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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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.

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Excuses, excuses

I’ll start again with the assertion that I really like cycling and I like most cyclists I meet. I cycle out of town for the most part and I rarely encounter problems with other cyclists or other road users apart from a few cars who come too close on country lanes. I ride with caution and courtesy and things rub along just fine.

Things are very different in the city and it’s London that worries me most. I started this blog after several narrow escapes in which careless or reckless bikes came very close to injuring me. What stuns me is how glibly the cycle lobby dismisses this. Of course the stats are clear – fewer people are killed by cyclists than cars for all kinds of reasons – but is that all we care about? Isn’t one death one too many? Especially when you consider that to kill someone while riding a bike you’d have to be riding pretty fast and in all likelihood, somewhat recklessly. And there are plenty of injuries not to mention the unpleasantness of having to worry about being hit by a renegade cyclist when you are using the road as a pedestrian. This blog is not anti-cyclist. It’s anti the cyclists who make us all look at bikes riding around us in the city with wariness, suspicion and anxiety because of the actions of what I still fervently believe is a minority.

What disturbs me most is what appears to be a growing view that cyclists are above the law. In one of the many cycling blogs online, this one based around Cambridge, I found this comment about a police campaign to stop cyclists riding without lights.

“One person I spoke to did get caught, but she just went out and bought a new set of lights the following morning, popped to the police station and the ticket was cancelled immediately.”

And if you think that’s staggering, try this:

Wow. Can you imagine any other kind of law breaker being treated like this? And when one of Britain’s most respected specialist cyclist publications appears to reject even demonstrably dangerous cyclists being responsible for their actions I honestly despair.

I know that the cycle lobby will argue that cyclists need to be encouraged but countering any reasonable complaints about anti social cycling with hyperbolic headline statements like this (in an otherwise excellent and very level headed post, I should add) is going to win you few friends. I am astounded that the positive encouragement for cycling has in some cases become twisted into allowing people who actively and knowingly break the law do so with apparent impunity and I can’t see how this benefits any of us.

And it’s going to get worse. Boris Johnson’s cycling manifesto for London is a joyous document full of positivity and a vision for safer more pleasurable use of the ‘Johnson velocipede’ BUT if he’s going, as he says he wants to, to vastly increase the number of cyclists in the capital, and, double the money spent on cycling, he’d better hope some of them start behaving better.

Red light spells…danger

Here’s one of my biggest bugbears. The red light jumper. Now I know that if you write anything like this on any of the myriad cycling blogs that are temples to the lycra clad you get an immediate response saying that motorists jump red lights too. It’s true, they do. I’ve seen it on LOTS of occasions. BUT generally speaking, they tend to be last minute chancers, amber gamblers and yes it’s a pain and yes it’s just as wrong as any other bit of road law breaking.

But what gets me about the cyclist red light jumpers is the fact that I will often see them act as if the light simply doesn’t exist. Everyone stopped for some reason? Excellent! I’ll shoot through at warp speed. Once again, it’s the fact that this is or at least should be unexpected that makes it so bloody dangerous.redlight

When I was crossing with a green man on the signal in central London last week a cyclist shot out of the road oppposite, dinged his bell furiously at me as if I was the one in the wrong and disappeared shouting ‘f**ing watch out!’. Lovely. I wasn’t texting. I wasn’t distracted. I wasn’t doing anything except crossing a road in a place I was perfectly entitled to. It’s NOT on, cyclists. Stop doing it.

Let’s start here

Ok. I hope you liked my opening post. I’m pretty much a blogging virgin but thought it was about time I dipped my toe in the water – or put my foot on the crossing perhaps.

A fitting metaphor, I think, because today’s subject is a regular type of idiot. That`s right, the one who thinks it`s just fine to cycle across a zebra crossing at maybe 25mph with no thought about who is walking quite innocently across. I suppose it’s a small comfort that at least there was no other traffic around when I saw this because when 4 wheeled vehicles have politely stopped and a cyclist zooms across on the inside that`s when it really gets dangerous.
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I know this blog will be dedicated to all forms of 2 wheeled lunacy and in most cases that concerns a 2 wheeled idiot risking taking on a car, or worse, a bus or a truck. But on a crossing the risk is very much bike v pedestrian and we all know who’s coming off worse there!

So. Hey! You want to kill yourself by tangling with cars go ahead. Messy and unnecessary and grist to my mill here but it’s the minority idiot at fault again. Take me on at a crossing, though, thats`s different. That’s threatening my safety. I’m gonna get ya, if only in words.

So please STOP. IT`S THE LAW AND IT APPLIES TO YOU TOO. And not only that; it really is the responsible thing to do. For you, for me and for the majority of your fellow cyclists who DO know how to behave.

This is 2wheels bad – welcome

Hello and welcome to 2wheelsbad

London. Got to love it. Got to love the way we all get around, making short work of the chaos of an overcrowded city. Tube, bus, taxi, some even persist, for reasons best known to themselves, with the car. But I’m sure you’ve noticed, as have I, the huge growth in 2 wheel transport. Motorbikes, yes, but particularly bikes. Everyday the numbers seem to grow wherever you look. Every junction at rush hour is packed with bikes waiting to set off, every bus lane a maze of buses avoiding bikes, Boris bikes, racing bikes, shopping bikes.

All very good. All very green. But I want to add to the debate about the minority of cyclists who believe they own London, the whole of London, the roads, the pavements: no laws for them. We know its a minority but they sure give the rest a bad name.

I’m fed up of stepping onto a pedestrian crossing to be mown down by a bike that doesn’t believe stop means them. I’m fed up of waiting for traffic lights to change to cross the road, only to find my way across blocked by bikes who don’t know where to stop or those that don’t bother. I’m fed up with bikes bearing down on me on the pavement because the road is one way – the other way!

THE LAW IS FOR YOU TOO.

So this blog is dedicated to what cyclists do wrong. We will shame where we can. We will capture their photos and you can see them put ours, yours, their own lives on the line.

Today, though, we will start with the environment. A study below and captured on our blog page background in how to ruin a listed building.

Look out for more.

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