On my walk each morning from my parked car to the railway station, I frequently have to move aside while on the footway to avoid being knocked over by a cyclist. When I say ‘frequently’, I mean this happens several times a week to me and I’m sure it happens on an hourly basis every day in that particular area. Yes, the road isn’t that nice for cyclists; with cars having little room to pass, I’m sure it can be a quite intimidating stretch of road. However, out of concern for themselves, these cyclists show no concern for others, and this is the real issue I’ve been thinking about.
Car versus cyclist conflict is rarely out of the media these days and most people can gripe about cyclists on footways. I’m a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, and my views change whenever I change mode. Cyclists on footways annoy me but so do drivers passing too close to me when I’m cycling, while cyclists riding two abreast on narrow roads is just plain stupidity; so I can see arguments from all sides, but most people should be able to. This leads to the over-riding issue, as it really is about thinking about the other person.
The big issue isn’t about cars versus cyclists, cyclists versus pedestrians, or cars versus pedestrians for that matter, the issue really is about an absolute lack of care and respect for each other. The society we live in has led to people becoming so self-absorbed and blinkered towards their own well-being and comfort, that many, if not most, people show a complete disregard for their impact on others. If we all started to consider the impact we each individually have, instead of automatically putting ourselves first, these kinds of conflicts would reduce. I think it likely that a change of attitude towards each other would have a bigger impact than spending millions of pounds of road safety engineering.
Unfortunately, changing behaviour is a lot more difficult than putting in speed humps.