One bad apple spoils the whole lot, so they say, and the same applies to the reputation of cyclists in London. Where most cyclists obey the Highway Code and don’t jump lights, ride onto pavements, kick cars or break the speed limit; the few who do give cyclists in London a very bad name!
Tour de France winner and Rio Olympics competitor Bradley Wiggins has stepped into the cycling safety debate by calling on cyclists to clean up their act. Wiggo said, “New cycle lanes are great but you always get cyclists who give a bad name to the rest; people who jump the kerbs, jump red lights and ride around with iPods so you can’t hear the rest of the traffic.”
Cycling at speed around the city, while for some feel it is safer, can be very dangerous to other road users. Last week, a woman was killed when a cyclist hit her on a busy street, though there is no suggestion that the cyclist was breaking the law when the accident happened. A witness who saw the collision said “the cyclist was so distressed and in such a bad way. He would have been going quite fast. It was just the timing, if it was half a second later or earlier she wouldn’t have died, I don’t think.”
Wiggo said that all road users need to be aware of each other, whether HGVs turning at a junction, cyclists blasting through the traffic or pedestrians crossing the road. He added, “We are seeing a boom in cycling but it’s how we all coexist that is important. Cyclists have to help themselves by behaving.”
He pointed out that in cycling fatalities it often takes two to tango. If you jump a red do you think a HGV driver wants to kill you? The driver will get a kicking in the press yet it may well have been your fault in the first place. “Traffic lights are there for a reason. Jumping traffic lights … you get run over by traffic coming the other way. The next morning that’s another cyclist that’s died,” he added.
One thing that would irritate every cyclist on the road is the prospect of police and other authorities clamping down on bad behaviour on London’s roads. This is a real possibility if the bad apples of the cycling community continue to take the mickey out of the Highway Code. Wiggins pointed out, “Enforcement is inevitable if it starts to get out of control.” Australia has recently brought in tough new laws for jumping red lights, holding onto vehicles, cycling at night without lights or not stopping at pedestrian crossings. If the media gets a bee in its bonnet about cyclists’ bad behaviour this may well happen in the UK, and no one wants to see that!