As most of you probably know- I’m a cyclist! I started riding 2 years ago in order to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer and recently began riding to and from work most days. During my time as a cyclist I’ve had my fair share of abuse from motorists, but not until I started commuting did the cyclist vs pedestrian war come to my attention.
I feel very lucky that the majority of my 20km commute is along shared pathways- however it is this that had exposed me to those pedestrians amongst us that don’t want to share. Tonight I had an encounter with one of these ‘cranky pants’. As riding up a particularly steep part of a shared path in Brisbane, the cyclist infront if me and I were purposely blocked by an older man who exclaimed ‘What is this a bike or pedestrian path?’ To which I quickly replied ‘Both’ whilst struggling to not only keep my breath but also my anger under control. His response astounded me ‘Get your own!’ My own what… Path?! Trust me Mr I would love to, but where do you suggest I find such a path?
What I can’t quite grasp is where this cyclist orientated angst from certain pedestrians comes from? Whilst I don’t agree with it, I do understand why some not so patient motorist get frustrated with cyclists…but why pedestrians? Are we to pedestrians what drivers are to us? Are the small percentage of cyclists that ride not so safely on shared pathways ruining it for the rest of us? Or are these pedestrians also the cyclist hating motorist when they get behind the wheel?
What I would love to point out to these people is that we are on the paths because we don’t feel safe on the roads, and the pathways themselves are fraught with dangers (pedestrians who lack self awareness or are distracted with music or smart phones). Don’t get me wrong, the majority if pedestrians at very courteous! What I can’t understand is where this sense of entitlement of those pedestrians who don’t want to share comes from? What harm am I doing by riding to work each day? I give pedestrians plenty of warning by sounding my bell. I thank every pedestrian that moves out of my road. I slow down to overtake so not to scare anyone and I remain VERY aware of my surroundings and where your pets or kids may be heading if they too are on the paths. I’m reducing traffic by reducing the number if cars on the road. I’m using an environmentally friendly form of transport and greatly reducing carbon emissions. Tell me why then do I not have the right to do all of the above? What happened to respecting others? What I would love to point out to these people is one day their mother/father/sister/brother or loved one may too take up cycling…where will they be able to ride? Would they really rather they were on the not so safe roads where cyclists are truly vulnerable? It’s time for us all to show each other some respect and learn to share!
Some tips for safe sharing of pathways….
1. Give plenty of warning!
2. Watch your speed! A cyclist speeding past can be be very scary for pedestrians.
3. Use your lights
4. Be polite. Thank those that move out of your way. Greet fellow cyclist/pedestrians
1. Be predictable and keep left
2. Be aware of what your children and pets are up to
3. Be courteous and don’t intentionally block pathways.