I admit it - I was one of those drivers who hates cyclists. I hated the way they jump the lights, the way they hop onto the pavement, the way they brush your wing mirror when sneaking down the passenger side of your car at junctions, the way they shout indignantly as you go about your journey to work. I found cyclists rude, aggressive, selfish and self righteous. And then I bought a bike.
Don't get me wrong. I still think cyclists can be all of those things. As a new, and admittedly nervous, cyclist I still find some aggressive and dangerous to be around. They don't all seem a very friendly bunch at the traffic lights, or even in Richmond Park. But I am also seeing the other side of the story. The journey to work from home is between 10 and 12 miles, depending on the route I take. I spend all my time cursing the useless drivers : the ones on their phones who haven't noticed me, the ones who edge out of the junction regardless, the taxi drivers who seem to deliberately get in my way, cut me up and drive by too close and the bus drivers who pull off from the bus stop when I'm still passing them. I always knew cycling would be dangerous, and every cyclist I ask has been knocked off at some point by a car or person opening their door. I guess it is only a matter of time for me too. I just have to hope it isn't before May 31st. I'm thinking of joining those using Go-Pro cameras on their bikes/helmets to show how awful the other road users are. Am I sounding self-righteous enough yet?
Jon Snow is forever telling me the only answer is properly separated cycle lanes through towns and cities - and he's probably right. The thin pot-holed strips down many roads at the moment that are supposed to be cycle lanes often seem more dangerous than the road itself. But is it ever going to happen? Would other road users pay for it? As a driver I'd probably have paid a few pounds extra to get cyclists off "my" roads. But I'm probably in the minority. It is probably only a matter of time before somebody thinks of a cycle tax. And then watch all hell break loose!