City cycling clinic

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  • When to ride on the pavement

    City police have recently started targeting cyclists who jump lights or cycle on pavements. Their enthusiastic clampdown follows BBC1’s ‘Road Rage’ programme about reckless cyclists. For the most part, I try not to cycle on pavements, not least because it’s illegal. I also get annoyed when I see idiot pedallers scattering pedestrians like skittles with a two-wheeled swagger. However, there is an exception: right at the end of Theobalds Road. In rush hour, I’m faced with Hobson’s choice: either join a busy and treacherous one-way system down to Holborn or take a hop, skip and a jump across the pavement in front of Central St Martins, over the lights and down Bloomsbury Way and rejoin the road at New Oxford Street. It’s generally quiet: if it were heavily peopled I’d walk my bike. Most pertinently, if there were adequate cycle lanes – proper sectioned-off areas that cars can’t drift into – in the busiest, most dangerous areas of town, I wouldn’t contemplate it. In the meantime, I go slowly and don’t overtake pedestrians unless I can do so without them having to move to one side. By and large, this arrangement works well. I respect pedestrians’ superior claim to the pavement and they, barring the pinstriped cross-patch and his steel-tipped briefcase I once met, respect the fact I’m being considerate.The stock response from cycle organisations to sticky legal issues like these is to blame the law breakers (ie people like me) for giving others a bad name. But why adhere to a law that endangers you? Fifty-three per cent of cycle collisions happened during rush hour last year according to Met figures. Until London recognises that, despite ads encouraging us to saddle up, facilities for cyclists are still substandard, those who bend the rules will remain a fact of life.

    Route rating

    Miles 1 (Theobalds Rd-New Oxford St).Calories burned 36, but it all counts.Pedestrians mown down 0.Bendy buses avoided 4.

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