Cycling in the city
Sir, – The people who benefit most from cycling are city motorists. This is not always obvious to the motorist.
A cyclist who scrupulously obeys all the rules of the road can still seem like a pedal-powered jaywalker to a driver. Cyclists travel at different speeds to cars, and will slow down or speed up depending on which way the wind is blowing, whether they are going uphill or downhill, or how tired they happen to be – it can be very difficult to judge whether or when to yield to an approaching cyclist. That is if you see them at all. Bicycles travel at the edge of the road or lane, and flit alarmingly in and out of a driver’s peripheral vision.
Sharing the road with them might seem an awkward nuisance to contend with, on top of all of the other stresses we have to cope with when trying to get to and from work.
For all that, having bicycles mixed in with city traffic is a lot less inconvenient than having more cars on the road. If several thousand cyclists were to decide to drive into work instead of taking the bike, rush-hour traffic would be far worse. There would be far more delays and disruption, and drivers stuck in traffic jams would bear the brunt of it.
From the cyclist’s perspective the benefits of cycling can come at a very high cost. It is great to get some exercise on the way into work, and it is nice not being held up in traffic jams, but the constant danger posed by careless, inattentive or aggressive drivers offsets these benefits considerably.
Travelling by bike does not suit everyone, but more people would cycle if it were safer to do so. Adapting our behaviour so that we become more aware of vulnerable roads users, and take more heed of their safety, could do a lot to encourage cycling.
More bikes on the road means less pollution, and fewer traffic jams. We all benefit from this, but the reduction in traffic benefits drivers the most. – Yours, etc,