As a cyclist it’s great to see people enjoying our beautiful countryside on two wheels. Weekends around Effingham, other Surrey villages and lanes positively buzz with the weird tasteless high visibility lycra outfits that the same people would not be seen dead in anywhere else – apart from Gotham and Metropolis. Anyway why not – it is fun, relaxing and good for you. Just do not ask me to wear that gaudy stuff!
This Easter weekend has been no different. We have been out and about visiting family by car and walking dogs around Abinger Roughs. We have met some of the most considerate and polite off-road cyclists ever.
Ok enough – what is it with a minority of cyclists on our narrow lanes that insist on riding two abreast. Cyclists are entitled to have their wobble, so we need to pass wide. However every lane now seems to have potholes and deep side channels where the earth has been washed away.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday and I had overtaken a reasonable number of individual cyclists heading up over the Downs towards Shere. Then there was a group of four cyclists in two pairs. The first two moved to single file and we passed – the second pair were abreast and looked likely to not have heard us. Using the routine French driving approach to cyclists I sounded the shortest hoot possible. It made absolutely no difference. The woman on the outside in her white windcheater carried on beside her partner. Well, there was enough road width to pass so I did.
But all the safety margins came under question:
If every biker is given a couple of feet to avoid the poor edges of the lane;
Then the driver provides a five/six foot of wobble space;
A companion alongside also needs another five/six foot wobble;
The passing car needs to avoid the broken up edges and potholes.
There is nothing wrong this example of a good day out
The law refers to “willful obstruction of the Highway” and actually provides the Police with a power of arrest. Highway means hedgerow to hedgerow and includes pavements. Willful here means where someone has been asked to move an obstruction and refuses. We are all obstructing the highway to a greater or lesser extent simply by occupying space on the road. Even parking a car on the road is an obstruction – but it only becomes willful when you are asked to move it and there is a reason for asking. For example when you are blocked in trying to get out of a driveway. But this equally applies to cyclists. They obstruct the road like the rest of us but by deliberately blocking the free passage to other road users this takes us into a different realm. I am referring to two cyclists abreast on a narrow lane. This is willful obstruction of the highway. It is also poor road sense and actually unfairly gives all road cyclists a bad image. So I suggest we encourage cyclists to be considerate and share the highways respecting other users.
The vast majority of horse riders acknowledge considerate drivers with a nod or raised hand. Let’s see cyclists do the same with a nod of the head. And motorists can acknowledge with a raised hand when cyclists move to accommodate them. So, please try not to cycle in groups of two or more abreast on narrow lanes if there is traffic coming up from behind.
The Highway Code
never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding round bends