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.       

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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