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17 January, 2005

That'll be the problem, then

I wrote that last entry, about high-visibility jackets, from work (after normal working hours, Mr. Employer, sir).  I posted it, then got ready to cycle home.  I switched off the PC, put on my fleece, put on my dayglo yellow jacket, put on my dark purple waterproof jacket, put on my rucksack, picked up my bike helmet, lights and gloves, locked the door, walked downstairs, then thought about the slight flaw in that sequence....


Hee hee ;)

Although, can I ask you something about what you said in that previous entry:

"cyclists shouldn't have to make an extra effort to assist car drivers"

I'll be the first to admit that some of my fellow four-wheeled road users are pathetic when it comes to noticing what goes on around them. But is the road really a place for having such a debate? Surely it's just good practice to make every attempt to put yourself in a safer position? (except when that attempt means buying a stupidly huge 4x4 ;)

This is probably a flawed analogy (apologies) but could you not also say that ideally it shouldn't matter which side of a cycle-path pedestrians walk down? Ideally cyclists should be riding safely enough to avoid problems, and it shouldn't be up to the pedestrians to assist them.

Posted by Siobhan at January 18, 2005 08:48 AM

First point:
Yes, as I said in that entry, idealism doesn't interfere with pragmatism, so I wear the jacket.

Second point:
The common fallacy (which I don't think you're making, but I'll say it anyway, for the benefit of others) is that a cycle path is a path primarily for pedestrians, which cyclists can also use. It's not.
On sections such as Lancaster-Caton, where there's no central line, pedestrians and cyclists have equal status; neither has priority over the other. Cyclists need to ride carefully, and pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings at all times (and not walk five abreast, but that's a different issue). I agree that beyond common sense, pedestrians shouldn't make an extra effort to assist cyclists - no dayglo jackets required!.

However, where there is a central line, as in the case I mentioned, segregation should be absolute - cyclists riding on the pedestrian side are on the 'pavement', and should be prosecuted, whilst pedestrians have as much right to walk on the bicycle side as to walk along the middle lane of the M6 i.e. absolutely none.

In practice, it doesn't matter all that much, of course, if an individual pedestrian or cyclist is on the wrong side of an empty cycle path. The problem occurs when there are several pedestrians and cyclists present at once, causing unnecessary conflict and destroying a system which could work perfectly.

Posted by NRT at January 18, 2005 10:56 AM

No, I think I was making that fallacy - I didn't realise that about cycle-paths. I guess I've never really thought about them that much before.

Surely though, as a pedestrian I have just as much right to walk down the cycle part as I do to walk down a normal road (although I run the personal risk of getting hit/shouted at). Walking down motorways is a specific offense - but (correct me if I'm wrong) walking down a road isn't, is it?

Personally though, I think I should be allowed to drive my car down cycle paths. That way I could get to Sainsburys and back without having to go all the way round the One-Way System ;)

Posted by Siobhan at January 18, 2005 01:12 PM

Hmm. I know it's 'extra bad' to walk along a motorway, so that was a bad analogy, and yes, pedestrians can walk along a country lane (where there's no pavement) at their own risk, but beyond that, I don't know. I suspect that if someone tried to walk down the middle of Oxford Road, Manchester, the police would be interested.
That's the comparison I'm trying to make - the bike side of a cycle path isn't a pedestrian environment. Agreed, it's probably a bit of a stretch to say it's absolutely illegal, though.

Posted by NRT at January 18, 2005 02:05 PM
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