Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Better bikes

If I am honest, as a driver I hate bikes on the road. Even when they don't misbehave, they can be difficult to pass on narrow roads (of course, I always leave plenty of space), and few things are more irritating than when the same bike keeps undertaking you in traffic, then you have to pass it again, then it undertakes you again...

And, of course, like many others I have witnessed far too many bad practices from bikes. (If you are a biking enthusiast, don't get on your high horse - er, saddle - I see plenty of bad practices from drivers too, but I am talking about bikes here.) The majority in these parts seem to think it's okay to ride at night without lights. I've seen bikes riding three-abreast, totally blocking the carriageway. And I've pulled out at a T-junction traffic light only to have a bike ram into the side of me because he thought traffic lights didn't apply to him.

There's no doubt that bikes do irritate motorists - and a lot of it is down to fear. Drivers genuinely don't like going near bikes because they are aware of the damage they could cause.

Our bike-friendly footpath
Round our way, we have a much better solution. Almost all our pavements are bike/pedestrian. And it works. There is no danger of knocking a bike over when you are driving, because they aren't on the road. Of course there is always a risk from mixing bikes and pedestrians, but in my experience round here, the bikes are fairly careful (in part because these clearly aren't pure bike lanes) and though I have seen a few near misses I'd rather see a bike/pedestrian collision than a car/bike one.

I ought to stress that our pavements are not mega-wide, two lane, bike ways. They are just ordinary pavements - perhaps slightly wider than some, but not hugely so. There is no doubt this approach could be taken in many more places. And maybe it would even save some lives.

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