Three in a Red

Sorry folks – it’s been so long since I posted here. Don’t be fooled though into thinking that means I’ve forgotten what goes on out on the roads.

A very busy few weeks and a holiday (cycling round the roads of London – not). But I’m back and let’s see what the Autumn and darker nights bring.

As you know, cyclists crossing red lights is a particular bugbear of mine. Earlier this week I was nearly clipped by a cyclist turning right against red lights on Upper Regent Street who promptly abused me for wanting to unreasonably cross the road. What can you say – I was right, he was wrong, but not his fault, guv.

While I’ve been away it’s been heartening to see others starting to take up the cause. It’s good to see that there are those who want to see cycling as part of the solution to London’s transport issues realising that has to mean responsible cycling. We have had a very good programme from the BBC – Routemasters – highlighing some of the issues – and Oympic Gold medalist Laura Trott on the front of the Evening Standard telling us how the behaviour of some of London’s cyclists horrifies her.

But for now let’s return to red lights.
3 on a red
I have a picture for you today of 3 villains crossing on red on Oxford Street. Examine it closely and you will see – neither of the 2 in the junction looking to see what traffic is using the crossing route and also a pedestrian on the far left hand side trying to cross when he should have right of way. When will you learn folks?

Finally – I have a quandary. Should I post the embarassing picture of a well known media type cycling the wrong way along Portobello Road. I don’t know. Guess who and maybe I will.

Friday Madness

Today is a weekend tale. Well, a tale of Friday afternoon which is almost the weekend, especially this time of year. It was a hot afternoon in London yesterday and the general feeling on the streets was good humoured. The streets were packed with tourists going places and Londoners seeking that Friday afternoon beer at an outside table – all of us enjoying the spectacular weather. To  be honest, cyclists and their infractions were the furthest thing from my mind.

But what was this? There was a stir in the dense crowds making their way along Victoria towards the Catholic Cathedral whose plaza was full of picnickers and sunbathers. What could be happening? Was it a swarm of bees? A mad axeman? An especially bad busker? No. It was a chap on a Brompton riding fast on the pavement, weaving in and out of pedestrians, and, in one case, judging from the yelp of pain I heard, over them.

My jaw may actually have dropped. It’s true there were some fairly hideous roadworks in the vicinity which have led to various queues and bus diversions but this was extraordinary. A man riding his bike against the general flow of pedestrian traffic and some speed and appearing not to give two hoots about the dismay or danger he was causing.

Cyclists, I know our roads can be difficult, dusty, sometimes dangerous places to ride. I sympathise, really I do. But if you’re going to decide it’s all too much and come and join us on the pavement (which I absolutely defend your right to do) for heavens sake get off and push.       

Seriously, Why?

This blog has been running for a few months now and you might have thought I’d have run out of things to say. Astonishingly, no. It seems that every day there is a new piece of jaw dropping lunacy that just makes me keep on trucking.

Yesterday’s was a red light crosser. Nothing new in that but as I crossed the road, observing the crossing signals, I saw a cyclist across the junction approaching the red light which should have stopped him from crossing. Traffic was heavy and there were all kinds of vehicles availing themselves of the green light. Our cyclist – helmetless, incidentally – decided to go for it, weaving his way through the traffic, winding in front of no fewer than four cars and lorries, in one case with just inches to spare. There were some beeps, jaws dropping amongst the pedestrians watching the spectacle unfold and a few shocked faces from within the vehicles whose drivers would, no doubt have got the blame for the accident had they hit this lunatic.

And then just this morning I see this.

wrongside

Yep. He’s riding on the wrong side of the road. Up Regent’s Street and this is after several metres in which a car could have emerged from any side street, it’s driver, remarkably, not expecting a cyclist to be riding up a major route the wrong way. He did get off just after this shot was taken though, to ride on the pavement ;-)

So, seriously guys, why do you do it?

Is it that riding in London is so frustrating that you just can’t bear to do it without taking these appalling risks? Is it fun? Is it a challenge? Whatever the motivation, it has to stop as it is selfish, insane and just frightening. I’d suggest if you can’t stay within the rules and have some regard to the safety of other road users you do what is says in the picture. For good.
dismount

For goodness sake!

