Spring is here bringing with it a sense of well-being. The blackbirds are singing and those with open top cars get a chance to pretend they’re on a Monte Carlo road as it zigzags down to the coast. Yet even at this time of the year there is a preventable danger lurking round every 90 degree corner. The untrained, ill-equipped, under insured cyclist. I was reminded of this the other day as I stepped out of my front door onto the pavement and was nearly knocked down by an adult as he gaily hammered along the pavement on his bike without a care in the world. After that I noticed them everywhere. People of all ages riding pushbikes on pavements or jumping the red lights at junctions. There are even some who dress to impress. They have everything: helmets, super expensive light racing bikes, lights, spandex, enthusiasm: you name it they’ve got it. Yet one evening last week as I was returning home along the road between Rockingham and Gretton and I could hardly believe my eyes. Not two, or three, but there were four bike riders abreast on a narrow bendy country road. It seems the two things they left at home were their lack of how to behave on the public highway and any semblance of common sense. Some will even get angry at the suggestion that they might be a danger to others. Well, here’s the truth: some of you are! When we drive a vehicle on the road there are a few things we need in our back pocket. Licence, tax, insurance and M.O.T. So why is it that I could just go and buy a bike, perhaps stick a pretty little carriage on the back with two four year olds in it, and immediately have the right to ride it on the road or the pavement? Incidentally, I saw a woman with her two children performing exactly this last Tuesday. If one were to be hit by a pushbike on the pavement, regardless of the age of the rider, who is going to pay for hospital care or loss of earnings? If a car hits a cyclist that has run a red light at a junction whose fault is it?
When we were young there was a thing called the cycling proficiency test which one could take at school, but even that wasn’t compulsory. Today the world of cycling is much faster and sophisticated and, in my humble opinion, needs some kind of re-assessment. Children and adults riding a bike should be comprehensively insured. Their machine should always be in a roadworthy condition – I’m sure we’d all agree to that one. The fly in the ointment with all of this is, of course, policing. There isn’t any. Oh, by way of a reminder, it is still, and always has been, illegal to ride ones bike on a pavement though one would be forgiven for thinking that this law had been abolished due to mass ignorance.