Why bikes shouldn’t have to follow the rules of the road

Bike salute at Buckingham PalaceWhen you cycle in London you have to do so using road and traffic infrastructure designed for the car. Traffic lights and lanes are designed for large, heavy, metal box’s to manoeuvre in. The laws too are designed for cars. It is currently presumed that cyclists in London should use the roads like cars and follow the same laws, like cars. In other words bikes should stop at red lights and stay off the pavements.  This is dangerous and disingenuous. It is time for cyclists to make the case for a totally different set of rules to apply for them… to make cycling easier, safer and more popular.

Cars are far heavier and bigger then a person. This means that when they hit a pedestrian things get messy; often involving broken bones and pools of blood. Many incidents are fatal. This is not the case with bikes. The reason why cars MUST stop at red lights is because a miscalculation on the driver’s part and people may die. If a cyclist comes to a red light and looking from side to side sees no traffic there is little risk to her continuing. Indeed if the cyclist has a blind spot and cycles straight into a pedestrian it is likely to be embarrassing but nothing worse. A sincere apology should make amends.

Waiting at a red light is very dangerous for a cyclist. Especially if the cyclist intends to turn left and a lorry comes up behind also wanting to turn left. When the lights change the lorry turns left crushing the cyclist against the metal grill ‘pedestrian protector’. The cyclist is slowly pushed through the grill like scarlet mash potato; a nasty walk to work for the passers by. More female cyclists then males are killed at red lights. The reason for this is that men are more likely to jump the reds.

Cyclists surround a taxi that just rode over a bike on Critical Mass

Cyclists are safer to carefully go ahead of traffic and jump reds because this makes them more visible to cars. Making this illegal endangers lives. If it is legal for pedestrians to cross a road anywhere irrespective of lights… why can’t cyclists? We are of comparable size and shape and weight. The cyclist and the pedestrian are actually interchangeable. Simply by jumping off the bike and pushing it you become a pedestrian. So having laws that insist that cyclists wait at red lights in front of a moaning heap of polluting metal which is itching to spill forward and break your bones seems sadistic at the state level.

Cars have so taken over London’s streets that there are some areas that it is almost impossible to cycle. The cars are backed up spilling out fumes at dangerous levels. The drivers are getting mad and start switching their cars from lane to lane in such a way that a cyclist can be slowly crushed to death at any moment. At times like these the logical and safe response for a cyclist who wants to one day be old is to get off the road and slowly and carefully cycle past the section of road in which death hovers above like a giant stale mist. When completing this action occasionally an anti-progress-pedestrian, probably obese and a proud car owner will block your way and rant in your face about obeying the law. Is this person serious? Are they seriously suggesting that following an inappropriate law is more sensible then staying alive? Who made these laws? Presumably the same people who thought it was a good idea to fill our most densely populated urban settlements with metal machines that kill and pollute.

Cycling culture in London

If pedestrians have issues about not having enough space, which is totally valid, take it up with the corpses riding around in their motorized coffins. They are the ones using up all the space. I might add:

Yo freakoid! I don’t want to ride on the pavement, I want to ride on the road, but if you haven’t noticed it’s full of maniacs who think they look ‘sporty’ sitting in traffic in an SUV. If you are allergic to the odd cyclist getting to work using the pavement, take it up with the people in cars. If we get 90% of private cars off the roads of London, think how much space there would be. We could have more markets, and play grounds and sports pitches. There would be more space for inner city kids to get some exercise. We could grow trees and food, cleaning the air, cooling the city and reducing the city’s eco-footprint. The benefits of taking the cars out of London goes way beyond improving health, reducing congestion and saving lives. It is an absolutely crucial step towards building a climate change resilient city which will still be habitable centuries from now.

Unfortunately by this point the anti-progress-pedestrian has shuffled off to the high street to buy more plastic tat to hoard in their cluttered little warrens before sending it off to landfill and buying more.

Cycling in a group is safer

People who want to ‘crack down’ on cyclists are failing to see that the fossil fuel and industrial era is over (almost). Human powered transport (walking, cycling, scooting, whatever) will become the main way of moving around cities (after mass public transport). Eventually, we will have the appropriate investment in this mode of transport to ensure there are bike lanes and bike traffic lights and suitable infrastructure for the most efficient mode of transport yet invented. Until this point let’s give the people trying to get around London in a clean and safe manor a little leeway. Building a safe and sustainable future for our children is hard enough without having to fight a constant rearguard action against post industrial-luddites who are desperate to cling to their internal combustion engines. Step aside… or go suck a tail pipe, human powered transport is taking over this city!

Other cycling posts on EcoHustler:

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5 Responses to Why bikes shouldn’t have to follow the rules of the road

  1. Gordon Jones May 30, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    As a pedestrain I find that bikes are a greater menace than cars or lorries. Cyclists are invariably rude and aggressive, ignore red lights and cycle on the pavements, expecting pedestrains to get out of the way. There is a pedestrain lane near my home which is fequently blocked by cyclists, holding up mothers with prams and pushchairs while they have a chat. I would certainly like to have London rid of cyclists, they are a menace on the pavements and the roads. Our motto locally is ‘Think bike, think cunt’.

    • Kristian Bailes March 7, 2012 at 3:10 am #

      Unfortunately stats don’t support your argument. Cars are the menace to both pedestrians and cyclists. Statistically it’s safer to drive than walk in modern cities. I admit, the few cyclists who brave the streets can be aggressive and even rude, but they are an extreme minority (roughly 2- 4% of the population of any city in the UK)and are usually aggressive because they ride in a very unfriendly environment. If my mother weren’t so scared to ride her bike I know she would be a very polite rider.

  2. The Admiral March 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Gordon,

    Check here for other reasons:

    http://www.ecohustler.co.uk/2011/06/03/the-solution-to-pollution/

  3. Mary November 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    In the 1920s-50s when everyone cycled the same rules were in existence and much much more strictly enforced. These rules were put in when there were almost no motor vehicles on the roads, and they were to make sure that the 1000s of cyclists on the roads were safe from each other and that pedestrians were kept safe from them. Police would set up traps to make sure cyclists stopped at red lights and at junctions – and there were court cases if you were caught there without your foot flat on the ground. If you had cycling in the same numbers now you would have to have stringent safety rules and they would have to be enforced. Sorry – but it is about public safety. Its about having a set of rules which everyone understands and thus keep each other safe.

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