Concerned Londoner

I've just recently joined this group.  I consider myself pro-cycling, but am strapping on my armour because of what I am about to say.

It seems to me that making London safe for cyclists is important, as is ensuring that all road users are responsible, respectful and importantly accountable for their actions.

I am appalled at a lot of what I see bad motorists with bad attitudes do, and the compromised cyclist safety that this causes.

I also see, on a daily basis, at least an equal number of cyclists with bad attitudes doing things that are just as stupid, dangerous and antisocial. Some of them wearing cameras to record others' actions!

I know that the debate about taxing/licensing/insuring cyclists is ongoing.  As somone looking at it from the "outside," it seems that cyclists seem to want to enjoy all of the benefits of road use but want none of the responsibility or accountability.

I have twice been a victim of injury and property damage by cyclists, both of whom were at fault according to themselves and witnesses - yet in neither case was I able to get compensation.  Many of my friends, some of whom are also cyclists, feel that the pro-cycling lobby have become militant and dare I say sanctmonious; the words hypocritical and arrogant seem to come up time and again in these discussions.

I appreciate that the majority of cyclists are law-abiding people with good perspectives and attitudes, but the aggressive vocal minority could actually be doing your cause a disservice and turning public opinion against what you want to achieve.

I'd like to see more peer-to-peer pressure by cyclists, for cyclists, when they misbehave - rather than the "pack mentalioty" that seems to set in on London's roads.

 

Replies

  • By JHW at 10:57am 15 April 2012
Dear balancedview,

Very hard to disagree with much of what you say.

I have been out collecting signatures for the Go Dutch campaign in the last couple of weeks. I have concentrated on non-cyclists (or at least those who did not appear to be).

The poor behaviour of the cycling community both as actual road users and in their general attitude to others has been a recurring theme with those to whom I have spoken.

Some people have actually refused to sign on the basis of their previous dealings with cyclists'.

We as cyclists are a small (tiny) minority and if we are to gain improvements in our conditions then we need to to tap in to the goodwill of the silent majority. Something that we are not doing terribly well at the moment.

TyT

This post was edited by JHW at 11:02am 15 April 2012.

I agree entirely with this post. I was on a cycling course on Saturday with Instructors who came from Manchester. Obviuosly they teach follow the highway code which if everyone did then cyclists wouldn't get a bad name.

She said she stopped at a red light and got shouted at by another cyclists for stopping and getting in their way. How bad is that?

It is true that some cyclists ride irresponsibly and give cycling a bad name. However it is also true that some motorists exceed speed limits, use mobile phones when driving or pass dangerously close to cyclists when overtaking. Sometimes pedestrians put cyclists in danger by suddenly stepping out into the road in front of them.

Dangerous behaviour by a cyclist or any other road user is not acceptable.

However, road designs that are safe and convenient for cycling will reduce the incentive for cyclists to break the rules. For example, if green traffic lights at junctions give genuinely safe passage (without the risk of being overtaken aggressively or crushed by a left-turning lorry), cyclists will not feel the need to cross on the red light.

Like the earlier comments I also agree with you on some points. I do however disagree with anoopshah.

I don't believe for one minute the cyclist ride through Red lights because they feel “unsafe” stopping. I believe simple arrogance is the reason for not stopping and the need to get to their destination 30 seconds earlier.

This post was edited by Wesselwookie at 8:02am 20 April 2012.

Dear Balancedview & others,

I feel the issues are becoming crossed here. LCC is a charity campaigning for better and safer cycling conditions in London. They do not represent all cyclists or Londoners. They (not me, I am just a member) are not a voice for dangerous/illegal or anti-social cyclists. Why are you confusing campaigns  with illegal activity? We don't stop building roads despite the thousands of deaths that occur due to illegal driving annually.

Whilst I sympathise towards your personal accounts, they are just that. The evidence suggests otherwise, remember: 99.7% of those killed on the roads are killed by motorised transport.

