On your bike

Cyclists on the road have long been a contentious issue for drivers. Many drivers argue that they slow down traffic and don’t pay any road tax. Meanwhile, cyclists argue that not enough care is taken by drivers to maintain safe roads and that they are often the victims of accidents in which they come off much worse.

The issue seems to be that they are very much in limbo. They are road users in many aspects, but then they are also similar to pedestrians in many ways (so in some aspects, pedestrians are road users also).

Traffic lights are a very good example of this. I would say the majority of cyclists I see on the roads, that is to say at least over 50% of them, do not pay attention to traffic lights. They ride straight through them or sometimes mount the pavement in order to avoid them if you would go as far as to describing it as that.

My problem with this is that you can’t expect to be treated as a valid road user, if you’re going to jump red lights.

First of all, it isn’t safe. You can make the argument that it is safe because obviously a cyclist wouldn’t jump a red light when there was someone crossing but if you’re going to make this argument there is no reason why cars should still be restricted to stopping for red lights – after all, we promise to check if there are people on the crossing. Obviously, this would end badly. Why? Because it’s just not safe to let people jump red lights, whoever they are (including emergency vehicles, but there are greater risk of not stopping).

Secondly, it creates a separation between cars and bikes. If we’re going to maintain that cyclists are full road users who deserve just as much respect as drivers, then they need to be held to the same standards as cars and motorbikes – if you say “the law doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have an engine”, you’re unlikely to be granted the respect you are looking for either.

As a society, we need to make the roads safer for cyclists – and that is only going to happen when drivers change their attitude towards cyclists. But, when the majority of cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road, can we really blame drivers for not giving them that respect?



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This entry was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 3:40 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.