The local bicyclist association is at it again. They are promoting their sport and leisure activities as much as the safety of bicycle riders without looking at both sides of the coin. In recent weeks they have been promoting a questionnaire put out by the government about how friendly towns and cities are for people who ride bicycles. This comes after many complaints about how car drivers and pedestrians act toward cyclists, and a mass action to raise awareness of cyclists – by blocking off streets through a form of demonstration.
The thing is, we, as drivers and pedestrians, are more than aware of cyclists. They are constantly there, but not always where you would wish them to be, and certainly not always where they should be. We meet them on pavements, in the middle of the road, in pedestrians precincts, sometimes as they pass by, sometimes with more of a smack as two people – or a car and a cyclist – collide.
Photo Source: Henry Bloomfield – Creative Commons
I wish that the various German cycling associations, and the government, would start asking other people how they feel about bicycles and their riders. So far it has only been about how good the roadways and bicycle paths are and where cyclists can enjoy their sport or pastime. It is never about everyone else.
I would like to see a questionnaire for other people involved, and there are plenty of them: for drivers who have to contend with cyclists crossing their path without a look or a signal; for pedestrians who have to jump out-of-the-way when a cyclist uses the sidewalk instead of a bicycle lane; for drivers and pedestrians who have watched – or been forced to dive out-of-the-way of – cyclists who ignore traffic signals, cross roads on red; for those who have to suffer a sudden braking manoeuvre because of a badly or unlit bicycle suddenly appearing before them; for those who ponder the intelligence level of a cyclist with both hands in their pockets, or using a smart phone whilst on the move.
But the cyclist associations here are like a lobby: they only see their own side, their own advantage, and everyone else is at fault when something goes wrong. It is a wonderful idea to have cycle areas, to have cycle paths and people who avoid using the car all the time, but there is another side too, and this side needs to be addressed just as much, if not more, at the same time. I’m still an advocate for driving licenses for cyclists, at the very least covering the theory side of driving on the road, as well as safety and the law.
- Viktoria Michaelis.