycling does get politicised and for all the wrong reasons, ie someone else’s gain. Putting in cycle lanes are treating the symptoms not the cause. The cause of a perceived problem in this case is bad driving and lack of respect for other road users. It is no more than a cheap vote pulling stunt – look how caring and how green we are blah blah blah.

      In Spain everything is fair game. We all ride down the Paseo Maritimo when it is quiet, nick across footpaths on one way streets if they are quiet, and go down one way streets the wrong way. It’s great living in a lawless country!!

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  2. bluonthemove says:

    In London there is a massive cycle network, largely free from cars. Its called the pavement 😦
    On these pavements, cyclists behave just like car drivers on the roads, shouting, ringing their bells and ordering pedestrians out of their way. We also have shared paths, where the cyclists definition of sharing is that the pedestrian stands in the nettles at the side whilst they cycle by at speed.

    The incidence of injuries to pedestrians is grossly under reported simply because cyclists cannot easily be identified and just ride off into the distance having knocked another pedestrian over. I think the time has come for bicycles to be registered and insurance made compulsory; perhaps registered to a household rather than individually and insured as an extra on the house insurance policy.

    I have been a motorist for 35 years and only had one brush with a cyclist. Today I walk most places, do some local journeys on the bus and use trains and the underground when I’m going further afield. Oh yes, I guess you’ll want to know, I was stopped at the bottom of a hill at a red traffic light with my indicators flashing left. As the light changed to green I moved off just as a cyclist coming down the hill at great speed tried to overtake me on the inside ignoring my indicators.

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    • London has clearly changed! The pavements were too full of people as far as I remember for any cyclists to want to be on there. Seriously, cyclists do not want to ride on pavements. Well, I don’t. There is no need.

      The only conclusion I can take from your initial comments is that cyclists are fed up of abusive motorists and are taking other routes – but still, no need to disrespect pedestrians. This is my gripe. All forms of transport should be able to work together, not the biggest fastest one has priority (yeah, I know, dream on).

      Rather a fascist suggestion there! We actually did have insurance for some years when we were in the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club or something similar). I am not a big believer in insurance. It’s paying to be irresponsible. You chuck a bit of a dosh someone’s way, do something wrong and someone foots the bill.

      I take it you don’t cycle? 😀

      For every tale you can tell as a motorist, I can tell you ten the same as a cyclist. Have to say overtaking on the inside is a pretty crass. I had to take some time to visualise that one for UK driving side of the road!!

      In terms of innovative ideas, I actually think part of the car driving test should involve people getting on a bike or a moped or something much smaller so that they have some idea what it is like. I say this as someone who found cyclists a damned nuisance when they clogged up the roads half a dozen abreast and got most irritated when they wouldn’t move over. But as an invisible cyclist while wearing bright clothes and still being ignored??

      Maybe Spain is different? Wider roads? Faster cyclists? More respect for cyclists? Who knows.

      As a driver of around 30 years, I’ve (touch wood) had no brushes with cyclists, horses or pedestrians. As a – brief – horse rider I’ve had no issues either. As a pedestrian and a cyclist I’ve had plenty of encounters with drivers.

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      • bluonthemove says:

        As a child I cycled everywhere. I guess I stopped when I came to London University and had no where to safely keep a bike. During the late 80s, when the train people went on strike and I was working in Covent Garden in central London, I bought a fold up bike and used to drive to Clapham Junction way, park my car, and cycle the rest of the way. Continued with that until I changed job, said fold up bike is gathering dust in the cupboard under the stairs.

        My comment really was that my experience of cyclists as a pedestrian is very similar to the experience cyclists have of car drivers. I am not supporting in anyway how some motorists treat cyclists. I don’t think the ability to hold cyclists to account when they injure a pedestrian is particularly fascist. I live in a cul de sac, there simply is no car traffic, but cyclists can exit to another road They still feel the need to cycle on the pavement.
        Blu

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        • No it was the idea of having them registered and compulsory insurance that my rebellious nature didn’t like. Of course cyclists should be held to account, and they shouldn’t be on the pavement in the first place. And as ED says above, it’s a pain when they expect pedestrians to move out of the way for them, in an area where they shouldn’t be anyway. In the past when I’ve been walking I’ve usually stood my ground so they have to screech to a halt or go on the road 🙂 That was mainly kids and teenagers – it may have changed of course and irresponsible adults may be doing it now.

          The difference between the cars and the cyclists on the road, and the cyclists and the pedestrians is that in the first instance both – theoretically – have equal rights to be there, in the second case, cyclists shouldn’t even be there.

