Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Just a bicycle

They say Cambridge is a city of cyclists. At least it seems to be full of them and they are the only sane mode of transport that can get you to places in the town centre. It might not be the city FOR cyclists, however. The facilities for cyclists - well, I've seen worse but I've seen better. There are good bicycle lanes here and there, there is access to the historic city centre (that is closed from cars other than buses and taxis) and there are places you can leave the bike while shopping, at lectures etc.

On the other hand, many cycle lanes are shared with the buses, who don't give a damn about cyclists, the city centre is so full of tourists walking here and there on the roads that you can't really cycle through the centre without killing a few of them every time, and there are not nearly enough parking places for cycles in the centre.

So, some good, some bad. I'd still rather cycle in Cambridge than drive a car in Cambridge. But that brings me to the issue that has annoyed me a lot lately. The behaviour of car drivers, and the utter disregard of cyclists. When turning across the lane, pulling over for parking, making a u-turn or doing anything else similar, any driver would first need to make sure the road is clear for them to do the manoeuvre. And for 95% of the drivers, the road is clear if there are no cars. For the rest 5%, the road is clear if there are no cars larger than the one they are driving. No one gives a fiddle about cyclists.

Today I almost crashed to a car that was coming towards me on the opposite lane, but just in front of me changed to my lane, stopped, and started to pocket park to the parking space on my side of the road. She would have left any car to go first before doing this, but since I was just a cycle...

Cyclists are better off crossing roads with pedestrian greens rather than waiting for the car signal to go green, since the cars turning right across your lane will not look, stop or wait for you to cross the road first, they are cars and can comfortably mow a few cyclists down without blinking an eye.

Sitting in the inevitable queue in the car is a skill as well. Most people already know to stay in the middle of the lane or closer to the centre line, so that cyclists can pass from the left, between the sidewalk and the cars. Some people don't. Some people will move to that space without looking, possibly to give more space (a lane and a half) to the oncoming vehicle and to save their precious wingmirrors from scratching. I will personally thrash the other mirror of the next idiot who does that, since I'm getting rather pissed off with these I-can-only-see-it-if-it-weighs-two-tons-and-has-four-wheels -bimbos.

BTW, how come so many crazy people still cycle without helmets?


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