In London, everyone hates cyclists, yet cycling is set to overtake driving. Traffic grid-lock, insufficient parking places and fines for driving into the city will only get worse. Public transport is similarly ghastly, especially ‘The Tube’ – London’s underground railway network. It would be illegal to transport animals is such conditions but it is okay for humans to be crushed like sardines. I once asked Transport for London (TfL) why it is virtually impossible to park a motorcycle or scooter in London. The reply left me open-mouthed, basically, ‘We don’t like motorbikes. They are dangerous and look ugly.”
No surprises to hear that London has seen a massive growth in cycling. In the year 2000, car-to-cycle ratio was 11 to 1. In 2014, the ratio hit an amazing 1.7 to one. TfL reckons that in three years’ time, there will be more cyclists in London than cars.
When cycling for recreation, I find out-of-town routes with little or no traffic as the health benefits from cycling can be outweighed by inhaling poison gas from exhausts. Approximately 15 cyclists per year die in London road accidents. Cyclists are risking their lives to save the planet and reduce congestion, so for me, part of the deal is freedom. Cyclists like me sometimes ignore inappropriate red traffic lights, or occasionally cycle on empty pavements. Would you stop at some cross-roads in the desert if the light shows red and there is no one around for miles? There is long, fast, narrow, bendy road near my house with a footpath that has rarely seen a pedestrian. I have choice: cycle on the road and risk death, or cycle on the empty footpath. I must choose between breaking the law and living. The abandoned word, ‘discretion’ needs re-establishing.
Recently, my wife and I entered an 80km London-to-Brighton cycle race. At about half-distance I could see a traffic-light-controlled pedestrian crossing. There was only one pedestrian and he was long-gone by the time I arrived at the red light. I chose not to stop. Shortly after this, a fellow competitor cycled alongside expressing displeasure for my act. I suggested that he go forth and multiply, or words to that effect. So, not only do motorists and pedestrians hate cyclists, so do other cyclists. Equality rules.
PS. If you are a policeman reading this, all the above is fictitious.