It’s time to put brakes on antisocial cyclists

I WAS thinking the other day – what is it that stops some cyclists growing up? This crossed my mind after being sliced up while walking along a pavement designed for pedestrians by an adult on a bicycle, for whom the road was evidently a wee bit on the grown-up side.

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Published January 9, 2007 by Edinburgh Evening News
By BRIAN HENNIGAN

Scotland — I WAS thinking the other day – what is it that stops some cyclists growing up? This crossed my mind after being sliced up while walking along a pavement designed for pedestrians by an adult on a bicycle, for whom the road was evidently a wee bit on the grown-up side.

Before I begin my assault on two-wheeled idiots, let me get my credentials in order. As some readers might recall, I am no fan of cars in the city; I am pro-cycling. I want more cycling in and around Edinburgh. I would like nothing better than an enormous network of cycling lanes going here, there and everywhere, yes even unto Asda.

Every major company should be compelled to provide storage facilities for all their employees who wish to cycle. The lack of a comprehensive infrastructure to help cyclists is laughable.

The provisions for cycles to be stored on trains and on buses – as they so easily are all over the world – is a joke. One can only hope that Edinburgh's proposed new tram system allows for the transportation of bicycles.

Having established that I am not one of those lunatic motorists who view cyclists as being pigeons with wheels, let me continue to rant against those too-many cyclists who seem to think that by virtue of using a form of transportation that is green, they are somehow excused consideration for others.

There is only one reason to be cycling on a pavement: you are a little child who needs adult accompaniment. All other cyclists should be on the road where they belong. If for some reason your traffic lane is congested and you are unable to make progress, tough. It is not acceptable to simply mount the pavement and continue as if you have been in some way sinned against. If you don't have stabilisers on, the road is the only place we should find you whizzing along.

Here is another fact that some cyclists will find shocking: those funny lights that you sometimes see at the junctions of roads apply to both cars AND bicycles. Red means stop. Red does not mean pedal smugly across thinking no-one can see you. Apart from anything else, your invisibility to other road-users might just be proven in a way you did not envisage.

While we are on the subject of meanings, No Cycling signs mean that there should be no cycling. It might seem cute for you to zoom across the Meadows the wrong way, but one day someone is going to get fed-up with your selfish behaviour and you will be amazed how far you can travel without a bicycle when someone jams a stick in your rear-wheel.

Occasionally cyclists are so stupid and selfish it makes you wonder if the wind has somehow whistled through their ears too quickly and sucked their brains out. Cycling without lights at night is not some environmentally courageous way of showing how you and the owls are as one; it's a way of being on a bicycle that says: "I don't care about anyone else other than myself. If some elderly person or small child crossing the road can't see me – hard cheese on them. I am on a bicycle and don't care."

What makes all of the above modes of behaviour inexplicable is that so many cyclists like to ride around as if they have some sort of cloak of environmental awareness flying behind them. Any degree of environmental awareness must take into account the welfare of your fellow citizens.

Rant almost over, but I couldn't possibly sign off without mentioning helmets. Anyone who thinks pedalling au naturale is fine deserves whatever non-indicating delivery van might lie in their future.

Let's just call it Darwinism – anyone who believes they can do without a helmet probably isn't a useful addition to the gene pool. All that remains is to find a way of billing those who don't wear helmets for any hospital-based repairs that are necessary as a result of their recklessness.

I want cycling to be the future, but I want selfish and/or stupid cyclists to become a thing of the past.