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          • bluonthemove says:

            I’m not sure how you hold cyclists to account if they remain unregistered. It is illegal to try and detain a cyclist at the scene of an accident, and somewhat difficult if you are hurt and they are not. With the cut backs in police numbers, you’d be very lucky to find a copper just round the corner.

            The best you are likely to be able to do is a photo of their back as they ride off into the distance. I know you have a rebellious streak (LOL), but I’m sure you and partner’s motor vehicles are both registered and have the current required insurance. If motor vehicles have to be registered so the cyclist can note down their number and complain to the police, why not give the same rights to pedestrians as far as cyclists are concerned
            Blu

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          • You can research the stats as well as I can, but basically bikes do not kill as many pedestrians as cars do. More vehicles mount the pavement and kill pedestrians. There is also far more chance of a cyclist being killed by a driver than there is of a pedestrian being killed by a cyclist. Fifty five cycling deaths in the UK in six months? Let’s look at priorities. Cut down deaths from dangerous and extremely poor driving. I accept I haven’t visited London for some years (fortunately) nor do I have any desire to, so I can’t comment on the vicious cyclists who are out to get all the pedestrians. I am not condoning bad cycling for a minute but in the scheme of things, overall, cyclists are far more at risk, as are pedestrians, from cars – than they are a hazard to other road users.

            Save me writing more on why not licence/register cyclists:
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/bike-blog/2010/dec/13/regulating-cyclists

            Yes, our vehicles are always registered, insured and all the rest of it. Nor do we speed. How many drivers can say that? I have no interest in breaking laws for my personal satisfaction and indulgence. I either get up early enough (as a driver) to get somewhere on time, or I am late. Simple. Speed kills may be slightly inaccurate, but speeding drivers and their vehicles certainly do.

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  3. Vicky says:

    I loved cycling as a kid, it was my mode of transport to and from school, and my mates and I would be off at the weekends, with a rucksack filled with picnic goodies.
    I would love to re-create those days ( well not school) and would certainly go out more on my bike, if I felt safer, but so many car drivers are in such a tunnel visioned desperate hurry.
    Main roads are a definite no go, at speeds of 50-60 mph, unless you are a cycle aware driver, a bike will be the last thing you’ll see.
    Country lanes, which sound idyllic to cycle round, are almost as bad, ok the traffic is slower, but having an irate driver up your arse, because they can’t get past is no pleasure, It’s exactly the same on a horse too.
    Incidents and accidents?
    I’ve had my boot clipped by a car wing mirror while out riding my horse, T has been knocked off his bike, when a wing mirror clipped his handlebars, but the most traumatic was while horse riding with a friend, and a speeding car careered into her horse, fatally injuring him, and leaving my friend in hospital.
    The two metre rule sounds excellent, but who is there to enforce it?

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    • Fun childhood!! Traffic does go quite fast on our main road say 80kms (50mph) but as I say, the roads are wide, and there is hard shoulder too. There are some hellish big trucks on there as well, which don’t even bear thinking about if they hit you, but they are probably used to looking out for us all. It’s not just part-timers like A and me, there are the clubs, and then there are the old boys who might go to their patch of ground and bring a few veggies back in the basket on the front.

      I think country lanes would be worse because of being narrower. Something comes around a blind bend ? 😦 Sounds like your nightmare story. How horrific for you all.

      What’s interesting about the two metre rule is that it is followed by and large. To the extent that cars will cross a solid white line rather than not leave the two metres! But as they frequently do that anyway to overtake other vehicles it’s hardly an issue to them.

      My nag about cycle lanes is that it promotes the idea that cycling is dangerous, that bikes shouldn’t be on the road (which is only for cars and motorbikes), and does nothing to address the crux of the problem which is poor, aggressive, and as you say, tunnel-vision driving.

      It’s one of those issues where you have to say you agree with it, or you are regarded as being anti-green, or anti-cycling, and that’s just not the case. I doubt people think the issues through at all.

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  4. I like the idea of the long distance cycle path, away from motors so one can relish the view without the danger of being knocked off. First problem, long distance paths are, in my neck of the woods right next to the motorway / dual carriageway ergo embankments and no view.
    You are of course right. Roads need to be made safe for cyclists, and not just from the 4×4 crowd (sorry) but from the pot holes as well. The edge of the road is never repaired, just the middle bit where the big vehicles sit!

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    • Vicky says:

      Hmmm( clears throat), I know you’ve put an apology, but why have you singled out just 4×4 drivers and potholes. The worse in my area are the boy racers driving Golfs and Fiestas and any other motor that is ‘cool’ to be seen in (that’s not my idea of cool I might add), and the mothers on the school run, who’ve got their mind on everything else but driving. Though I do agree with potholes, and drains and manhole covers and………

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      • Well I’m puzzled by the four by reference too as the only close encounters of an unwanted kind that we have had have been from bog-standard euroboxes, bright new shiny nothing-in-particular cars whose drivers are only interested in getting from A to B as quickly as possible. They are often fat but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence and I am, of course not remotely fattist. I think we can all agree on the school run – and dads are just as bad re A’s experience that I wrote about a while ago.

