Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Love and understanding

In a shock move, this post actually concerns one of the original subjects I intended to concentrate on when I started it four years ago.....viz., cycling.

More accurately, it's about road use. Now, I'm both a cyclist (less so than I used to be, but I still just about qualify), and a motorist. I'm also a Libran, and if you believe in all that astrology nonsense, that means I tend to be able to see both points of view in any given argument. And given that cyclists and drivers seem to have quite a few arguments these days, here are a few things it would be helpful for each side to understand about the other, where they may be less experienced in the opposite discipline.

First, listen up motorists:

1. The fact you pay Road Fund Licence (not 'road tax'), and cyclists don't, does not mean you have more right to be on the road. The public highway exists to facilitate travel by all modes, whether that's car, bike, horse, tractor, unicycle, walking (if there's no footpath), or anything else you can think of. Paying to use the road makes you the odd one out, not the other road users. Besides which, many cyclists also own cars, and so pay RFL. Or they own an electric or super low emission car, in which case they don't. Oh, that's right, RFL levels are based on pollutant levels these days, and guess how much cycling emits (bottom-related baked bean induced gases excepted, obviously)?

2. Unless there are double white lines down the middle of the road (but one of those may be a broken white line, rather than a solid one) cyclists have every right to cycle two abreast. Not three or more, but two is fine and legal

3. Some cyclists travel quite quickly. So don't think that because it's a bike you absolutely have to overtake it, or else your manhood will shrivel up and die (reverse sexism at work possibly there, but it is usually men). Many times have I heard a car accelerate to go past me when I've been riding at or near 30 mph in a 30mph zone). Similarly, just because it's not a car or a lorry at a junction or a roundabout doesn't mean it's not there

4. Very few cyclists - a tiny, tiny minority - are deliberately trying to piss you off.  Examine your own attitude. Would you be as annoyed if you were being momentarily held up by a horse or a tractor? Why not?

5. Just because you're a great driver with fantastic spatial awareness who knows exactly where your near side wing mirror is does NOT mean it's still not flipping frightening for cyclists for said wing mirror to miss them by a matter of centimetres. Give cyclists room. Please. The sooner we have the 1.5 metre rule in this country, as they do in plenty of others, the better.

Now it's your turn cyclists:

1. Unless you are totally, utterly confident that a vehicle is not going to pull to the left or turn to the left when it's moving, do not ride up the inside of it. Even then, try not to. The driver may not be able to see you, or even think of looking for you. If it's a large vehicle, and maybe if it's a small one, you will be run over, and you will probably die

2. Do not pick and choose whether you're a road user or a pedestrian, depending on which set of rules suit you more at the time. If you want to be treated as a road user, behave as a road user; obey red lights, treat junctions properly, don't ride on pavements ideally at all, or certainly at anything more than walking pace, etc. etc.

3. Do not ride in such a big group that it's virtually impossible to overtake you. If the overall overall footprint (wheel print?) on the road of the group is greater than than of, say, a small bus, break into a number of smaller groups, with a decent gap between them. Yes, drivers should be patient, but don't try that patience unreasonably - they'll only end up taking chances, which ultimately are likely to result in harm to you

4. For those of a more sporting bent, don't drop litter like gel packets and the like; you're not riding the f***ing Tour de France, and even at that event, there are designated litter zones these days, with riders fined if they're spotted jettisoning stuff elsewhere

5. Do try to make eye contact with drivers at junctions, roundabouts etc. Two reasons: first, it helps you read the driver's intentions, and whether they're likely to do something stupid. Second, it humanises the whole road using situation - it's not a big machine against a little machine, it's one person engaging with another. Acknowledging good behaviour is also good practice (eg little waves when drivers slow up on single width roads), as it encourages more of the same. Works on kids, why not with drivers?

There we go, my Wednesday night recipe for driver-cyclist harmony. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Six Nations

So the rugby's started. Every year I hope the final table will look like this (with reasons):

1. England - I'm English; born here, live here most of the time
2. Wales - Land of my Father's
3. France - love the place, and if I hadn't have hit the jackpot by being born an Englishman, being French would have been a good runner's up prize
4. Italy - generally self-regarding narcissists; same can't be said of the rugby team though and I love them for that
5. Ireland - troublesome Celts, but as not as bothersome as they used to be
6. Scotland - more troublesome Celts, and ungrateful ones at that


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