I would bet that if you conducted a survey of a hundred people and asked what the Western World's contemporary aspirations were, Being Green and Keeping Fit would be up there in the top five.

Call me cynical, but I believe this is why we cyclists are hated with a passion by motorists and pedestrians alike. In combining both 21st Century aspirations in one quick and easy activity, we make non-cyclists feel bad about themselves and they have no choice but to vent their collective spleens.

I have talked about cycling before, and once again freely admit that there are a number of cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name. You've probably seen them speeding the wrong way down the cyclepath before (somehow) leaping up onto the pavement and weaving in and out of bewildered shoppers before bouncing back into the traffic again and rocketing through a red light. All without a helmet or reflective gear of course, and usually talking on their mobiles whilst doing it.

But we're not all like that. I would go so far as to say the majority of us aren't like that. Nevertheless this behaviour is used as an excuse by the non-cyclists to direct their hatred at all of us; the real source of this hatred is of course their own self loathing.

Whatever the reason for the abuse, it doesn't half get on my wick.

I recently availed myself of an innovation that was being introduced in the Brighton area; the Bike Train. For someone like me who's been "involved in an accident that wasn't my fault" it sounded like a godsend. A convoy of cyclists moving as one in a lane of traffic would make me feel far safer. It would probably decrease the time of my journey as well; since the accident I found that I was cycling far slower than I had been (much to the irritation of people behind me); hopefully a buffer zone of other cyclists would give me to confidence to speed up again.

And it worked. I spent a week Bike Training and not only did I feel safer, I was getting into work earlier. However, I find myself in two minds about rejoining it when it is "officially" launched in a couple of weeks.

It's the abuse. I thought I had it bad before with motorists and pedestrians snapping and sighing at me when I was cycling solo, but that's nothing to the abuse suffered when I joined the bike train. Not only did we get outraged motorists bellowing "Get back in the farking cycle lane!" (despite the fact that it's all perfectly legal and above board) from the safety of their SUVs, but there was considerable invective from pedestrians who weren't affected in the slightest by our activity.

The first one I noticed was a beardy weirdy smelly catweazle type standing on the pavement yelling that we were "holding up the traffic!" (this despite the fact that we were whizzing past him on a mostly empty road at the time). Then the next day a sweet little silver haired old lady in a powder blue coat took time out from walking her scottie dog to inform us that "the cycle lane is over there!"

I don't know what problems these people have (although in the case of the motorists it's probably because shaving that extra two seconds or two metres off their journey is SO IMPORTANT) but they're certainly putting me off taking part again. Not because I get so upset that I start weeping into my coffee once I arrive at work, but that this kind of abuse so enrages me that I start fantasising about pulling over and inflicting some U-Lock Justice on a windscreen or skull which is bad for my state of mind.

I don't want to arrive in work in a state of murderous road rage. If the good citizens of Brighton and Hove can't control their tempers I'm going to have to avoid using the Bike Train for the sake of my own sanity. A pity, as it's a brilliant innovation.

3 comments

  1. Anonymous  

    Worth giving it another go! Haven't experienced the abuse you've documented here... We ride with a big sign behind us now, which makes a real difference to how cars behave towards the ride. We've got music on all the rides now and great atmosphere. Becoming a regular sight now along Lewes Road and support from public is building, which is great! Ride needs regular supporters so join if you can! Check out www.biketrain.org + follow us on Twitter. Hopefully see you on a ride soon!

  2. Robert Dunn  

    Could youexplain why - when they ar available - cycle lanes are not used. There is no question that the motorised traffic finds it hard to overtake a large number of slow moving cyclists and long queues can form. You MIGHT not be breaking the law (although what you do seems to go against the Highway Code's directions) but you will be making a lot of enemies of other road users, particularly if bike lanes are deliberately ignored.

  3. Chris  

    @Robert Dunn: At the moment cycle lanes ARE used by me because I find the whole business of "making a lot of enemies" and the associated abuse this entails distressing.

Post a Comment