Tuesday 3 October 2023

The clear and present danger of irresponsible cyclists

The bane of powered vehicles

Beyond the terror of devil dogs that I wrote about recently, it is electric-powered bicycles and scooters that have become a menace on our roads. That fact that the human-powered element of pedalling or scooting means that the concentration of thought and process in the engagement of muscle is diverted elsewhere and that, in itself, becomes a kind of distraction.

Blog - Opinion: Public safety is paramount regardless of your cuddly dog

The bicycles or scooters whiz off at speed with the riders literally oblivious of the responsibility and due concern that comes with being in charge of such a vehicle. That and their inclination to ignore traffic and road usage rules along with pedestrians being terrorised on the pavements makes them a clear and present danger to others and themselves.

An uncaring cohort for safety

What baffles me and I have written about this having lived in Amsterdam is how riders can ply busy streets or pavements at night without lights. Usually, the riders are in dark clothing, and you are usually unaware of their proximity to you until they are so close, you have to avert a collision if they are totally uncaring.

I could go on about my concerns and bugbears, but the reason for this blog is a rather close encounter for which I should curb the urge to be dramatic even as my recollection of it leaves me in a shudder as to how it could have been a lot worse and it does not bear thinking of apart from lifting up hands in gratitude for being spared an inauspicious ending.

What just happened?

I was at a bus stop leaning on the inside wall of the enclosure with a foot out speaking to my friend on the phone, when suddenly I had a knock on the outside of my left knee and sudden surge of pain over the top of my midfoot, the shock with a directed gaze to a young man crashing off his bicycle as he came to find out if he had hit me.

“Are you crazy?” I shouted out at him, a bystander who saw everything was totally nonchalant that I wonder if I had taken the full impact of that collision whether she would have bothered to help or call for any help. She was in a Tesco supermarket top, my views of that are best left off this blog.

An entrenched lawlessness

However, the lawlessness of the whole encounter and how one was ill-equipped to find any sort of redress and sanction just left me wanting to nurse my bruises than do much else as very little would have been learnt by the cyclist as I upbraided him.

He was riding a hired electric bike on a busy road against the traffic, and he decided to cut away unto the wide pavement to take another shortcut over the pavement to ride against the traffic avoiding an intersection or junction. As he tried to mount the pavement, he hit the kerb, lost control, and ran into me and crashed some 10 metres further on before coming over to find out if I was okay.

He would have done this weaving through obstacles and dangers, hardly slowly down to assess the full risk of any manoeuvre, a young exuberance overwhelming any sense of caution or responsibility to others, daring to do rather than caring at all, I could have lost it and decked him, but that was unnecessary.

But for the grace of God

As he left to pick up his bicycle and ride away, I remembered I was still on a call with my friend and continued the call. However, when I thought about it this morning, this chap is probably doing an electrically propelled 30 mph or 48.2 km/h. A full-on collision or if I had been pinned against the wall of the bus stop could have wiped me out, needing hospital care. It was a close shave.

There is no doubt that the law has to catch up with this the road usage of electrically propelled bicycles and scooters, I also wonder of a new set of rules need to be written and there is no doubt that policing with the strict enforcement of the said rules is essential for adherence and deterrence. There have been too many accidents, some resulting in fatalities and many attributable to irresponsible road usage. It needs to be addressed with alacrity.

You can be minding your own business and out of nowhere danger invades your space, it is the grace of God that keeps us. For that, we are very thankful.

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