04 December 2009

Keep death off the roads. Drive on the pavement

The Indie's article yesterday (on how cyclists are three times as likely to die on the roads in the UK as abroad) ended up as a comments pillow fight about pavement cycling. (Thanks to those who made sensible, considered contributions - you know who you are.)

It's the way of things these days. You can't go to any sort of meeting involving the most tangential reference to bikes without being buttonholed by some mad person when they see you're a cyclist. Often, though not always, it's a 50something woman with a 'now listen to me because my feelings are more important than everyone else's' expression. And they bang on about pavement cycling like it's anthrax or a dirty bomb or Bhopal or something. They were nearly killed by a pavement cyclist the other day and it's your fault and what are you going to do about it?

You try to explain, carefully and reasonably, that the problem is vastly overhyped. That on average one person is killed from pavement-cycling incidents every four years (possibly the cyclist) but 40 pedestrians are killed by cars every year so that's clearly the much bigger problem. (Such as this astonishing footage from the BBC website yesterday. Why isn't your silly buttonholer taking this up instead?) That there are already laws about dangerous yob cycling and that should be tackled through normal policing but sensible shared-use has to be encouraged because London's transport infrastructure won't cope otherwise.

But that doesn't shut them up. All they do is then drone on about licensing bikes, and how that'd stop it, just as licensing motor vehicles has put to a stop to all car accidents.

Bah. All very depressing. The whole pavement-cycling issue is like complaining about mobile phone loudmouths on trains was ten years ago: it's not dangerous, it's just annoying. But it's become the reason du jour for pompous people to whinge.


  1. With the increase of shared use paths and the roads becoming ever more conjested this problem will only continue to grow.

    Virtually all the cyclists I see while commuting ride along the pavement. Its very rare that they use the road. I don't blame them for not using the road; at rush hour the roads are are BUSY and dangerous.

    The cyclists don't use the cyclepaths either. Again, I don't blame them. The cyclepaths around here are FULL of glass, dog muck and styles that you have to get off and lift the bike through.

    It seems the only 'safe' way to commute by bike without having to get off every two seconds is by using the footpath!

  2. If people don't like cyclists riding on the pavement, could they please stop putting shared use paths everywhere? When they suddenly end, you find yourself cruising along the pavement, unsure as to whether you're supposed to be there or not. Additionally, they get cyclists used to riding on the pavement rather than the road.

    It's like the people who complain about cyclists who undertake: If cycle lanes are painted down the left side of all the roads, it shouldn't surprise you when you get passed by a bike on the left.

  3. Pretty much any cycling safety story on a newspaper website fill up with vitriolic comments from people who obviously don't cycle. Its no use trying to have a reasoned debate with them, they will always respond with "well yesterday I saw.......".
    They must have cycling on a Google alert or something similar.

  4. I live in London (not far from Rob I think) and most of the pavement cyclists are teenagers and old women. Neither are going at much speed above a walk.
    When I cycle into work or anywhere on a main road it would be so much slower and more difficult on the pavement.
    Despite all the myths spouted most commuter cyclist are on the road, stop at red lights, have lights at night and are very aware of their surrondings.
    Today I even got hooted at by a white van for not jumping a red light (maybe he wanted to jump it).

  5. We've had just about the opposite over here recently. Cars have been banned from stopping near schools.

    Oh, and here the commuters all use the cycle paths. They're more direct and have a smoother surface than the roads, and they have priority over the roads where cycle paths and roads cross. It'd be very silly to use the road if you wanted to get anywhere in a hurry.