The pedestrian’s guide to cyclists

Three cyclists stopped at a red light

The Lesser Spotted Cyclist-stopped-at-a-red-light?

I had a close encounter of the pedestrian kind the other day. A guy had started to cross the road and then stopped suddenly, before proceeding to walk backwards the way he’d just come – right into my path. Having managed to avoid hitting him, I politely suggested he might want to look where he’s going in the future.

He responded by swearing at me.

It’s not the first time this has happened – nor is it likely to be the last – and frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of being sworn at by pedestrians when they were the ones at fault, not me. And so I’ve decided it’s time I got my own back, and I’m going to do that in the best way I know how – by writing about it in this blog.

And so, without further ado (and with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek), ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…the pedestrian’s guide to cyclists.

Rule no 1: If you can’t hear anything coming, that means there is nothing coming.

You know all that Green Cross Code stuff you learnt as a kid? Forget about it. Who needs to Stop and Look when you can just Listen?

Actually, you don’t even need to do that. You can just step out into the road and we’ll get out of your way – because all cyclists have a sixth sense that means we know what you’re going to do even before you do. Plus it gives us a chance to show off how well our brakes work.

Rule no 2: If a cyclist is doing something the rest of the traffic isn’t, that means they must be doing something wrong

There are times when we cyclists might think we’re allowed to do something a little bit different from other road users. Things like use a bus lane to bypass a set of traffic lights….or even just use a bus lane at all. Or use a marked cycle path to travel the opposite way along a one-way street, or to connect two otherwise disconnected streets (see below). Things like that.

Cycle path

We might think we’re allowed to do these things, but we’d be wrong. A cyclist couldn’t possibly be allowed to do anything the rest of the traffic isn’t doing. As a result we must therefore be breaking the law, which gives you the absolute right to step in front of us, swear at us or do anything you feel like to us.

Rule no 3: The golden rule – the cyclist is always wrong

We’re a menace. We run red lights. We ride on pavements, and the wrong way down one-way streets. We ride at night without lights or any reflective clothing.

Even if – at the precise moment you encounter us – we’ve done nothing wrong, we must have done in the past and undoubtedly will do in the future. Some kind of wrongdoing at some point has inevitably led us to be there, in your way, at that moment. So even if you’re the one who’s just stepped out in front of us without looking, it must be our fault so please swear at us. We are scum and must be reminded of this at every available opportunity, lest we get ideas above our station – like thinking we deserve our own separate path to cycle in.

Furthermore, cyclists are not individuals but are instead part of a collective pedalling brother- and sisterhood, all interconnected. We are all responsible for the actions of each other. So what if the cyclist you’ve just encountered was responsible and law-abiding? We must be punished for the sins our brethren have committed.

So go on. Shout at us. Swear at us. Threaten to hit us if you like. We are masochists and we like to be abused…I mean, why else would we cycle?

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10 thoughts on “The pedestrian’s guide to cyclists

  1. Nice rant. I can feel your ire in every word.

    I am a cyclist but I am also a pedestrian and can see both sides. The odd naughty cyclist does run a red light and have near misses with people outside of my office. Rotten apples and barrels etc.

    Happy pedaling.

    • Thanks for commenting! Likewise, I’m a pedestrian and a cyclist and I get annoyed by cyclists who run red lights and generally show a lack of respect for other people around them. But I also get annoyed by people who use the behaviour of other cyclists as a reason to have a go at me when I’ve done nothing wrong. Grr!

  2. ugh what a jerk!! it is really unfair an unhelpful how quick people are to blame us or assume we’re doing something wrong.

    i had an accident with a pedestrian once who did what that guy did. except, he stepped out in front of me as I was slowly going by him, no time to even brake. i, of course, was verbally assaulted and threatened with having a police report filed on me. cuz i assaulted him, apparently.

    • Idiot! I think most cyclists have similar stories to tell. At least here no-one would threaten to go to the police (or at least I don’t think they would)…they know the police wouldn’t be interested in something so minor.

  3. Oh this has happened to me too and it never ceases to leave me speechless by the unfairness of it all. You can try to tell them about the highway code and how it’s usually advisable to look before crossing the road and yet they still believe they most definitely are in the right. It’s infuriating! What are we to do with these silly people?!

    • Send them out on a bike and let them find out what it feels like…I reckon that’d do it. I’d also advocate the same approach to cyclists who barge through red lights without a care for who might be in their way – I’d put them in the way of another cyclist and see if they like it.

  4. Oh I’m hearing you. You also forgot the one about shared paths – you know, the ones marked with people walking AND bike pictures – but don’t be alarmed peds, you can have the whole path to yourself and feel free to abuse any cyclist who tries to ring their bell to warn you they want to also use the path… don’t let them!! 😀

    Now when do we remind the motorists that cyclists are a danger to them? Lol.

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