I am very lucky in that near where I live there is a lovely path affectionately known as “The Cycle Path”. It’s a great resource – with wild flowers in the spring, colourful leaves in the autumn, birdsong all year round and lovely open views of the surrounding fields.
The Cycle Path is indeed part of the National Cycle Network, and is used by many cyclists, both for leisure and commuting.
But it isn’t just a cycle path – it is a shared resource. It is used by people walking their dogs, people with small children, disabled people in mobility scooters, joggers, etc., etc.
Indeed I regularly use the path as both a walker and as a cyclist.
Most people are very responsible, but I am always surprised that some cyclists seem to be either totally unaware of the people and animals around them, or are just plain aggressive.
Walking along the path I am often startled by a cyclist overtaking me at high speed just inches from my arm, when I had no idea they were approaching. Or they will ring their bell, or shout at me to ‘be careful’ when they are already almost on top of me. It’s dangerous – when something startles you and makes you jump you can easily step the wrong way or stumble.
As a cyclist myself, I do know that it is frustrating when pedestrians are blocking the path. Or letting their dogs run around. Or don’t respond to the sound of your bell.
But there is a very good chance that they are unaware of your approach. And as I mentioned, the path is there for everybody – not just for cyclists.
Let’s face it, children and dogs are always going to be unpredictable. Joggers are often using earphones. Elderly people are likely to have hearing difficulties. And people of all ages are likely to be engrossed in their thoughts or conversations, and not always aware of approaching bikes.
Surely it is just common sense to slow down when approaching people, and to make sure that they are aware of your approach. Ring your bell in good time, and if there is no response, ring it again and slow down more.
Remember that people chatting, people with dogs and kids, and people with mobility problems have just as much right to be there as you do. Not just on paths like this one, but anywhere where cyclists and pedestrians are in close proximity.
Just think – if there is an accident, does it really matter whose fault it is? People will get hurt – possibly seriously, and possibly you.