Friday really was the last straw. This letter goes to those of you - you know who you are - who treat pedestrians like dirt. Those of you who assume all pedestrians deliberately exist just to annoy you and who think that we should all bow to how superior a road-user you are.
I realise that there are some cyclists out there who aren't like this, who take care when they're riding and follow the rules of the road. To you guys, I say thank you. This letter isn't for you and isn't intended to offend you, but sometimes things just have to be said.
So what happened on Friday that's made it necessary for me to write to you? Picture the scene.....I'm walking through a temporary tunnel, put up along the Thames Path due to building work. The tunnel is pretty narrow, and you can't walk more than 3 abreast, at a squeeze. At both ends, in big capital letters, are signs that say 'CYCLISTS PLEASE DISMOUNT'. What would you do?
I know what the cyclist I saw that day did. He certainly didn't take any notice of the signs. Instead he cycled past me, nearly knocking me into the wall, then came up to someone walking the other way. There was room to cycle past this man, which the cyclist could easily have done, but instead he stopped right in front of him, told him he was walking on the wrong side of the tunnel - even though there were no signs instructing use of a particular side - and that he should move out of his way. The man moved, but mentioned the fact that this guy shouldn't have been on his bike, and got a string of verbal abuse as his thank you for getting out of this moron's way.
You know who you are, the cyclists who think you rule every road and pavement. Who think if you cycle on the pavement - which, by the way, is intended for pedestrians - we should all scurry out of your way. Who think we should have eyes in the backs of our heads to tell us when you're behind us, so that we don't inconvenience you.
I realise sometimes my fellow pedestrians don't help, by not looking out for bikes when they cross the roads. But this doesn't justify you treating all of us this way or just completely flouting the rules of the road. When I wait at a pedestrian crossing and the green man lights up, shockingly enough I'm going to cross the road. How dare you cycle through, waving your fist at me as though I'm in the wrong for doing so? And the same goes for zebra crossings too.
We all have to deal with some of the shockingly stupid things that drivers do, so do we really need to be antagonising each other too? I promise that I do, and will continue to, look out for bikes when I cross the roads, and not just assume that if a driver waves me across that it's safe to go. And I also promise that I'll try my best not to get in your way. But in return, I need a few promises from you....
Please stop running red lights at pedestrian crossings when I'm trying to cross. And certainly don't get angry with me for being there - would you rather I just ran across roads risking my neck every time? And if I'm at a zebra crossing and the cars have stopped for me, please stop too and let me cross - and don't nearly clip my heels as you try to squeeze by behind me when I've only just set out.
Don't ring your bell and shout at me, when I clearly just haven't seen you. I would love to be able to see behind me, without turning my head, but unfortunately I can't. A quick ring at your bell will more than suffice to get me to take notice. And if there are signs saying that you shouldn't be on your bike, please get off it. Those signs are usually there for a reason, and I don't know why you think they don't apply to you.
At the end of the day, we're both doing something good. We're getting some exercise and we're not polluting the planet on our commute. We've got things in common, but you need to recognise that.
And if you're not going to do those things, then I can't promise anything either. If you insist on being a bad cyclist in London and you try anything stupid with a girl with long, dark hair, then woe betide you, because I have had enough!
Yours most sincerely,