ASBO for cyclist


A cyclist in London has been fined for riding on the pavement. This is good. No, really. There is a danger to pedestrians caused by cycling on the pavement and we should support measures to discourage or prevent it.

The danger is much less than most pedestrians suppose, however (and this is not going to be an attempt to justify riding on the pavement because I do think it is wrong). As a pedestrian you are not aware of an oncoming bicycle until it is very close to you. The bicycle is silent and travelling much faster than you can run. It’s very similar to becoming aware of an attack by a predator and it provokes the same kind of flight reaction. It is canonically startling. This fear reaction is quite normal and easy to explain but what happens next is that the pedestrian attempts to rationalise the fear and becomes angry at what he or she perceives as dangerous riding.

Here’s the thing. The cyclist actually sees the pedestrian about 10 seconds and 50 yards before the pedestrian sees the cyclist. This is because the pedestrian is in front of the cyclist and the cyclist is travelling fast so he or she has to focus his concentration some way ahead of him or herself. So by the time the pedestrian has been startled at the cyclist, the cyclist has been in full control of the situation for some time and has changed his course to avoid a collision.

Not an excuse, but an explanation of (1) why pedestrians hate cyclists and (2) why collisions with pedestrians caused by cyclists are much rarer than people imagine.

I emphasise the “caused by cyclists” there because collisions between pedestrians and cyclists are actually very frequent and (from personal experience) caused almost entirely by pedestrians walking in or onto the road without due care and attention. Of my last 5 collisions, 4 have been with pedestrians and one with a lorry. You will have to take my word for this, but only in the case of the lorry was I in any way able to avoid the collision. I had the right of way in all 5 cases.

So in conclusion, I applaud the fining of the cyclist for riding on the pavement because it is against the law, dangerous and wrong. I look forward to the same criteria being applied to other offenses such as motor vehicles stopping by the Advanced Stop Line. This is also against the law, dangerous and wrong. I do not believe any driver has ever been prosecuted for this offence ever.

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