Saturday, 2 November 2013

The workmate who accused me of pavement riding on Freaky Friday

Halloween Friday this week, technically the 1st of November but it still ascribes to my definition of Freaky Friday (and Friday that has a month end on or right before it; with a change in the weather - its been sunny, stormy, rainy and cold all in the space of a few days - like all four seasons in one week; falls on a bank or school holiday - its been half term for a lot of schools and colleges around here)...

...I got into work on Friday morning thanking the Great Spaghetti Monster that I'd made it through a hellish week. Everything that can go wrong has - we've been short-staffed, machinery is constantly breaking down, two customers have threatened staff with one having to be escorted away by security. I've probably lost my shit on two occasions as a result of someone else's inability to do the job they're paid for.

So it was some light relief when the guy I work with asked of me "..was that you I saw riding on the pavement toward's Ikea?" We've known each other for about 3-4 years. He knows my views on pavement riding - that I understand when you're dealing with urban motorways how people can be frightened from the road. He also knows that I don't appreciate seeing adults riding on pavements when the road is quiet and safe, and that I would far rather people fight for change than commit to minor law breaking.

I can be dogmatic in my views at times, seeing the world in black and white where others see shades of grey. Something is either moral or it isn't. It is either legal or it isn't.

I had to think for a second. The only path I ride on in that general area is outside the Novatel (just a large hotel chain in Southampton). As it turned out this is where he and his Brother, who had been driving at the time, had seen me. When you look at the route it is pretty unclear to others that this is also a cycle route - there is no colour delineation, no physical segregation from pedestrians, the signs are small and unobtrusive.

It is a fact that I've rung the bell when approaching pedestrians and had them turn around and say "..there's the road, mate!" How can anyone possibly know that bikes are to be expected or allowed if standards of design are so low and varied? This is probably why CTC have in the past criticised removing cyclists from the road, but now it appears even they are being won around to other countries' standards of approach to cycling and how it can grow.


  1. The flip side of "stealth" cycling infrastructure, is that it's often invisible to wouldbe cyclists as well.

    This means that it often misses one of it's important functions which is to encourage people to cycle. This in turn leads to the "we spend £££ on cycle paths and no one uses them" rants.

    UK really needs to make cycling infra obvious with well defined signs and routes. A few campaigns like Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh have been developing "strategic routes" along similar lines to the tube map. Some routes are still only on paper, but if the signing can be transferred onto the ground in a conspicuous way they will be a very good idea.

  2. It's weird how the culture and infrastructure in the UK seems hell-bent on treating cyclists like they're driving cars. Unless it suddenly swaps to treating them like pedestrians.

    One example is toucan crossings. The lights go green for pedestrians and cyclists to cross simultaneously, but where does the cyclist's "right-of-way" start and end? Obviously not at the kerb as that would be ridiculous, but how far onto the pavement can you ride? Can I ride from the cycle-path over the pavement to the toucan?

    There's a whole section of pavement here in Manchester where I rode with a TfGM employee - it's right near their building and ends at toucan crossings. He explained it's shared use, but there are no markings or signs...