        There are different categories of cycling I suppose and I should probably have discussed those too. Road cyclists – who may be training competitively or out with clubs, 99% on racing bikes, and road cyclists who are going from A to B (like drivers) for whatever reason (to work, shopping, whatever). Then there are weekend cyclists, a bit like Sunday drivers, who like to cycle a few tracks or a quiet pretty road. And in our area in Spain we get holiday cyclists from the camp sites, who bring their bikes with them, fold-up or standard and happily potter around the stupid cycleways in town. Holiday cyclists never, but NEVER wear helmets or cloves or cycling clothes.

        Oh dear. I could have made a separate post out of that one……

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      • Sorry Vicky, not having a pop at responsible 4 x 4ers but round my way they are few and far between.

        Of course the others are a nuisance too but …

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        • R, I checked out the stats for the 55 cyclist deaths caused up to 17 July this year. Four bys were in a minority. A large minority if that is possible. I wonder if 4x4s get bad press because they are more visible?

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          • More terrifying as they grow ever larger. Of course they are not all bad but as I mentioned to Vicky, where I am they are a nightmare. (I live very near an exclusive expensive girls boarding school)

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          • let me guess. does it begin with R? (no not R for range rover although that may well apply)

            Oh and the evoques are smaller 🙂

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          • No, although I am not far from there either! The one I am near is further North and not quite so select but pretty posh none the less.

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          • Oh well, I only know two posh schools and the other one is in Cheltenham! Neither of which would have sniffed at me I’m sure (fortunately). Although I have met women from there (ie both RD and Chelt LC) and they were strangely nice!

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          • But would they recognise Roedean now, it’s been painted a strange creamy coulour and looks aweful. I got quite a shock driving past the other day.

            As a boy I had a thing for what we would describe as Posh Birds, no political correctness then! My first proper girlfriend was a ballet dancer and introduced me to the delights of ballet. My family, all flat caps and whippets (or the Southern equivalent … probably smocks and sucking straw) were singularly unimpressed!

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          • My partner always seemed to aspire to ‘educated women’ (he may have regretted that). Strange the concept of women wanting someone honest and basic and men wanting a posh bit of stuff – however you wish to put it. Which has nothing to do with cycling.

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          • Vicky says:

            Nah!, the government want someone to blame, and it sounds good to say 4x4s are polluting monsters, so everyone else jumps on the band wagon.

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        • Vicky says:

          I guess down your way, you have the Chelsea Tractors to contend with, driven by the nerds and the ‘look what I’ve got’ brigade.
          Worcestershire is very rural, so a lot of 4x4s are needed, because of the type of roads and conditions in winter (and summer floods).
          I really hate the way the government have tagged us as ‘polluting gas guzzlers’ and the ‘baddies of the world’ I personally have pulled someone out of a ditch, and last winter, while walking my dogs, came across someone stuck, so went back home for my motor so I could help him. I know I’m not alone in this type of gesture, but we are all tarred with the same brush ‘huh, bloody 4x4s’
          Sorry K, a bit of sidetracking there.

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  5. bluonthemove says:

    Can I reiterate I am not pro motorist. Of course cars injure more cyclists and pedestrians than anything else. A motorist who kills or seriously injures another person as a result of their bad driving (alcohol related or not) should lose their driving licence for ever, we don’t want people like that driving on our roads ever again. Additional punishments may also apply. I remember reading about some guy who crashed his dad’s range rover into the back of a parked car killing the child in the back seat, he got 4 yrs in jail and banned from driving for 3 yrs. Couple of days after his release, he was back behing the wheel of a car. Stupid.

    I was hit by a cyclist the other day, on my elbow by her handlebars. She was a 30 something woman who was in a hurry, and shouted at me to get out of the way; I didn’t as I was on the footpath and the edges are very overgrown. These situations don’t happen on busy town centre pavements very much, but on the pavements of residential roads where there are few people about, and on footpaths. I didn’t need hospital, just a few days on ibuprofen and long sleeve shirts to hide the bruising.

    Because there is no way of identifying her, this woman just cycled off having assaulted me. The pro-cycle lobby, the likes of whom write in The Guardian, are opposed to identification of cyclists purely so they can have carte blanche over how they treat other people, and their only arguments are that it is too much bother for them to get registered and that car drivers are much worse offenders anyway. Car drivers are irrelevant to this discussion.

