I, like many of you watched the BBC program regarding cyclists and other road users. Like many of you, I encountered a range of emotions I found myself experiencing. As an experienced cyclist for over 3o years, some spent racing competitively and also havig a full time job as a a road policing officer I perhaps have a unique perspective on the situation. Two things immediately struck me as I watched the programmes. 1. The vast majority of road users are sensible and safety conscious. 2. The main offenders, whether driving a vehicle or riding a pedal cycle shared the same mindset. That being the road is mine to own.
From now on in I will draw no distinction between drivers and riders. They share the same carriageway and they are road users, just as pedestrians are. As I have said earlier the majority of road users are law abiding, sensible and safety conscious. If they were not my corry tray at work would need to be the size of a house. Thankfully it is not but may need a ground floor extension imminently!
Road users in my humble experience generally fall into one of three categories.
1. They travel along in their own bubble oblivious to their own surroundings and that of others. Unskilled or inexperienced or steadfast in their own assumed safe driving position.
2. They travel along the carriageway, fully aware of their surroundings, showing due respect and courtesy (courtesy is one of the major factors to promoting road safety) to other road users and making allowances for them too. Big smiles.
3. They travel along the carriageway, again oblivious to their own surroundings or other road users to the extent that they might as well not be there. The road is to be controlled, speed with get you out of trouble and perhaps most disturbing of all a gladiatorial attitude bordering on madness, where reason and skill has been replaced with passion and aggression. An inflated self opinion on their own driving/riding ability and in their world they can never be wrong.
A very dangerous mix that will ultimately lead to a colilsion at some point down the line! A real time life and death game of chicken.
There were many video examples shown on the program and it would be easy to pick apart each individual clip in favour of either the cyclist or driver. Some were negligent, other’s plain dangerous and wilful. The road users that did fall fowl exhibited the qualities that I have pointed out above. They were also either out of position, out of their lane, blocked the free flow of traffic purposely or otherwise or simply lacked an appreciation of the other vehicle’s capability and more importantly it’s limitations.
What struck me most about the program and it only re-enforced the opinion I have formed over the years as a road policing officer is one of mind set and personality. It is irrelevant whether you ride a bike or drive a vehicle. If you are of that mind set where you are always right, the road is yours to own and you strive to get to your destination at all costs, then I am afraid my friend you are storing up a whole world of pain for yourself, your family, the other road user and their family.
Finally and up until this point I have not singled out either cyclists or drivers but addressed them equally as road users.
This is for the cyclists out there and I single you out purely on an objective test because if you collide with a vehicle you will come off worse! A question for you. Riding with the same mindset as the driver of the vehicle behind you, who do you think is going to win? I use the word win because that is the mindset of both of you.
Are you willing to trust your life to a driver who, like you has every intention of making it to the finish line at all costs?