Recyclists, cycling and organ banks

11 Sep

I know what you’re thinking. This I going to be a post about recycling. Probably not a very positive one at that. Well, you’re close but no cigar. I’ve seen what happens with the recycling we all do and the time we spend on it, but that’s not what I mean when I say Recyclists.

Last week I was making my way back and forth from Edinburgh Airport over a couple of days. My chosen route takes me through the Cowgate and the Grassmarket before heading long the Western Approach Road to the A8. A lot of people cycle along that route and since a lot of the route is narrow with a mixture of cobbles and poor road surfaces, things can get interesting, especially if it’s wet.

The junction at the bottom of the Pleasance is also interesting. The East side has three lanes when there is really only enough room for two. It means the oncoming traffic in the turning right lane have to sit in the middle of the junction whilst traffic going straight on weaves around it from behind and traffic going East has to weave around whilst also trying not to hit the high kerb or collect a side mirror or three. What fun.

Now mix in cyclists. The chosen route for cyclists is cycle west on the kerb side, that’s sensible, then take a sharp right in the keep clear bit, in front of the car waiting to go straight on and then cycle up the middle of the road and stop in front of the first car in the queue at the lights. Not too bad apart from there not being enough room for cycling in the middle if the road.

When the lights change the cyclist shoots off closely followed by a car, which squeezes alongside the cyclist, the high kerb the cars in the middle of the road and the oncoming traffic. Not too bad. Then the cyclist catches up and passes the same cars, then gets overtaken by the same cars and on and on until everyone reaches their destination, hopefully.

I was waiting at the junction at the end of the Abbeyhill shortcut going towards Meadowbank. I’d managed to avoid the pillar in the middle of the road, I’d managed to get over the 17″ tall sleeping policeman speed bump, okay I exaggerated it’s really only 16.5″ tall. I’d also played chicken with the taxis , vans and lorries coming towards me as I was going up the wee hill with the parking on both sides making the road far too narrow.

I had made it to the traffic lights beside the ugly green building and was first in the queue and turning right. The lights were at red and suddenly a lady cyclist came up my left hand side. Not just a lady cyclist, a daredevil lady cyclist, about to perform a stunt involving going through the lights when they were at red whilst also pulling a small child’s buggy thing attached to the back of the bike. The lady cyclist then went straight out into the junction just as the lights changed to green and she headed over and turned right.

Now risking ones own neck is silly but perhaps necessary at times but risking ones small child to save a few moments at the traffic lights is a definite no-no. Cyclists turn up at hospital A&E in ever growing numbers and some of them end up being recycled. Some doctors call cyclists organ banks and unfortunately for some of them they are. Some accidents are caused by lorries not seeing cyclists, cars not leaving enough room and cyclists just not cycling in a safe enough manner.

Cyclists seem to think it is the responsibility of other road traffic to watch out for them whilst some cyclists don’t stop at red lights or pedestrian crossings and also cycle on the pavement etc.

I’ve cycled a fair bit, although not recently, but I take my responsibilities seriously when I do. I want to know who is behind me, I want to be in a place where a lorry driver can see me and I judge that by looking in his mirrors and if I can’t see him I drop back until I can, especially at corners, and I’m going to stick to the rules of the road, exaggeratedly signalling as required and looking behind before changing direction.

Cyclists need some protection and the Greenie councils have failed to help. It costs money they say. Of course it does. They rip off the car drivers for ridiculous amounts money to park and a good proportion of that should be diverted into funds to build proper cycle lanes etc. Lanes with kerbs not green tarmac with white lines.

It shouldn’t be too hard to provide some pavements space for cycling lanes too although some sort of reasonable responsibility by both pedestrians and cyclist would have to be clarified. It can be done I’ve seen it work elsewhere. Cyclists need to stick to the rules of the road. If they don’t, no amount of good environmental intentions and moral high ground hogging are going to soften the blow of being knocked of their bikes. It will hurt. Their granny grasping a bottle of Witchhazel won’t be enough to put them right.

I only wish there were no recyclists, but the more people cycle the more recyclist recycling will happen.

You know what the man said “Be careful out there”.

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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Edinburgh, Health, Politics


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