    I’ll shut up now, pedestrians are the bottom of the pile and I guess always will be. I just hope I can get away from pavement/path cyclists in Gibraltar.

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    • In your dreams. The answer to the last one is no, sadly. I was open mouthed watching a father and son cycling up Queensway yesterday on a narrow pavement. Both wore helmets, the son was ahead and the father slowed down to wait behind pedestrians!! It’s a good thing I wasn’t walking, and an even better thing that my partner didn’t encounter them. Teaching children (quite an old one actually) to ride on the pavement is very, very bad parenting. (Says the non-parent).

      Car drivers may be irrelevant to your discussion. They were not irrelevant to my original post. But, now you’ve said about being hit, I see where your comments are coming from.

      It’s not about being pro or anti motorist (or pro or anti cyclist). My point is that all road users deserve the same respect. Start walking around the streets of Gib where there are no pavements – anything but a vehicle is bottom of the pile 😦

      I think it is unfair to say that the Guardian is opposed to ID of cyclists so they can abuse people (I paraphrase). When my partner was run off the road by some woman in a Spanish car, do you think he had time to avoid falling on the floor, whip out his phone, take a pic of the extremely quickly disappearing car and take a pic to then call the police? The answer is no, to save you thinking about it. What’s the difference with you and the woman cyclist? A ‘brush’ with a car is still a hell of a sight worse than with a bicycle. Or all the cyclists killed by HGVs in the UK this year?

      Can’t find similar figures for Spain although there were 67 in 2012 apparently.

      Interestingly when we have been walking, or even cycling in Spain, people slow down if they are coming up quickly behind you to wait for you to be aware of them, I am talking about country tracks here. Maybe it’s a UK thing these days? Get out of my way, I am more important?

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  7. Jean says:

    Well, I guess I could say enough about cycling on many different fronts. After all, part of my blogs are on cycling. 🙂 Glad that you rediscovered cycling. Those bike paths in your town sound awful. Sounds like short-term planning with the end result.

    I don’t see cycling as political. It’s a mistake to think it’s political. Then we should say that cars are political. They are part of the other equation.

    For myself, it’s just part of daily life, like brushing my teeth. I’ve been car-free for last 30 yrs., returned to cycling for transportation, fitness and vacation-touring in last 20 yrs. If I don’t do it several times per week, my body misses it. Craves for it. So a long hard wintery icy and snowy month is hard. Only mitigated by snowshoeing occasionally in the mountains.

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    • We don’t cycle anything like the distances you do. But my partner starts getting irritable if we haven’t been on the bike for a while and finds an excuse to jump on. We would have problems without a vehicle travelling back to our Spanish home with the dog – they can’t go on buses and I am not up to cycling 200kms one day and back the next!!

      Here in Gib during the week, it’s so small that we tend to walk everywhere. By the time we have carried a bike downstairs you could be half way to whereever you are going! But that’s when he makes the excuse that he feels like cycling to the shops just because.

      When I used the words politics and political, I didn’t mean elected politicians hijacking cycling (although they have). I suppose I was really looking at contentious or controversial issues and cycling lanes is one of them. Many others have come up on this post – cyclists riding on pavements, registration, insurance, clothing, causing injuries to pedestrians… the list is pretty long. But transport per se is political. I could write a whole different post about that.

      But yes, to people who cycle, it is simple. Get up, have coffee, jump on bike whether for a pleasure ride or to go to the shops (him not me, he’s got the panniers). It’s not so simple to everyone else. I’ll do a follow-up post, maybe when I take some pic of the silly paths, unless i can find some old ones I too. They are such a waste of space!

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  8. Its getting a little better in the States. Bicycle lanes are popping up on roads, so at least local governments are acknowledging the all around benefit — to people and to the environment — of cycling. Even though cars often don’t care whether there’s a bicycle lane or not. They’re also turning old railroad lines into walking/biking trails. I’m thinking about taking up mountain biking, to get off the roads.

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    • We’ve actually had cycle lanes in the UK for years. Technically they were cycle and bus lanes – avoid the cars and get mown down by a bus! Old railway lines have long been walking/cycling tracks here. By here I mean the UK (not Gib!!) confused identity me! I like the mix, it’s nice to get off the road, but it’s also nice to zap along it especially by the sea. There is a decent hard shoulder on our main road in Spain, which helps, but the main point of my article is that cyclists have a right to be on the road, and should assert that right.

      I think it’s interesting how middle-aged English speaking women (me, Jean for example) will get on a bike, and yet in Spain, the only Spaniards I see are in their 20s. Get married, have kids, clean house, cook food – life stops at 35/40.

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