London Cycling.

Another day and the tragic news of another cyclists death in London.

It is dreadful for the person’s families and friends to have their loved ones lives cut short. It will undoubtably also affect the driver, police and paramedics involved and lets not forget the innocent bystanders.

Obviously I can not comment on the circumstances of any of the collisions that have led to the deaths in London this year, nor do I suggest that any of those cyclists have behaved or flaunted the law in the way that the following cyclists have conducted themselves in this photo-story.

At this point, before any cyclist start to get their knickers in a twist, I commute around my city by bicycle, motorcycle, on foot, all forms of public transport and much, much, much less frequently I drive.

I know how badly maintained the roads are, I know how congested they are, while on two wheels I was involved in a serious road traffic collision that left me with several fractures; for these reasons I believe I am well placed to give an unbiased view of London’s roads. At least I thought I was………

Starting this photo project opened my eyes to just how badly many London cyclists behave. Yeah Yeah its not just the cyclists. I get that but this project was started to look at cycling with intensions of following on with projects looking at other road users.

To start the project I decided I would take a picture at a crossing point I use frequently and is often chaotic with cyclists and pedestrians all dodging each other.

There are runners almost running into everyone, the ‘lycra-lout’ on light weight road bikes taking off at speed and riding head-on into everyone; I kind of get the sense that some of these people are looking for conflict with the more sedate that are trying to avoid getting caught up in the unruliness.

But then how can it be anything other than a chaotic and unruly, in this day and age where common sense appears to be lacking and people are used to our nanny state looking after them or dictating how they should behave rather than taking responsibility for themselves.

At this particular crossing, along with many others, nothing directs them to separate themselves from each other and their lack of forward vision means they can not see beyond their own noses; not even thinking they should use the left side of the crossing. We drive on the left so that seems logical to me but then maybe we have too many tourists that drive on the right using the hire bikes.

In my photo the police are not exactly setting a good example. I’m guessing they’ve forgotten what they were taught on their public safety cycling course.

Image 1

This crossing point is often very messy and I have seen a number of arguments break out here.

Most cycle lanes in London are nothing more than just painted sections in the road. Even within cycle lanes I’ve seen many example of cyclists not showing the slightest consideration for their fellow cyclists.

Below are two lanes, one for those heading north and one for cyclists traveling south. As you can see, the cyclists traveling south clearly think they are more important than cyclist heading north.

Image 3

Cyclists obstructed by a bus due to poor syncing of traffic signals. Southbound cyclists obstructing the northbound cycle lane.

Is it an arrogance or just a poor design? I don’t know. I’d like to say it is the design but after observing for a couple of days I think it is more likely to be plain and simple stupidity.

Okay that might be a tad harsh so to even the balance a little the next image shows pedestrians strolling along the same cycle lanes with no consideration or awareness that it is even a cycle lane with a cyclist being held up behind them.

Image 4

Pedestrians oblivious that they are strolling alone and across a cycle lane.

The next cycle lane is also occupied by a pedestrian. The pavement to her left was empty yet she decided to walk in the cycle lane and again appeared oblivious that it is a contraflow lane with motor vehicles approaching her from the front and cyclist coming from behind. Inconsiderate, stupid or just thoughtless? She is the sort that wonders around the West-end and Covent Garden like it is a pedestrian zone. You know what; as a road user in/on private or public transport, you’re the type of person holding me up.

Image 5

So it seems that if pedestrians are in cycle lanes it is okay for these next cyclists to decide they wouldn’t use the cycle lanes but opt to ride straight at a pedestrians.

Image 6

Image 9.

How about these cyclists riding across a zebra crossing without warning and forcing the driver to stop under emergency conditions. Seems like a reasonable and fun thing to do.

Image 8

Fortunately the other driver had already stopped for the pedestrian walking towards me.

The ones that bug me are those that ride on pavements. More specifically those that ride on pavements at any speed and no consideration for pedestrians. Those same bloody speed merchants that hammer along the footpath at the side of the canals ringing their bloody bells constantly to beast people out of their way.

