Upon leaving Watergate I turned left across the cycle lane in New Bridge Street, Blackfriars, the traffic light was clearly in my favour, and every single cyclist had stopped at the red light in the cycle lane... except for one cyclist. Wearing his hi-viz vest, fluorescent rucksack, and clear face-mask to protect his lungs from London's toxic air, he proceeded to make his merry way straight into my path.
We were less than a foot from having a collision because of the recklessness of his actions, he could have quite easily ended up suffering a serious injury, or worse... Why?
I'm not the first person to encounter such an occurrence, and I most certainly will not be the last, but there is now a very real problem, which seemingly very few in government wish to recognise.
Let's be absolutely clear here, a cyclist's safety should be paramount, they are a highly vulnerable group which do need protection, but how do you protect those who simply will not take even the most basic steps to protect themselves.
It seems as though the only real way forward is through legislation, coupled with strict enforcement.
The common argument put forward by many cyclists is that extra legislation is cumbersome, restrictive and unnecessary as well as being difficult to enforce... and they are right on all counts. However, if cyclists cannot abide by current legislation, and will not police themselves to cycle responsibiy, then what alternative is left other than a tougher approach.
Legislation should require all cyclists over the age of 16 to have their cycles registered, with the bikes carrying a visible registration mark on the back, in the same way that a motorcycle carries a registration plate.
Insurance for cyclists is something that is repeatedly spoken about by motorists complaining at the lack of accountability from these untraceable road users. Could there be an argument to legislate that a premium is placed on every new cycle to cover the cost of a cyclists insurance fund, which could operate much in the same way as the Motorists Insurers Bureau does with the motor industry?
Legislation compelling cyclists to use purpose-built cycle lanes where available is imperative to their safety. Many roads have been deliberately narrowed by local authorities to facilitate the introduction of segregated cycle lanes, for cyclists to then deliberately choose to ignore them is quite frankly beyond belief. Roads which have been narrowed to facilitate these cycle lanes, by default will become a greater hazard to the cyclist, as there is less room for both themselves and other vehicles to manoeuvre. There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a cyclist to arbitrarily ignore a segregated cycle lane, other than self interest and self entitlement.
Other legislation pertaining to safety which must be implemented and enforced is the requirement for all cyclists to be carrying illumination on both the front and rear of the bicycle, again there just isn't an excuse not to be able to be seen.
None of the above should be an impingement to any cyclists freedom, there is nothing there which is unreasonable or prohibitive.
With right comes responsibility, another major concern is the bizarre situation whereby generally in the event of an accident which involves a cyclist, the driver is initially deemed liable. Given the reckless behaviour of a proportion of cyclists in the UK, it may be time to reevaluate the question of initial liability.
Many cyclists will of course argue that drivers break the law every day, and they are right, that is an inarguable fact, but that should not be considered as some sort of mitigation to justify reckless cycling.
All accidents involving cyclists should now be considered from an initial standpoint of equal liability. The assumption that because somebody is operating a less protected vehicle, they must automatically be assumed to be non-liable is utterly ludicrous.
Ultimately what must be remembered is that the vast majority of cyclists go about their business safely and considerately, in the same way that most motorists do.
Image Source: Cycle London City
Image Author Danny