The idea that 'cyclist have to get their house in order' before safe infrastructure is built is I'm afraid a load of crap. If we want to reduce congestion, reduce air pollution, reduce obesity in children, reduce our dependence on oil- then we need to start thinking bike. LCC is leading this issue, but really our elected officials should have taken this on years ago.

Regards,

 

Jono

 

 

 

 

I agree entirely with the sentiments being expressed in this thread (and I'm a cyclist who doesn't own a car). LCC all too frequently sound "holy than thou" preaching at drivers and town planners, when it is the cyclists who are jumping red lights and undertaking lorries.  It is a bit like the catholic church trying to take the moral highground - those outside the church have probably stopped listening. 

I agree with Jono, that cyclists shouldn't have to get their house in order for safe infrastructure to be built, but the facts of life and politics are that you have to win people over to your argument. When a car driver cuts me up and I point it out to them, all too often I get responses like "you lot are like flies, cutting through the traffic, you should get off the road!". I have to half agree with the driver but point out that I wasn't cycling like that, so don't tar me with the same brush!

Also, how often are the incidents we hear about a result of some cyclist making some stupid move? We shouldn't be getting into a blame game, but I'm often left thinking (given what I see everyday cycling on the streets) that it is at least even odds it was the cyclist who was at fault rather than the driver or the road system. 

I think LCC campaigns need to be rebalanced if they are have a strong voice in the future. 

 

Stephen,

 

I suggest you read the court reports of those recently killed on our roads. http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/causing-death-by-careless-driving-some.html

Of the 11 cyclists killed in London in 2010, only 1 was found to be in anyway at fault for their death. Talk of 'preaching' is unfair, and smacks of victim blaming.You mention winning an argument. Which argument?

Cyclists in other countries are given safe space to cycle. That is what LCC is campaining for.

Jono

 

People who join a cycling forum for no other reason than to complain about cyclists are pathetic individuals who aren't worth giving the time of day

especially when they give themselves laughable names such as 'balanced view'

'uninformed troll' would be more accurate

let's all just move on ... there's nothing to see here

Jono - LCC are campaigning for cyclists. The majority of Londoner's do not cycle, so there is a challenge to convince those that don't that either they should cycle, or they shouldn't run over cyclists if they drive. It is hard to win these people over and argue for funding for various cycle schemes without challenging the public perception of cycling in London.  It is the non-cycling public who will either pay for these schemes or at least vote for the people who will decide on them. If their perception is of reckless cyclists (based on what we all see on the roads each day in London) then, regardless of how the statistics actually pan out, we're losing the argument. The irony is, that the ghost cycles has prompted plenty of non-cycling friends to make comments to me along the lines of "cyclists are always jumping the lights at that junction, it was inevitable that one would get killed before too long".  Having statistics that challenge this perception is not as effective as getting the cyclists to improve. Talking to motorists in traffic who have just done something stupid to endanger me tends to prompt them to reveal their views of cyclists (perhaps with more colourful language). Pointing out to them that "I was cycling properly, so why should you drive like that by me?" does not win the argument. They just tar us all with the same brush.  And then it leads to even more stupid comments from people like Mr Addison Lee. If you read past his idiotic phrasing the general points he is making match the views that I think a lot of motorists sadly hold.

As for JimmyJustice - it is a shame that you criticise anyone on here who points out that cyclists in London do not have a great reputation with much of the public. It emphasises my point that some of the campaigning in respect of cycling comes across as sanctimonious and a little hypocritical at times. 

I'm with the thread - got back on my bike today (after injury & cold weather and to avoid any delays due to striking Tube workers) and found that the idiots are still out there, jumping the lights and weaving around pedestrians crossing on green.

Don't these people ever walk themselves ?

Obviously many of them don't drive - or they'd be a bit more "aware" of not causing confusion on the road  by acting in unpredicatble ways.

I think we can all guess what type of cyclist "Jimmy Justice" is - the sort we all have to avoid - whether on foot, bike or car !

"there is a challenge to convince those that don't that either they should cycle, or they shouldn't run over cyclists if they drive"

 

This second part of this beggars all belief! We have to convince people not to kill us?

