There are no sides here. I have a bicycle too; it’s a mountain bike I’ve had for 23 years and it’s one of my most treasured possessions. I ride it. I also have a motorcycle, a quiet car, a noisy car and I keep horses. Sometimes I even walk. So at various times I am one of a motorist, a cyclist, a motorcyclist and a pedestrian, while those I love dearest are horse riders. So, no, there are no sides. Just individuals.
So matey on his bike here didn’t annoy me with his head shake because he was on a bike, but because he seemed a bit sanctimonious, when I thought I was bothering nobody. I suspect he’d have the same character whether he was cycling, driving a car or walking.
And there are people like him on both ‘sides’ of what ought to remain a non-debate.
There are people, for example, who don’t like cycling who’ll complain that “cyclists don’t pay road tax”, even though it’s vehicle tax and, given that it’s based on CO2 emissions, would make bicycles free anyway (one reader has pointed out to me that a cyclist might emit a bit more CO2 than a driver through excessive huffing and puffing, but probably never as much as a 6.0-litre V12). So that’s a non-argument.
Or they say that that cyclists don’t have insurance, which is probably a non-argument too because anybody who lives in a house that’s covered by contents insurance probably does have third party liability cover while cycling.
(As the Association of British Insurers says: “Your contents policy will also normally provide personal liability cover for you and members of your household when away from your home.” It doesn’t cover vehicles or horses [or mules or donkeys], nor death or bodily injury to your domestic staff - so don’t run the butler down - but it does usually cover you while using bicycles, even electrically powered ones, and ride-on mowers or golf buggies.)
Or perhaps they say that “they don’t even have to have a licence!” Sort of true, and most cycling groups would like to see compulsory cycle training in schools, because they’d like more people to feel confident cycling. But, given you can pass a driving test at 17 and never have to look at the Highway Code again in your life, it seems ludicrous to me to try enforce some kind of compulsory test or licence and registration onto cyclists.
The fact that somebody’s justifiably cross about a cyclist jumping a red light and bothering pedestrians in London does not mean children should lose the ability to mess around on BMXs (yes, in my head it is still 1988) in quiet residential streets and parks.
So, no, I didn’t dislike matey because he’s a cyclist. I was just a bit bemused and would probably steer clear of him whether he was in Lycra or wearing jeans, and whether he was on a bike or in an MPV.
But the short of it is that, legislatively, absolutely nothing is going to change. And if you can’t change that situation, change your mindset: less angst, fewer headshakes, and more understanding, tolerance and love.
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