Car, bike, foot: We must all be more tolerant
It saddens me to see the continuing antipathy, particularly expressed through the Mercury's letters page, between drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. As someone who is at different times all of these, it seems a shame there cannot be better understanding and greater mutual respect.
All of us wish to reach our destination as quickly as reasonably possible, as well as safely.
Maximising the use of the shared space to do this is not easy, but surely not as difficult as some make out. Consideration for others is at the heart of this.
Drivers' complaints about cyclists mainly relate to two aspects. The first is they tend to cause delays, as considerate drivers wait for a suitable place to pass rather than pushing through oncoming traffic and brushing the cyclist.
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Secondly, they are seen to flout some of the rules of the road. Red light jumping is a contentious issue, but in reality most cyclists do it only when it is safe or safer to do it than not. Lack of cycle lighting or adequate visibility is often voiced.
Pedestrians' complaints, of course, mainly centre on one aspect – cycling on pavements.
Over many years of cycle commuting, I have used designated pavements and cycleways, as well as the roads in my village and in the city.
Most arterial routes have "blue sign" shared space and this is very valuable. My experience is one feels a lot safer segregated from traffic on the fast-moving routes.
Once in town, the slower average speed is much more comfortable.
Of course, cyclists have particular responsibilities when they are on such designated routes and, sadly, this is frequently not observed, causing alarm and occasionally injury to pedestrians.
Perhaps it might be helped by a separate strip at the outer edge of the pavement for the use of cycles. Cycling on non-designated pavements is, of course, to be condemned.
Taking the cyclists' point of view, it is understandable they feel beleaguered, being on the receiving end from both drivers and pedestrians.
Their perceived misdemeanours are valid, with some reservations. Cyclists do have a responsibility to be more concerned about the safety and comfort of others.
However, they are a particularly vulnerable group, as borne out by the statistics.
In view of this, they would very much welcome greater consideration from drivers and, perhaps, some greater tolerance from pedestrians.
It would be to the benefit of all groups to be more aware and more accommodating.
Charles Kendall is a recently retired doctor with an interest in cycling issues.