Long gone are the days where the promenade along my local seafront was the place to take a nice, peaceful, gratifying stroll down by the beach, on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Contory it is increasingly turning into a battle ground, hosting the fight between bikers and pedestrians. As you can guess, the former always wins. Be it someone only just managing to come to a halt when passing a little puppy, someone launching at 20 miles per hour just missing a little girl by an inch, or in-fact this crowd of teenagers, younger than me, making me walk on the sand. Bastards.
So t start with this is about the sorts which I can not tolerate. So an average cyclist can reach over 20mph on a bike, which is more than reasonable if you are going along a paved cycle lane, however I am lucky to reach 10mph. Due to preferring to ride along a footpath, I actually slow down if I spot an elderly couple, a young puppy or in-fact anybody! However these sorts of concerns clearly aren’t prevailing in ALL cyclists! Some literally will not slow down for anybody, and I am sorry but I personally regard this sort of behaviour as selfish, as it means that anybody walking on will have to put in an extremely conscious effort to avoid any dangerous collisions. Already I have noticed how so many walkers are now afraid to use the paths provided, and have been converting to the adjoining beach instead- where the dry sand is extremely difficult to walk on meanwhile you are often at risk of getting your feet soaked by the sea, if you were to walk on the wet sand. Subsequently it is only right that cyclists should have a bit more consideration for those families and alike choosing to walk rather than anything else?
Additionally, if this doesn’t yet justify my hostility to some cyclists, this might. So to start with, we are in the midst of a lockdown. It may not seem like one at the moment, however the bloody pubs are shut, and now is not the time to be hosting an enournmous party! So yeah, it is lockdown- and most certainly was 2 months ago. However this will not stop some will it? Back in March I witnessed many large groups of cyclists rapidly gliding along, and I am sure they weren’t all related to each other. But they wouldn’t avoid social distancing amongst themselves, rather they would also prevent pretty much anyone whom they passed from abiding with these guidelines. One time when someone going far too fast overtook me, I would have been surprised if he had left me two inches, let alone two metres! Now if you think I am exaggerating, I actually witnessed a cyclist passing a lady who was keeping two plastic bottles in place at either side. Now as the cyclist overtook, the water bottle sort of bumped on its side. No surprise there. But then the biker had the nerve to tell her he was all too aware of the social distancing! Although getting up too close to others when on a bike, was pretty dangerous before all of this social distancing. It definitely startled me, when that guy overtook me by merely an inch. Partly because I couldn’t even see where he was coming from; the same recurring issue with drivers…
Reading this, you are probably thinking that I should have been spending this valuable finding somewhere else to walk, rather than produce this little rant. Fair enough. You probably also think I am one of these people who abhor cyclists, regardless of the circumstances. But that is not the case. Actually I am all in favour of people choosing to cycle, and I have recently been getting back into it myself. Therefore despite the behaviour of a small but overwhelming minority, you cannot make the assumption that cycling or even cyclists are bad.
For a start there are many cyclists whom only go at a high speed when they are in an appropriate area to do so, and wouldn’t dream of going so fast in public areas. Perhaps they avoid these public areas entirely. Who knows… While most cyclists are more conscientious than you may think and would slow down well in time and give others plenty of room to pass, therefore you shouldn’t have a hostile attitude towards them collectively. Also we know that cycling has a prodigious range of benefits…
Aside from the health benefits to the rider, which I am sure we are all too aware of, cyclists on average tend to ride at around 10 miles an hour, giving a little leeway depending on circumstances. Meanwhile a walker can only walk at around 3. Therefore cycling is a far faster means of commuting from place to place, and many who would be reliuictant to spend over an hour to make a journey by foot, would be more than willing to spend half an hour via bicycle. Therefore this reduces the number of cars on the road, meaning less congestion and reduced amounts of air pollution. So there is a reason why advocats of green air are so keen on us walking and cycling as opposed to travelling via car.
And while I wasn’t going to mention health, it is actually beneficial for mental health reducing anxiety and depression, by having “a relaxing effect due to uniform movement, which stabilises physical and emotional functions.”
Moreover the reduced congestion may mean that cars journey times are reduced, however anybody who has studies for the driving theory test will be all too aware that cyclists are classed as “vulnerable road users” therefore can be a real pain.
Personally I have recently got back into cycling because I find it reduces my levels of stress, helps me sleep at night and it is more enjoyable than some forms of exercise maybe due to covering a longer distance in a shorter space of time. While what may have tempted me as well, was being in the midst of this pandemic, feeling rather sceptical at the thought of using public transport while not wanting to have to relay on lifts 24/7 (though at this moment I don’t go out often). However I have witnessed the speed at which some of these cyclists go, and I genuinely think that the majority who do ride at these speeds and almost but don’t crash into things, don’t actually mean to. Rather it is accidental, and maybe they need to educate themselves a little more (fat note to myself too!). However it is very fair to say that there is a handful of them out there, generally those who are more experienced, who do not give a dam, or at least fancy themselves as being above other commuters and those who are exercising. It would be nice if all of these cyclists could realise that they were only on two wheels, rather than four (plus anything on 4 wheels wouldn’t get away with going half as fast along footpaths as some of these cyclists do). However we have got to accept that most cyclists are in-fact harmless, and that everyone has an equal right to be travelling along a particular walkway, unless of course cyclists have been forbidden.