Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Pavement Cycling - Right or Wrong?
Thinking About Cycling calls us Heroes of British Cycling. Yes I say us, because I am a pavement cyclist. I am just learning to ride a two wheeler and I am determined to stick to pavements apart from really quiet residential streets. Even with my trike there are many times that I simply have to pavement cycle to stay safe.
The first thing I said to my eldest Granddaughter on buying her a bike (which she desperately wanted) a couple of years ago for her 18th birthday was "Stick to the pavements" along with advice on not cycling too fast and giving way to pedestrians at all times, etc. etc.
My Daughter had freaked out at me buying her Daughter a cycle, and said to me, "If she gets killed it will be on your head". My Daughter was forcing my GD to learn to drive because "She would be safer driving".
My Daughter said to me only a couple of weeks ago, "I am going to get fit - I'm going to swim once a week, go on long walks, and cycle 5 miles every day" - My face lit up at the mention of her cycling. Before I could say anything she said "I don't mean cycling on the roads I mean in my bedroom". The bedroom is where she keeps her exercise bike. She is only 42 years old, there are two cycles in her garage, and yet she is too scared to ride one on our roads.
People that don't cycle really are terrified to even contemplate it, because they see, and quite rightly so, that one is taking their life in their hands at getting on a bike. It's no good experienced cyclists continually decrying that cycling is safe in this country. It isn't!
Pavement cycling, I think, all comes down to common sense and there are many variables. Area, the speed one cycles at, width of the pavement, volume of pedestrianised traffic, etc.
I have noticed that most cycle bloggers are all London or other big city bloggers. Cities are only a small amount of the UK. Cycling in the city is totally different to cycling in the country and therefore I don't think there should be a blanket ban of pavement cycling in the whole of the country.
We have really fast A roads, duel carriage ways, By passes and some massively large dangerous roundabouts. Country lanes are only wide enough for one car and yet the national speed limit of 60pmh exists on those.
On most of our through roads one very seldom passes a pedestrian. The pavements are like ornaments sitting at the side of the road. Because of this the police turn a blind eye when seeing a pavement cyclist as long as it's not in a heavily pedestrianised area. Pedestrians do not get angry at having to pass a cyclist on the pavement and there are very few "near misses" of pedestrian/cyclist. No ringing of bells to get out of the way, just a pleasant excuse me, or more often the pedestrian senses a cycle coming and just moves over. We mostly all share quite happily.
Most of those that are experienced cyclists and cycle to and fro work do not pedal furiously trying to keep up with traffic as cyclists seem to in London. They keep their legs moving in a steady motion in whatever gear is needed at that point on the road (very much the Dutch style of riding), never breaking out in a sweat. If traffic stops, they hop up on the pavement and continue riding steadily. And yes, they also jump red traffic lights by hopping onto the pavement and cycling across along side pedestrians.
There is far less friction down here between cyclist and pedestrian than there is between cyclist and motorist. Motorists get up tight if cycles hold them up in a lane. Get agitated if they see a cyclist avoiding the red light by becoming a pavement cyclist whilst crossing the road. Furious if they have to pass 2 abreast cyclists on the road, offensively shouting "Single file" - obviously they haven't read the highway code.
When on a pavement I cycle no more than 4 - 5mph. Mobility scooters are allowed to travel at 4mph. Therefore when on a pavement I am only breaking the one law not two. The law could be change to allow cycles at 4 mph.
Give Way at all times to pedestrians: On non set out shared pavements this could also be written into the highway code as a "must".
Instead of having a blanket law of "No cycling on pavements" - "No Cycling" signs could be erected where there are high volumes of pedestrians such as in town centres.
I honestly believe, that while we are waiting for a real cycling infrastructure, if more of us broke the law and pavement cycled, not only would more people get on their bike as they see others do it, but the government then would move faster on implementing a good cycling infrastructure. All the time cyclists are willing, and even in some cases fighting to stay on the road, it is seen as our country not having a problem with the lack of cycling facilities we have now. They would certainly see a problem with hundreds, if not thousands of cyclists on pavements.
If only London and other big city cyclists would start riding the pavements en-mass, rather than fighting to stay on the roads! Sadly city cyclists only seem to have an interest in keeping "the right to the road" for the young, fit, healthy, and brave.