This week’s column very nearly didn’t appear thanks to the efforts of one man and his bike.
At the end of last week, I had very nearly finished crossing London’s St Martin’s Lane one afternoon when I was suddenly hit on the ankle by a cyclist who appeared from nowhere going at very high speed.
For the avoidance of doubt, I was sober, aware and not listening to music or on a mobile phone.
The only injuries that I suffered were a cut and some bruising, while the offending cyclist managed to keep his balance and disappeared in the blink of a somewhat teary eye.
At first sight, this appears to be one of those misfortunes that we British typically laugh off keeping our upper lips stiff.
However, having heard the tragic story of the mother of two killed by a cyclist who apparently had a bike with no brakes, it becomes far more chilling.
Had I been one second earlier or later, rather than a sore ankle I could now be in hospital or possibly even a mortuary. If this sounds alarmist, that is the intention.
It is very hard to believe that in this day and age a car driver would take a significant chance of hitting a pedestrian. While my charitable side would like to believe that their main motivation is love of one’s fellow man, in many cases protection of their driving licence would be a more decisive factor.
If my observations are anything to go by, a significant proportion of cyclists consider themselves to be above the law. In particular, those working as couriers operate using principles that are mad, bad and therefore make them dangerous to know.
While cars regard red lights as a reason to stop, cyclists seem to think that these are an impulsion to accelerate, regardless of the risks to their own and others’ lives and limbs.
I had a lucky escape this week. The road where I got hit is on the edge of Covent Garden, which is a renowned tourist area. Had I been a visitor from overseas marshalling an excited family enjoying the sights of London, the very same cyclist would have wiped out one or two people and still probably not cared less, as long as he remained upright and avoided arrest.
Perhaps it is time for the government and/or police to begin taking action. Perhaps some road cameras need to be set up with a specific intention of making pedestrian life safer? Alternatively, is it time for cycles to get number plates?
From my own experience, all that I know is that unless something happens, there will be more fatalities.