A sorry tale this morning of no thought for either personal safety or other road users.

Another day on the front seat of the bus. In rush hour, roads are very busy, of course, with the usual mix of road-going craft. Everyone really needs to think about their own safety and being reasonably considerate to other road users to keep the traffic flowing.

So this morning we have a paricuarly considerate bus driver. He has waited for traffic to pass in the opposite direction, leaving space to keep everything flowing; he has already carefully slowed behind cyclists along Praed Street outside Paddington to allow them to progress as we near bus stops rather than pull out and pass and stop in front of them.

We turn right onto the Edgware Road. This is a 4 lane main route (2 in either direction) but not a dual carriageway (there is no median for our American friends). Both lanes heading towards Marble Arch are incredibly busy and there are the usual significant numbers of cyclists. As we approach George Street there is a cyclist ahead going a little more slowly than others but our driver decides he will allow him to progress as we near the bus stop – very considerate.

But………we get slower…….we get slower still……..we are practically crawling but still our driver is being very patient.

Then…….the cyclist stops. Stops completely in the road blocking the carriageway. This must be important. What is is? A mechanical failure? An injury and can’t pedal?

No you guessed didn’t you. You are ahead of me. He is listening to music on his iphone. We have to change tracks!!!!!!!!!

Unbelievable. And on so many fronts. For his personal safety it is madness (he is not wearing a helmet by the way). He is listening to music on a busy road. He cannot hear a thing about what is going on around him. I know this is a contentious point. I know motorists listen to music but with the exception of the odd mobile concert system amplifiers car the volume and indirect means of listening means they can still hear other sounds around them and react to them – emergency vehicles for example or the warning blast of another vehicle. But a cyclist with an enclosed sound system. Lunacy! If our driver had been impatiently hooting he would not have had a clue. If an ambulance was trying to get by he would not have had a clue.

Secondly – in that sound enclosed world how can you possibly consider just stopping. Just coming to a rest. No thought to what is around him and rapidly approaching. He was lucky our bus driver was in a genial mood today.

Finally, the complete lack of consideration for other road users. Is it any wonder motorists get frustrated with cyclists from time to time? Stupidy and lack of self awareness has completely brought to halt a major route into central London at peak time.

Oh and just as a footnote. When he noticed the bus – eventually – he pulled the bike onto the pavement and proceeded to ride along it.

I despair.

Apologies for lack of pictures. I think I was too shocked by this to reach for the camera quickly enough (and video was needed to really capture the tale).

So just for effect an unrelated pavement snap – surprised the wall poster was not a distraction!

pavement

Spot the Cyclist

Rather a paucity of posts recently. Apologies for that, readers, but sometimes work has to come first.

Just occasionally I manage to get a top deck front seat on one of London’s red buses. It’s a great place to watch the world rush around. It’s a particularly good spot to watch everyone bend, twist and break the rules of the road. Everyone does it. Cars, buses, trucks, pedestrians as well as cyclists. It’s a good place to get photos too, if you’re quick enough. You do see some ridiculous manouevres. Taxis do u-turns all over the place, cars make wrong turns, cross lights, pull out in front of buses, pedestrians wander amongst moving traffic. All crazy.

But of course the subject matter here brings the spotlight on cyclists. At almost every junction I will, from this seat, spot cyclists going through red lights but the angle to grab those photos is not great. So today I thought I’d bring you the story of a cyclist with both a personal death wish and a pedestrian targeting plan around the incredibly busy Marble Arch junction at the end of Oxford Street.

Take 1
And this is where spot the cyclist comes in.
IMAG0348

This photo appears at first glance to be just a random shot of a busy junction. But look more closely and you will see a cyclist apparently trying to kill pedestrians. Look more closely still and you can just see the lights on red on the right hand edge of the photo. In fact this cyclist drew up alongside the bus on the left hand side with the lights on red. She proceeded to ride straight across the front of the bus (whose driver would not have seen her had the lights turned green by the way), across the adjacent line of traffic (between which other cyclists could well have ploughed straight through her) and on to weave through the pedestrians on the crossing.

