There has been a welcome burst of safer cycling coverage and campaigns of late.

From British Cycling calling for greater mutual respect between all road users, to The Times launching its Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, for once there appears to be a fair amount of balanced coverage around.

I love my bike, car, trains and walking. But I'd like to feel safe whichever way I decide to travel. Pic by @rachelcreative

Of course, you will always get the Clarkson cronies bleating on about the poor British motorist and how everything is a conspiracy against petrolheads, but on the whole the coverage in the last week or so has made a refreshing change.

It has also included some stark statistics than even the most blinkered motorists might be alarming (then again, they might not).

When it comes to commuting, I’ve been a bit of a polymath in recent years. I’ve commuted by train, by foot, by bike and most recently by car.

The train commute was, by and large, the most hassle-free of the lot. The much-lamented Cross City line from Lichfield to Birmingham only really let me down badly twice in five years of daily commuting, which isn’t a bad ratio. Of course, I had to put up with close proximity to the great British public, but with a good book and earphones even that was bearable.

The other three modes of transport, however, regularly caused me grief.

Even on foot, walking the 20-minute route in the centre of Lichfield was a potential minefield of manic school run parents mounting pavements to escape queueing traffic, overtaking slow-moving vehicles in a 20mph school zone or simply ignoring red lights and crossings.

Cycling wasn’t much better, actually it was probably worse and I usually sidetracked into a local park to bypass the roads. I rarely commuted to work on my bike, settling for my early morning rides when the roads were mercifully much more traffic free.

I’m now commuting by car again and quickly took the decision it was futile to try to beat the congestion, settling on a route which might take a little longer but which takes me away from the numerous traffic hot-spots between Lichfield and Telford.

I'm starting to think I'd be safer out there if I buy one of these. I could avoid all roads and pavements then.

But it still doesn’t make me immune to the queue jumpers, those who don’t seem to realise their vehicle possesses indicators, or those who crawl along a 50mp route at 30mp and then speed up to 50mph in a 30mph zone.

The simple truth is – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we are a nation of bad road users. We’re too wrapped up in our own little world to care about anyone else on the road (or pavement).

That’s why British Cycling’s “mutual respect” call hits the nail on the head, but unfortunately might well fall on deaf ears.

We rarely encounter such respect in other aspects of our daily lives, so why should we expect it on our roads?

I’m a cynic, I know. I’m also a motorist, a cyclist and pedestrian fed up of having to take my life in my own hands when venturing outside the front door.


2 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog and commented:
    Paul Groves is a top Lichfeldian, carer, writer and a fine cyclist. Please read this.

  2. stymaster says:

    Well said. I commute by car, but mostly walk, bus, or cycle at weekends. The cycling is mainly for excercise. The selfish behaviour by some road users of all types is depressing- cars and bikes on pavements, pedestrians in the road, and being on the road during the school run? [shudder]. I drive on some of the most congested motorways in the country, and it’s a walk in the park by comparison.

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