- Oct 25, 2006
Fudged it may be in some views, but look at the reality of these facts:WARNING RANT ALERT!
What a typically fudged mess.
1) 30 million drive regularly, less than 2 million cycle regularly, the whole population are pedestrians.
2) Britain is small, most of our urban areas are confined and old and the majority of roads are crowded with traffic and too narrow to allow safely for pedestrian refuge road islands, cyclists and motor vehicles at the same time.
3) With most of the population travelling in vehicles, the majority of pavements are empty most of the time. Built many decades ago when few owned vehicles and most walked, nationally they are now a vast area of very underused resource.
Obviously those near vacant pavements can carry some of the road overburden and I don't think politicians are unwise to employ them. Given the low speed of pedestrians, the only suitable roads element to transfer are bicycles, but of necessity ridden with care.
In many other countries this works without complaint. Indeed in Japan cyclists have to by law move onto the pavement in many urban areas. In the Netherlands there are many areas co-used by cyclist and pedestrians, and the same is true in many other countries, probably the majority worldwide.
The reason it works in all those other places is that cyclists ride at moderate speeds and are happy to ride slowly and considerately in the presence of pedestrians. The reason it isn't working here in Britain is that our cyclists all too often think they are taking part in the Tour de France and belt along at speeds dangerous to pedestrians, even when on pavements. That, together with passing close at speed, in turn scares and upsets pedestrians, causing or amplifying their anti-cyclist attitudes.
The answer is in cyclist's hands. I have no trouble when riding on the pavement and have even been thanked or praised by pedestrians at times when doing so. When there's no walkers around I ride at normal cycling speeds but slow well down when passing walkers approaching me, giving plenty of space.
When about to pass walkers from behind, I slow right down to a little above walking speed and ring my bell. They then often step aside, so as I slowly pass I smile and say "thank you, sorry to inconvenience you". That frequently brings a positive response, like"no problem" and even on occasion, "thank you for ringing your bell".
GeorgeHenry above has indicated that he rides in a similar fashion too and no doubt has little trouble with walkers.
There's no point in ranting about cycling facilities when there's frequently no space to provide them without bulldozing rows of buildings or compulsorily purchasing someone elses land. Nor is comparison with the Netherlands superb cycling facilities valid, when 70% of their population cycle daily and only well under 2% at most of ours do.
So over to you Britain's cyclists, accept that sharing pavements at times is a sensible measure in our confined and crowded country and adjust your riding to suit. It works in so many other places, so can here too if we want it to.