What is the deal with London cyclists? I don’t mean all of them, but the frightening yobs who regard London’s roads as their personal playground.
Londoners know the type, the ones who weave in and out of traffic and pedestrians with total disdain knowing they’re unlikely to face any legal recourse.
According to the DVLA 19,000 cyclists were injured in road accidents in the United Kingdom last year; 13 of those were killed in London.
More careful cycling would clearly be beneficial for London as a whole, especially as the use of the bicycle as a form of transport continues to increase – more than a million people have taken up cycling over the last five years.
Another report commissioned by the government says that using the United Kingdom’s grid of cycle-friendly pathways is saving the country one million pounds every day.
However, the increase in cyclists has also opened a debate about an awful sense of prerogative, which has led to more terrifying street and road manoeuvres.
Almost every other day I see cyclists breaking traffic laws and putting their lives – and those of others – in danger; be it speeding up a one way road in the wrong path or weaving in the middle of the road.
That said, cycling is to a larger extent becoming an alternative to driving, which is why I think it is about time cyclists are forced to take an obligatory skills test, have MOT certificates for their bicycles, along with mandatory use of helmets.On balance, as a motorist I pay insurance, road tax, and have passed my driving test to prove my own road-worthiness; is it not time for the government to make cyclists do the same or at least back the police to end the hazardous mischievousness practised by many cyclists?
I am of the view that in the absence of a licencing system those riding bicycles cannot be disqualified for their poor demeanour on the road; it is difficult to penalise cyclists, unless you use on the spot fines.
Now, I am not claiming that those who cycle do not pay for the road; it is actually believed that a majority of those who cycle often drive cars, meaning they must have paid their road taxes.
For now, cycling is open to any person and recently, I witnessed a group of boys in their teens wobbling end-to-end on what seemed to be shaky machines that could easily become death traps.
With no MOT system to ascertain road worthiness, and no tangible ability behind the handle bars, I gave this group a very wide berth and walked sluggishly behind for fear of attempting to walk past them.
Many cyclists do not respect pedestrians; not that I have any dislike for cyclists; in fact, my husband and kids have bicycles although their bikes are for keeping fit rather than transport.
I am aware that a good number of individuals over the age of five own a bicycle in London, an MOT and obligatory skills test for cycles and cyclists would be challenging, impracticable and possibly untenable, on the basis that kids have the equal legal rights as adults on cycles and expecting them to have MOT for their bicycles and taking obligatory skills tests maybe unrealistic unless their parents are involved.
In the meantime, I and others will have to be satisfied to see red, however, when it comes to the traffic lights, especially when a good number of cyclists in London will always see green.
Images By Fatima Jabbe