Jimmy Justice (laughable name? There's our clue) appears to be the exact demographic damaging your reputation and your cause. I'm gratified by the rest of the responses and their sentiment.

I'm off to collect some tolls from under my bridge now...

The clue's in the (laughable?) name, Jimmy Justice.  Thanks all of the rest of you for your informed commentary.

Back to my cave now, the sun's coming out ...

  • By Austen at 6:42pm 28 April 2012

I think the issue here is that the misbehaviour of some cyclists is held up as representative of all people who cycle.

The same logic is applied by people who are racist or Islamophobic.

That's not to say that people who cycle irresponsibly or illegally don't attract legitimate criticism.  It would be better for all of us if they showed respect for other road users, regardless of mode of transport.

However, I don't see motorists putting peer pressure on their fellow drivers to not run red lights, break the speed limit, park illegally, block cycle lanes, ignore pedestrians waiting at zebra crossings, stop in ASLs, use hand-held mobile phones, drive while drunk or stoned or cut up other road users.

I don't drive - but those of you that do could start a Campaign for Responsible Motoring, pledging not to do the above while behind the wheel.

 

The last time I cycled in London, I was roundly abused by another cyclist at the Oval, for going through a green light when I had right of way. He'd jumped the red from the other direction and had assumed that because there was no traffic, except me, he'd got priority. These days I'm more of a pedestrian in London and can also see the problems caused by kamikazee riders. But are they representative of people who cycle any more than the idiot driving round a roundabout one-handed while taking a call on a mobile phone is representative of everyone who drives?

There's a dominant narrative in our culture that is fundamentally anti-cycling. And it's largely perpetrated by middle aged, very right wing males whose identity, status and territorial ambitions are derived from driving large cars and behaving aggressively on the roads to anyone they identify as of a lesser status or as potential competition. It might be a coincidence, but they are more or less the same demographic that often dominates in media, politics, the cab trade, traffic engineering and the police. So he who controls the agenda, also controls the story. Yet when you have a road system that has been designed, largely for speeding motor traffic and a highway code that has reinforced the idea of submissive riding, it's not surprising that non-conformists (for that is what cyclists in the UK are at present) increasingly treat the traffic system and those who dominate it (i.e. the cars), with disregard. And then take matters into their own hands by riding in a way that makes them feel safe, even if it's contemptuous of other road users.

In my opinion, there are two ways to respond to this as a campaigning organisation. One is to adopt the submissive approach like the little vulnerable road users that we are and say, "Oh yes, we must get our house in order first", as one particularly intransigent copper once said to me. But that will get us nowhere since our society and political class only take notice of strength. The other is to say that we're here, in numbers, and we're not backing down or going away until an equitable solution is reached. A comparison might be made with gay rights. You can either take the gang beating that you are targetted for and slip away crying or you can organise gay pride marches and say tough, we're here and we're queer so get used to it bully boys.

Little by little there is change. Not as much or as fast as I would like but it is happening. It helps that some of the right wing media has changed its tune completely, now that a series of fine, upstanding, influential and in no way threatening people have been hurt or killed by simply riding a bicycle on London's roads. So the LCC, while always promoting positive, courteous behaviour on the roads, needs to stand strong and not be diverted into the narrative that some would like to impose on us, defined by perceptions of power and submission, freedom and constraint, money and dominance.

  • By A-C at 9:12pm 2 May 2012

I agree with the last post. I cycle responsibly and I don't have to answer for those who don't. I still deserve safe roads despite the fact that some people are ignorant.

People might think it's sanctimonius, but fighting to make cycling safe is part of saving the planet, we need more cycling and less car driving. The car drivers (of which I am one) might not like it, but we still need to do it. Standing up and being counted is the only way to do this.

Apologies for all the typos, I broke a bone slipping on the blue paint on a CSH and my pot keeps getting in the way of the keyboard. Stupid Boris and his stupid blue paint.

This content was deleted by antfrogboy at 7:58pm 2 June 2012.

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