Are London’s cyclists environmentally friendly saints of the road or law-breaking sinners?
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By Dan Deakins
The relationship between motorists and cyclists has always been an uneasy one. However, there’s no argument that as a mode of commuting, cycling is better for the environment, personal health and easing congestion in built-up areas such as London.
Firstly, the environment. We are familiar with the massive furore about the poles melting and climate change. People who drive to work are as much to blame for this issue as companies that drill for fossil fuels and operate coal-powered power stations.
The emissions produced by the average car is 170 grams of CO2 per kilometre (and even more if you drive a people carrier or 4×4), and consequently if you drive 2,000km in one month, that’s 340 kilograms of carbon dioxide that has been released into the atmosphere – which is slowing killing our planet.
Cycling, on the other hand, produces nothing whatsoever harmful to the atmosphere, and is a great way of keeping fit and exercising outside of rare leisure time for many busy people.
One of the biggest problems with commuting in urban areas is the heavy congestion it creates. Cyclists don’t contribute to this because they don’t have to stop when the traffic gets busy at peak times and slows to a crawl – they can simply slip between vehicles and be on their way.
One of the causes of all this motorised congestion is workers being priced out of living in the heart of the city and having to buy or rent in the suburbs. The result is hundreds of thousands of commuter journeys into London which clog up what are already incredibly busy roads.
I know many people who have been priced out of London; however, instead of driving all the way into the city, some drive to their nearest tube or rail station, take the train them cycle to work at the other end.
This is not only a healthier alternative but also eases congestion and means workers haven’t had to go through the barbaric road rage that occurs when too many drivers are trying to get somewhere at the same time.
Another problem with the driver/cyclist relationship is the abhorrent way some drivers seem to ignore cyclists’ right of way.
YouTube features plenty of Go-Pro footage of drivers completely ignoring cyclists at roundabouts and busy junctions, and either having a near miss or taking them out completely.
I know cyclists don’t pay road tax (although many will also own a car as well as a bike), but they have as much right to be on the road as drivers.
As a cyclist, I know how dangerous busy roads can be, and when you add in the factor of frustrated drivers, the problem is escalated tremendously. London’s car commuters would do well to consider swapping their vehicles for bicycles if at all possible. It makes sense in all sorts of ways.
Guido De Boer, LCC student – More and more cycles lanes have been created, but I think the real issue are the all the trucks and buses and their drivers’ attitude towards cyclists. I do think lots of the cyclist should take a course on how to behave in traffic, though, as I have seen some lunatics out there.
Jamie Ford, LCC student – As long as they’re not on the pavement I don’t have a problem with the cyclists in London.
By Fleur De Boer
Cycling may be the green option, but it makes me see red.
Compared to the drivers of buses, cars and even motorbikes, cyclists are easily the most vulnerable people on the road.
London’s traffic is insanely busy at rush hour, so take away the extra wheels, roof and seat belt and you’d think cyclists would handle themselves accordingly. Facts, figures and personal observations show that many do not.
The first time I hired a Barclay’s Bike I was told to think ‘I am a car’.
Excellent advice that meant: don’t let other vehicles intimidate you, stick to the notion that if you can’t see them in their mirror they can’t see you at all and most importantly follow the rules of the road especially traffic lights.
If a car ran a red light the driver could be fined hundreds of pounds and have points put on their licence. If their actions resulted in accidents or near misses, the punishment would be even more severe, such a driving ban.
However, when a cyclist runs a red light there’s a lot of beeping, swerving and swearing and that’s it.
This indecisiveness cyclists possess in whether to be a pedestrian or car angers me the most.
Several times I’ve gone to walk across a zebra crossing when a bike has zoomed past, and then the cyclists have the audacity to tell me to watch where I’m going? I have the right of way!
My anti-cycling feelings started two years ago when I was knocked down by a bike. As comedic as this sounds, being floored by a road cyclist when stepping off a bus is pretty painful.
Although the bus driver had not pulled as close to the curb as he was supposed to, the cyclist decided he’d save himself the hassle of veering one metre off course to cycle around the bus and instead pedal as fast as his lycra shorts would allow him between the bus and the pavement.
One smashed phone, scarred hip and mild concussion later, my grudge began.
Since then, I have witnessed cyclists reading the paper whilst speeding down cycle lanes (!), cut across two lanes of moving cars in order to turn right (!!) and attach homemade contraptions where kids are placed in with a Happy Meal but no helmet (!!!).
I understand that cycling relieves congestion on the roads, pollution and even waistlines.
Many of my friends swear by cycling to get them from A to B and get angry themselves when they witness other riders taking the laws of the road into their own hands.
More and more cyclists have taken to wearing Go-Pro cameras to document their daily commute for evidence in case of accidents; therefore they must be aware of the dangers.
I believe it’s their attitude to the road that causes 99% of the problems. However, as an avid fan of walking, I remain at the bottom of the transport-food-chain; I can’t even shout, “On yer bike!”
Otto Linder, LCC student – When I had a car I hated cyclists because of the way they congested the roads. I no longer have a car and am considering getting a bike but there are still many issues created by cyclists in town.
Max Petch, LCC student – I hate the way cyclists run red lights on some of the busiest roads in the world. They’re not only putting their own lives in danger but also creating the possibility of a very serious crash affecting other road users.