Did you watch the Tonight programme about cycling on Friday evening?
By chance I had already finished a piece on this very subject. And I saw nothing on the programme to alter my opinion. So I’ll present it unaltered.
The government want us all to start using push bikes whenever possible. And to encourage us two new laws are being considered.
One is that cyclists be allowed to go the wrong way up one way streets if they want. Pretty much on the principle, that’s what they do anyway.
And the other is that in any accident involving a car and a bike, the car will automatically be judged as the one at fault.
As a motorcyclist who cannot remember how long ago he sold his last car, I can be expected to be in favour. After all, no cyclist has ever impeded my progress, whereas I’ve experienced plenty of apparently murderous car drivers in my time. As I have since becoming a part-time cyclist myself.
But I am not in favour. Not at all. Despite having been myself barged off the road – quite deliberately I am convinced – by a car – and with quite serious consequences resulting for me.
And the reason is the Englishman’s built-in determination to assert his rights no matter what the consequences.
We have all, I think, experienced the pedestrian who steps on to a crossing regardless of oncoming traffic, apparently smugly confident the driver who hits him will be severely punished should he be injured or killed.
And anyone driving in town will know the cyclist who ignores red lights, overtakes on either side of the traffic stream – and darts from one to the other without warning, U-turns and mounts pavements at will.
How many more of us will act in this way if we know it is not we who will be judged at fault? And how many will be run down by those motorists – and there are many of them – who drive with their eyes focused dreamily on a point two feet in front of their windscreen?
All in all I prefer to keep the fear factor in play.