War on Cyclists

26 May, 2013 | EnvironmentPoliticsTravelTdp

It was this time last year that I wrote about how cyclists got on my nerves (sometimes), but that it wasn't really their fault. So this BBC headline naturally grabbed my attention: Why the war between motorists and cyclists?

Whether you cycle or not, this quote should raise your temper:

Toby Hockley was on the 100-mile Boudicca Sportive ride in Norfolk when he says he was struck by a car and flung into a hedge. The driver didn't stop. Hockley emerged from the hedge, sore but intact.

It sounds like a run-of-the-mill depressing incident from the UK's roads. But the shocking part came later.

A young woman tweeted: "Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way - he doesn't even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists."

Summer has sort of made an appearance, so the number of cyclists on the road has suddenly multiplied. The fact that they're on the road rather than on the cycle paths (round my way) does get my goat, but as I've already said, cycle paths are too few and too disconnected to be much use.

To give them some credit, I occasionally get on my bike, though rarely going far, and you've got to have some nerve to go on the road, never mind some of the windy lanes we have the UK.

The issues aren't going away though. It's interesting that Bristol was named Britain's first cycling city nearly five years ago. What's happened since then? We've had endless roadworks around our way this year, but nobody seems to be making any changes to the footpaths to encourage cyclists to use them, let along encourage more. (To be fair, they have just built a new footpath near me, but it doesn't link up with anything useful so it's almost a waste of time.)

We've got CO2 targets to meet, growing obesity and rising healthcare costs. Surely the government should be finding something in their budgets to do more than encourage people to risk their lives, even if budgets are stretched? At the moment health and cycling accidents kill more people than nuclear weapons or military threats (on our shores), yet we're prepared to spend billions on missiles and aircraft carriers (not saying we shouldn't). I think we need to prioritise the threats to our society.