Written by Cycling

Chilled Cyclists

Today was apparently the hottest day since 2006 or something in London.

I can certainly attest that it was warm. Nobody wants to be on the tube in this heat, so there were even more cyclists that usual on my ride in this morning.

But I do have a little complaint. Undoubtedly there were lots of very infrequent cyclists on the roads this morning. I’m not having a go at them. I hope they carry on riding for the rest of the summer.

None of this excuses some of the behaviour I saw entering Tavistock Square this morning. Tavistock Place is part of a major East-West cycle route across London, and it’s always popular. It has a 2-way separated cycle lane down the northern side of the road. It meets some traffic lights at the junction with Woburn Place on the corner of Tavistock Square. There is always a decent line of cyclists in single file at these traffic lights.

This morning the lights changed as I reached the junction, so I stopped. I could have run them, but it was going from amber to red, and aside from the danger, a long stream of cyclists was almost certainly being held up ahead. It’s actually easier to a wait a minute or so for the sequence to complete and get a nice quiet ride.

But regular cyclists know that the actual next phase of these lights is for pedestrians both east-west and north-south. In other words, if you run the lights you don’t actually take the risk of being mown down by traffic. So one or two cyclist behind me decided to overtake. Then a few more. However there were pedestrians trying to cross on the green man – a chap with his dog. But cyclists were pushing through. I said something like, “Are we not bothering with red lights?” or similar. And one chap did actually stop.

I hate the fact that so many people have been killed in London this year – mostly women, and mostly by tipper trucks.

I love the fact that we’re getting so much more cycling infrastructure in London. Indeed this very route is due to change substantially next month when a year long trial allows more cyclists access at the expense of motor vehicles.

But it does nobody any favours when people run red lights and stop pedestrians crossing.

And in any case, it’s hot today. Is there any benefit in getting to work 60 seconds earlier, but hotter and sweatier than necessary?

On the way home, one cyclist ran a zebra crossing narrowly missing a pedestrian who was on it. But just to be completely “fair,” an Addison Lee driver nearly took me out when he turned into the cycle lane without looking to see if anyone was on it. And I also experienced several pedestrians walking straight out into the cycle lane without looking to see if bikes are coming. A bell is essential in London mostly for this reason alone.

So let’s all chill out a little tomorrow if we can…