A recent column in the FT spoke about a dislike for cyclists. While in general the columnist's reasons showed that he's a twat, a couple of points stand out -

1) Cyclists do not pay any form of tax. Yet, they (oh heck, might as well admit it...we) use public facilities which are maintained by and paid for (in part, at least) by road taxes, licence fees, and other such stuff that motorists have to.

2) There is no concerted effort to apply road-rules to cyclists. Sure, if a warden catches them hurdling past a light, they can be caught and fined. But, from what one has seen, this practice is minimal.

Now, cycling is to be recommended. It gives some people the only exercise they get everyday, doesn't cause CO2 levels to jump too much, and is a heck of a lot more cost-effective than even public transport. Especially if you can buy a cheap bike on eBay - in which case, you're a fiscal genius.

But - cyclists are also a dangerous bunch. And smug. But dangerous mostly.
The light's gone red? Ah go on - how much space do we need anyway.
Traffic's moving too slowly on a narrow lane? Hello - do you not see the pavement?
People are walking on this pedestrian-only pavement? Stupid people! Stupid government! Yeehaw!

However, try and overtake a cyclist, or cross the road when they're 15 feet away, and you're bound to trigger off an outraged explosion not seen since Cleopatra told Caesar to kneel to her (what a dame, eh...abase thyself, Julius, abase!).

And, invariably, you get retaliated against for some other pisspot's indiscipline, despite always cycling in keeping with the qualifications required to win the "Ideal Model Superperfect Darling Cyclist In The Universe. Ever. And Ever" award.

So, maybe it is time that cyclists are made more accountable. Thus so -

1) Pay a yearly tax. Which could be minimal, like it is for 'green' cards, and could be waived for young children. In return, we could have more cycle lanes, cycle paths, and cycle traffic light crossings.

2) Get a licence/registration. Which could be for an individual, rather than for the vehicle, because anyone who's had a bike knows how it tends to get modified so often that the final version looks the fifth cousin thrice-removed of the original.

But wait....some bikes should patently not be allowed on roads - like kiddie bikes and trainer bikes. Ok, so bike frames could have a licence number too. But a plate is just not happening. And number-sticker could be torn off. And a painted number could be resprayed. And you wouldn't want to carve the number onto the frame. Hmm. Actually, a painted number is probably the best bet. Along with a separate card that you could carry to show that you are the owner.

3) Get road cyclists to take a basic test, so they know how to navigate roundabouts and can read signs.

All of this need not cost much, nor need too much time. It could also, potentially, lead to a safer experience for drivers, riders, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Should we start a campaign?


Revealed said...

There is no concerted effort to apply road-rules to cyclists.

Remember in Wisconsin, one year? Where they had the More Responsible Cyclists campaign? And there were Charlies in the bushes who would jump out at cyclists (who were never heard from again?)?

??! said...

well, they have a few of those every year - National Cycling Week and stuff. But it's too haphazard - and crucially, voluntary.

Levy the tax, I say. Levy it good, baby (now that would be such good porn dialogue).

Tabula Rasa said...

excellent ideas. but in return for a tax, i want more cyclists-only lanes. it's weird when a lane just ends, or you turn off the road and have to go onto the sidewalk. and left turns (here in the us) can get a little crazy.

i also want covered bike stands and more downhill roads.

??! said...

yeh, those cycle lanes are weird - some of them are only 25 metres long, and you're looking around trying to figure out why it was put there in the first place.

and more covered stands yes!

The Bride said...

I don't agree with the tax bit. If you want to encourage more people to use greener modes of transport you can't tax them. But yes, there should be fines for irresponsible driving err... riding

??! said...

Agree in theory. But then if more people turn towards bikes and buses, who will maintain them? The government - which is more interested in building bombs and flying ministers around in first-class?