Take 2
IMAG0349

The second photo shows the same cyclist moments later using the pedestrian crossing to ride across the road (pedestrian? ride? what’s wrong here then?). What the photo does not show is that to get that far she has already travelled a few yards on the wrong side of the road against the traffic on possibly the busiest intersection in West London. At least she has a helmet on so it must be ok I guess!

Now look a bit deeper into the photo. In the distance you will see a second cyclist travelling at right angles across the road. Note that this is the middle of the gyratory and there is every expectation that vehicles will be approaching at speed!

What to Do?

Now that 2wheelsbad has been going for a month, I expect you’re wondering, amidst all the problems I pose, what my solution or solutions might be. Well I’m glad you asked. Because apart from simply wanting safer behaviour and more considerate behaviour from the cyclists who don’t display it, I would like to suggest the following (and before anyone gets uppity, remember this isn’t a non cyclist or an anti cyclist speaking. I’m a cyclist myself – albeit not a commuter and not every day – and these ideas simply feel like common sense to me).

1. Stop the leniency currently displayed around cycle related offences. I know there’s the whole encouraging cycling argument but the simple fact is that bending the rules for cyclists encourages BAD cycling and that’s no good for anyone. If cyclists receive equitable treatment in the eyes of the law they will be less likely to offend or behave dangerously.

2. This one is controversial, but for cyclists who are caught breaking the law, compulsory training along the lines of the ‘speed check’ classes that speeding motorists can opt for. There’s nothing like being faced with the reality of what dangerous behaviour can do to make you think twice before blasting across that red light junction or cutting in front of a bus to mount the pavement.

3. Compulsory bike helmets. I can’t see on what planet this doesn’t make sense.

All I’m after is to get the minority of dangerous and inconsiderate cyclists to ride more sensibly. Then we can all enjoy what is a fantastic mode of transport, which should, like this chap I snapped this morning carrying, inexplicably, a giant unicycle, bring a smile to all our faces.

IMAG0347 cropped

Time Challenge

I set myself a challenge this morning. How many cycling infractions could I spot on my 7 minute walk from the bus to the office? It’s often said, fairly I think, that most cyclists are law abiding so I was interested to see, on an average morning walk during which I’ll probably encounter around 40 cyclists, how many displayed illegal or dangerous behaviour.

Minute 1 – off the bus and immediately a cycle swerves onto the pavement in front of me. Not especially dangerous – we were both looking where we were going. Possibly nothing to get aerated about but still not legal (and the one I saw the day before where a bike swooped in front of a bus, missing it by inches and mounting the kerb at speed, scattering pedestrians, was much worse).

pavement

Minute 2 – a spot more pavement riding from someone down a side street. Again not especially bothersome but why do it? It was quiet on the road and there was no reason I could see to be on the footway.

Minute 3 – uneventful.

Minute 4 – extraordinary. Never seen this before. Someone on a Boris bike riding along the central reseveration before dapping out into traffic at an acute angle and at speed. Also one of the speediest red light jumpers I have ever seen barrels across a junction.

res

Minute 5 – at a busy junction I see a group of cyclists queueing absolutely correctly behind the line and then moving off when the lights go green. By contrast, two have crossed over the crossing and are in ‘no man’s land’ between the other side of the crossing and the yellow cross hatches. Instead of waiting for the lights they shoot across on red the minute they see a gap. Unfortuantely a cyclist is coming the other way on green and there is a moment where distaster looks iminent when they have to swerve around each other. Luckily there’s no contact.

lights

Minute 6 – uneventful (and I’m distracted by getting coffee).

Minute 7 – a couple of cyclists are a bit lairy on the pedestrian crossing outside the office, bombing over when there are pedestrians already crossing but that’s pretty much par for the course (although it shouldn’t be of course).

So. It’s a fairly significant rate of transgression. Out of an estimated 40 cyclists, I see 8 – or 20% doing things which could potentially be seen as anti-social, two that were obviously reckless and one that caused a very near miss.