Danger Danger

When I moved to London I began to ride my bicycle around the city the day after I arrived. I didn’t immediately read the rules of the road, but I should have. Roundabouts are confusing but there is a method to them. I also assumed that it was OK to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk (or pavements as they say here), but that you should yield to pedestrians. That’s true in the state of Washington, and in Seattle, but not in London. I’ve been yelled at a few times by pedestrians to “get off the pavements!” It turns out is not legal to ride on the sidewalk.

So Ok, I was wrong to not understand the rules of the road. And I understand why people walking on the sidewalk are so protective of their rights: it is dangerous to mix people walking and people cycling. I once collided with a man who stepped out of a doorway onto a cycle path in Seattle and he went flying when I hit him. We both fell, I “taco’d” my front wheel in the wreck, but neither of us were hurt. But the speed differential is dangerous. I get it.

But statistically, the danger from automobiles is so much greater to pedestrians than from cyclists. When I hit the guy on my bike, we were both stunned but not hurt and could both get up and continue. But if I had the same accident when I was driving, the guy would have been hurt badly. Why aren’t we all more outraged about this? The danger from cars is real, and omnipresent on our streets. It affects all of us regardless of our station in life.

I thought about this yesterday when the road on my way to work was closed because a van had hit a person in a busy crosswalk and fled the scene. This is the kind of thing I would expect people to be up in arms about but it doesn’t seem to engender the same amount of anger and animosity as people have towards cyclists.

Road closed due to hit and run between car and pedestrian

Road closed due to hit and run between car and pedestrian

This I just don’t get.