This morning I first wish to declare an interest.
I am an “all or nothing” type of guy, me. About a dozen years ago a brother of mine rang me up and asked if I’d be interested in joining him and his eldest son – either just out of school or just about to go to university, I cannot recall which – in an attempt to cycle from Guildford to Chichester on the south coast as a rehearsal for a major multi-mile charity bike ride that they were going to undertake about a month later in Devon whilst on holiday.
On a whim, I said yes. Later that day I therefore walked down my hometown road to an upmarket bicycling shop and, about forty minutes later, walked out again having bought a £650 “half road, half off-road” bike, pairs of cycling shorts and trainers, plus examples of the latest style in lycra cycling shirts, thigh-long lycra shorts and safety helmet … a dozen sugar/energy-gell-filled sachets .. and a massive stainless steel water bottle. Total outlay not a million miles away from £1,000.
I can record that – without the slightest warm-up, practice or rehearsal outings – we then duly completed our epic marathon trip, albeit not without one or two “adventures” along the way, and – for someone then in my mid-late fifties – I felt certain sense of satisfaction and achievement.
After that, dear reader, I rarely used my new bike.
Because of my antipathy towards all cyclists – and admitted also the dangers of being a cyclist competing with motorised traffic – I never used it again on the roads of Britain.
Instead, for a period of about six months, I occasionally rode it on pavements and/or paths alongside the River Thames when going round to a business colleague’s house near St Margaret’s in west London for work and/or social meetings – but then later gifted it to my daughter who was moving out towards Oxford and thinking of acquiring a bicycle herself.
All the cycling accoutrements I had acquired either joined my “general clothes for taking of exercise in” wardrobe and/or else gradually got thrown out and taken to the Mortlake rubbish dump in successive clear-outs of no longer used items.
By total coincidence – as it happens – my daughter Grace, husband and grandson are coming to visit this weekend and (after a recent phone call) will be bringing my former bicycle with them: Grace had asked whether I’d like it back because she has now bought a female-friendly triathlon version and doesn’t any longer need it.
As a result I shall be attempting to use it for taking exercise “off road” in the locality I moved to some eleven months ago.
Which brings me to the purpose of my post today.
I’ve always held the conviction that cyclists on the roads of Britain constitute a plague upon the Earth, possessed as they are of an over-developed sense of arrogance and entitlement; total disrespect for all other forms of traffic; zero road “manners”; a tendency to ride side-by-side wherever possible in order to frustrate and annoy other road users; without ever stopping, a tendency to “ride straight through” all sets of traffic lights (irrespective of what colour they are displaying) at between 20 to 30 mph; and finally – this the worst outrage of all – a complete inability at any time of the day or night to have any consideration for ordinary pedestrians.
Earlier this week media stories began appearing that at last the Government was considering introducing legislation to force cyclists to fix number plates to their cycles; obtain “cycling licences” (akin to the driving kind); obtain general insurance (akin to the motoring equivalent); keep to a maximum speed limit of 20 mph at all times; and make them subject to the award of “speeding fines/award of speeding licence points” (just as motorists are) if they transgress it.
In the context of which, I wonder why the following report – appearing upon the website of the Daily Mail today – doesn’t surprise me in the slightest – see here – DAILY MAIL