Its a pavement, a foot path, a pedestrian crossing for pedestrians.

What about those cyclists that ride through roadworks where people are actually working. Plenty of people are injured by cyclists and receive anything from minor soft tissue injuries to more serious injuries requiring surgery. I get to see this first hand, day in, day out. The signs are there for all road users. Ignoring them puts yourself and others at risk of injury and death. Ignoring these road signs that are placed for our safety is not clever, its dangerous.

Image 10

As a motorcyclist and driver I find it frustrating when cyclists interrupt my progress because they are riding the wrong way up a one way street or on the wrong side of the road.

You know what, I don’t want to hurt you, I’ve avoided you, you’ve not gotten away with it because you’re cool, smart or clever, you are uninjured because I slowed down, stopped or moved over. You’re actions affected me. Why do you think your progress is so much more important than mine? Car vs Cycle = There is only ever going to be one winner and you might not get lucky next time if you come face to face with a distracted driver.

Image 11

I know its one way… I’m only going one way!

Image 12

Rider on left of image rode the wrong way up a one way street. Drivers being held up by slow moving cyclists riding side by side.

The next four images show cyclist that are clearly not in full control of their bikes.

IMG_0015

As a youngster we would get told off by the police for doing things.

IMG_1924

This man would appear to be a competent rider but the reality is he is not in full control of his bike.

IMG_1951

If that lorry at the left edge of the image stopped suddenly what do you think might happen to that man who clearly has X-ray vision and full control of his bicycle. How about the chap with the headphones that couldn’t hear me ask for the time while he was sat at traffic lights, how aware is he of things around him?

IMG_0171

I seem to have picked an almost traffic free day to capture my images but regardless of that, this person is not in control of the bike, nor is he aware of his surroundings. Personally I would add three points onto his provisional or full driving licence. If he does not have one then the points are held for when he does apply for one.

Here we have a cyclist jumping a red light. The rider should be fined, points on his license and the bike should be confiscated and crushed. Just like what would happen to drivers.One law of us and another law for them!

IMG_0148

Red Light…. I ain’t stopping for no one.

My final image shows the reality of cycling in London. The roads are poorly maintained, road drainage covers are in our paths, busses and heavy goods vehicles are bearing down on us as we have to use the same lanes as other traffic.

IMG_0174

One cycling death is too many and many many more cyclist are injured on our roads.

As cyclists we can all improve our chances of arriving home to our loved ones in one piece.

Appropriate clothing, hi-vis and a helmet. Make clear your intentions and try to be predictable. Maintain your bike. Consider attending a road cycle safety class. Do not go up the inside of large vehicles, especially the ones indicating to turn left. Follow the rules of the road. Slow down occasionally…. let the situation in front unfold so you can take in the information and take appropriate action.

The best tip I ever had when I was learning to ride a motorbike applies to cycling, treat the road like no one has seen you, if you can not see in a drivers mirror, they can not see you.

Stay safe.

Jim Jimmy James.

2 comments

  1. You hit on one of my pet hates here Jimmy. I once picked up a 60 year old lady who had been hit by a cyclist (courier) riding on the pavement at speed. What appeared at first to be a painful collision turned out to be a ruptured spleen. She had to have emergency surgery, and was very ill. The cyclist? Buggered off of course, after shouting at her (according to witnesses) to ‘watch where you’re going, you stupid old cow’.
    They should all have to have insurance, and the Boris Bikes should include this in the hire charge. They should have to have compulsory training too, and any serious infringement, like riding the wrong way down a one-way street, or cycling on the pavement, running red lights, etc, should result in the cycle being confiscated. Permanently.
    As for pedestrian crossings, the clue is in the name. They are for people walking, and cyclists should be required to dismount to use them, not just ride across them without thinking. Same with headphones, and mobile phone usage. Seize the bike. Simple.
    I picked up countless injured cyclists, and attended a few dead ones too. They are not always to blame, just most of the time.
    There you go Jimmy, rant over!
    Using the images to prove your point was spot on, by the way.
    Cheers, Pete.

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