11 November 2003
If there's one thing I hate - well, all right, any time anyone starts a sentence that way you just know that in fact there are dozens and dozens of things that they hate, and of course that's true of me too, I've always believed it's true of everyone. But one among the many things I hate is cyclists on the pavement. They tell me that it's safer for them than the road, and I'm sure that's true. No doubt it would be safer for motorcyclists also to use the pavement; it just wouldn't be safer for us pedestrians. Actually, I could take you to places here in Newcastle where motorcyclists do use the pavement, and I'm right, it's not at all safe for us pedestrians. Nor is any pavement, where the pushbikes think they have a right to run. I was walking home from the supermarket yesterday, came to a corner and headed to the kerb, looking for the traffic - and suddenly I was slammed into from the side, I was falling into the road in a tangle of metal and legs and yup, here came the traffic, just a foot or two from my head. I'm not clear if it had time to swerve or if I was just lucky not to have fallen further, but happily it did miss me. And my glasses. So I recovered those, which was about the moving I could manage immediately, and found I'd been knocked over in the most literal of senses by a boy on a mountain bike. And okay, he was a child - but twelve years old or thereabouts, very much of that age where he ought to be playing with the traffic or staying at home. And his parents were right behind him, and they picked him up and fussed over him and over his bike and gave me no more than the most perfunctory 'Are you okay?' - to which I confess my answer was even more terse. Because no, I was not okay. I'd skinned my knees like a little kid, ruined a good pair of jeans, wrenched my bad shoulder and very thoroughly twanged my slipped disc; and actually they were lucky that I was so shaken up and in so much pain, because I was also very, very angry and their precious boy would have learned some interesting new words if I'd actually been competent to speak. If I'd been a little quicker to get up, his bike might have gone to play in the traffic with or without him astride it. But I wasn't, I was slow; indeed they were gone before I was on my feet. Which is the other reason I wouldn't allow cyclists on the pavement, because they're so bloody rude as well as dangerous. As it happens, of course, they're not allowed on the pavement, it's against the law. But then so's parking on the pavement, and everyone does that too. I'm just going to have to start a campaign, form a single-issue political party, make a bore and a nuisance of myself. Or go for direct action, chain myself to the bumper of the next car that parks outside my gate, or hurl myself under the wheels of the next bike that comes along. Except that I've done that, of course, and it's no fun at all. Sigh...
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.