Monday, 12 October 2009

Flash Rant

The local Council usually has no interest in the opinions of residents but, amazingly, has opened the pages of its free rag to an ‘In my opinion’ column. And what is local resident Flash Bristow (yes, that really does seem to be her name) allocated space for? A rant against cyclists. Or more specifically, cyclists who ride on pavements.

‘Pavements are for pedestrians,’ thunders Flash. I’m inclined to agree. That’s why I don’t like the Council’s habit of turning more and more pavements over for car parking, especially when they do this on roads with pavements only 1.5 metres wide (Browns Road E17, for example). And that’s why I’m not a fan of ‘shared use’ on pavements beside roads, which is usually just a way of freeing up road space by dumping cyclists on to pavements, or a way of avoiding addressing road danger by transferring cyclists to the pavement. Flash is silent on these fundamental contradictions to her thesis.

Waltham Forest News is not interested in these hypocrisies, of course, and would not give anyone like me space to point them out. Nor has it ever carried an opinion piece about drivers who block cycle lanes, say, or unlawfully occupy Advanced Stop Lines.

I agree with Flash Bristow that adults should not ride on pavements. I disagree with her when she fumes about children riding bicycles on pavements. ‘Police are not able to tell under 16s to take to the road,’ she grumbles. Well, Flash, children used to play in the street (just take a look at photographs of street scenes from half a century ago). Their play space was stolen from them by cars. Expecting children to cycle on streets which are full of drivers speeding, chatting on mobile phones, and generally acting in a dangerous way, is optimistic.

Cyclists will stop riding on pavements when laws intended to protect them as vulnerable road users are enforced by the Metropolitan Police, and when a safe cycling environment is available. As neither condition exists, Flash’s opinions won’t make a scrap of difference to anyone or anything.

Oh, and one last thing, Flash. I saw a couple of yobs on bikes recently cycle past a NO CYCLING sign on an alleyway leading to Wood Street. Two pedestrians were coming towards them and they didn’t even bother to dismount. They had white cycle helmets and their jackets said they were POLICE COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICERS.


Another rant against cyclists (for slowing down car drivers) here.