There is a cycle lane which runs along Southend seafront that I refuse to use. Some of the car drivers who pass me make their views pretty clear and think I have no right to be cycling in the road – even though I am riding at between 20 – 25 mph.
When the government were consulting on the new Highway Code last year they seemed to be in agreement with the motorist who thinks he or she has the sole right to the road by making it compulsory for cyclists to cycle in cycle lanes where one exists.
“Am I just being bloody minded or showing off in some way?” “Why should this be a problem?”, you may well ask. “Why shouldn’t cyclists ride in cycling lanes”.
Well the answer really is quite straight forward. Cycle lanes are not only used by cyclists. And if I am riding at 20 miles and hit someone, then I am liable. No matter that it is a cycle lane and they shouldn’t be there. So it’s a matter of slow down or not use. And I see no reason why I should spoil my ride just because I might be riding at between 5 and 10 miles below the speed limit.
Take last weekend for example. I thought I would be a good citizen and as there weren’t that many people about, thought I would use the cycle lane for a change. First I had to stop while a 5 year old decided which side of the lane she was going to ride or, indeed, if she would even bother to give way. Then there are the joggers who think that the 9 foot wide pavement which runs alongside the cycle lane is not for them. Then there are dog walkers. Or people who clearly think that the risk of being hit by a bike in the cycle lane is more of an appeal than walking on the pavement. And when I shout “Bike” or something like that, I am the one who ends up with the torrent of abuse!
So, for cycle lanes read ‘anyone who feels like using it’ and ‘ll carry on using the road – safer all round.