Saturday 31 January 2015

The five most annoying things pedestrians do to cyclists

Wayward pedestrians are a bigger threat to safety

Thinkstock Images
Thinkstock Images

IN THE Daily Telegraph last week, I made the entirely sensible suggestion that there were situations in which it was plainly safer on London's roads for cyclists to go through red lights.

Not everyone, it has to be said, felt the same. Among the many expressions of warm regard (some of them almost printable) from many of Britain's road users, there were some very interesting comments, especially from other cyclists who suggested that advance green lights for cyclists to allow them a lawful head start, as in Holland, would make a real difference to safety. I'm convinced that motorists wouldn't mind waiting for those few extra seconds when cyclists' safety is at stake.

Of course, there were pedestrians who made very helpful suggestions, too, among them one that I think could be adapted to pedestrians themselves. Surely a registration scheme for pedestrians, involving insurance and the wearing of small number plates front and rear over outdoor clothing would have a positive effect on all but the most dangerous two-feeters.

London's new cycling tsar Andrew Gilligan (who also happens to be a Telegraph columnist) has made it clear he wants to stamp out things that cyclists do that frighten and annoy pedestrians. As a pedestrian, driver, and cyclist, I'm in no doubt as to which group is most endangered by the other two.

So I've compiled a list of things that pedestrians do that frighten and annoy cyclists - by which I mean put them in physical danger (except for number five). I've ignored the most obvious ("It's green or blue, it's got a cycle painted on it... it must be for walking on") and concentrated on some of the classics.

How about some action on the below?

1. Man walks into a road...

It sounds like the start of a routine by a Seventies comedian, but in fact that's the whole gag. No stopping at the kerb, no looking both ways, no listening. It's as if the green cross code had never been invented.

Often performed by pedestrians, men and women, on mobile phones or changing tracks on a music player. Never funny.

2. The Mr Magoo or Who Put That Cyclist There?

So regularly performed that you might almost call it old-school, this deceptively simple manoeuvre will surely have unseated the odd penny farthing rider in its time, perhaps even separated a fashionable gentleman on a velocipede from his top hat and teeth.

The pedestrian merely steps between two stationary vehicles - in the classic version of the Mr Magoo it will be two buses - and... who put that cyclist there?

Hard to avoid and very dangerous to cyclists.

3. The Lean, aka The Fall

The Lean, which may appear insouciant and cool when used to cross between passing cars, is really unnerving for cyclists who are only one minor clip away from "falling" and "catching themselves from falling" by hitting the pavement hard.

Spot fine, please.

4. The Chris Ashton / Emmitt Smith

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