But not only are cyclists repeatedly intruding into areas where they shouldn’t be, they can’t even be civil about it. In my experience, any attempt to challenge the right of the two-wheeled menace to invade the pavement will be met with a volley of abuse or blank incomprehension. I have yet to encounter a single offender willing to apologize for being where he/she should not have been.
Recently I’ve grown bored with this one-sided argument. I tend to stand aside and give way to encroaching cyclists rather than risk a situation where I might be driven to punch one of them. But a recent incident in which both my parents were mowed down by a speeding bike rider outside their home has reminded me that I’m not the one most at risk from their antisocial antics. No, it is small children, the elderly, and those with impaired hearing who are most likely to get in the way of approaching bicycles. And iPod users beware: pedestrians with headphones welded to their ears are just waiting to be mowed down.
Now I know that motorists and cyclists have their own life and death issues to deal with, judging by some of the posts on the Raging Bike website. But that’s something for our politicians and law enforcers to deal with. I’m just heartily sick of being caught in the crossfire between aggressive motorists and rude cyclists. The fact that cyclists feel, perhaps justifiably, victimized by motorists does not give them the right to make the pavements hazardous for pedestrians.
Perhaps those cyclists who feel the need to flout the law should remember that they, too, are pedestrians. We don’t all own cars or bikes but every able-bodied citizen has to walk sometimes – even if it’s just those few yards between their vehicle and the front door.
In her 2002 novel The Red and the Green, Iris Murdoch dubbed the bicycle "the most civilized conveyance known to man" . It seems to me that some of its newest devotees – flushed with their "green” credentials – need a reminder about the old-fashioned virtues of humility and good manners.