Drivers ignore the rules, too

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From: Luke Desforges

Coverdale Road, Sheffield S7

Mark Kahn complains that “most cyclists do not obey the rules of the road”. Over the page, News in Brief reports that a binman has been left fighting for his life after a car driver mounted the pavement and hit him. On another page, road police officers report seeing drivers using mobile phones, laptops and even reading a book.

When I walk my children to school, we cross Abbeydale Road at a junction where it is common for two or three cars to continue through the traffic lights after they have turned red (amber appears to mean “next two cars speed up”), and we negotiate a pavement which is always blocked by parked cars.

As Mr Kahn says, people riding bikes have a responsibility on the road, but they are not driving a large heavy piece of metal machinery operated at speeds which can and regularly do injure and kill thousands of people in the UK every year. Drivers have a responsibility for the danger caused by their vehicles. A person on a bike rarely poses such dangers. Many of the complaints against bikes listed by Mr Kahn are not against the law - you don’t have to ride with a helmet or wear high visibility clothing. You don’t have to ride in cycle lanes, and indeed many such lanes encourage cyclists to ride too close to the curb for their own safety. As for red lights, it is now accepted in many cities that it is safer for a bike rider to start before other traffic so they can be properly seen.

To equate someone wobbling on their bike with a bus driver using a vehicle to physically assault a fellow road user is an astonishing argument to make. We need to direct our attention to the habitual ignoring of the rules of the road by drivers, which makes our city worse for all of us by endangering our lives every day.