Pavement Cyclists

Like Geoff and Tim Bray I read Tim Caynes' blog, it is just funny, I highly recommend it. Therefore had to respond to his pet peeve of pavement cyclists. Alas I can't get close to his humour.

Now it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read any of this that I don't do pavement cycling, hey I don't even do cycling on Cycle paths. There is a perfectly good network of routes for cyclists which, contrary to popular belief are safer than both pavements and cycle paths. I am of course speaking of roads.

I do offer two observations.

Take a look at the number of injuries caused by cyclists on the pavements and then compare them with the number caused by motor vehicles on the pavement. Since I'm typing this off line, I don't have my fingers on the exact figures, but there are about 200 people killed each year by motor vehicles on the pavement. In a bad year one person dies due to being hit by a cyclist (and it is not clear if that was on or off the road). I could check the figures later but then this would be a piece of research and not a blog.

Now look at why people ride on the pavement? I strongly suspect the reasons are two fold.

  1. Fear of other traffic. Safety promotions for things like Cycle Helmets that, to try and sell the product, portray cycling as a dangerous activity and a perception, which is real, that the danger is from other vehicles. The vast majority of injury accidents that involve cyclists are not the fault of the cyclists.

  2. The local councils have a dangerous habit of getting out a tin of paint and a few signs and designating a pavement as “A shared use Cycle path”. This just leads people to believe the right place to ride is on the pavement and not on the road.

I still won't defend pavement cycling as it is more dangerous for pedestrians and for the cyclist, however to tackle this we have to tackle the wider problems that leads to people to ride on the pavements. Ie look at the cause and not just the symptom.

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Comments:

They look like a couple of pretty good propositions. and I slightly over-egged the 'WE'RE AL GONNA DIE' bit, but I think there is a 3rd reason many people take to the pavement. I spend most of the day in my home office looking at the offenders drifting past, and to be honest, they are mostly 15-25 year old males wearing shirts with their name tags on them, or a hoodie with someone else name. They do it because they're halfwitted lazy baboons who can't be bothered to wait to turn right across a line of motor vehicles when its easier to hoof up the pavement and whizz round the front of the newsagents.

Posted by Tim Caynes on June 20, 2005 at 01:37 PM BST #

Chris - just to clarify, are you really suggesting that my 8-year old daughter ought to cycle to school in the road with the cars doing 60mph or along the pavement/cycle path that is well separated from the metal monsters?

There is one other thing, though, which is that - at least here in Cambridge (which you might imagine would be a place that knows how to cope with cyclists) - there does seem to be a belief among motorists that if there's a cycle path that the cyclist should use it and if you aren't then you're fair game for target practice.

Posted by Peter Tribble on June 21, 2005 at 06:20 AM BST #

Peter,

No. By the time children are 11 and with the correct training and supervision there should be no reason for them not to start to venture onto the roads, mine do and not just on the triplet.

Most of the dangers for cyclists occur at junctions and by using the pavement or a cycle path you significantly increase the danger of junctions, by being in the wrong place, where other vehicles are not expecting you to be.

Add to that that every drive way becomes a junction for the cyclist it is easy to see why the pavement is actually more dangerous than the road.

I don't dispute it is a hard decision to make and that I would like motor vehicles to be driven in such a way and at such a speed that they did not intimidate other road users off the road. However even with the speeding cars the safest place for cyclists is on the road being treated as the vehicles that they are.

Posted by Chris Gerhard on June 21, 2005 at 07:24 AM BST #

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This is the old blog of Chris Gerhard. It has mostly moved to http://chrisgerhard.wordpress.com

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