My friend Fiona commented about yesterday’s post* “There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?”, and yes, there is, although it’s hopefully more of a “Yes but” than a “No but”. So, everything I wrote yesterday about cyclists I firmly believe. But……
On Monday night I was heading home from the office. I was a bit later than my usual time because I’d been trying to sort out some figures for my tax return (what a lovely way to pass an evening!) and so there were fewer people around than normal. I get a train to Earlsfield and then a bus, and hop off at a stop opposite my road. About twenty yards down from the bus stop there’s a zebra crossing and I cross there and walk the couple of minutes home.
On Monday night I was the only person to get off the bus at my stop. The bus passed me as I headed to the crossing and stopped on the kerb to see if it was safe to cross. Coming towards me were a silver Mercedes and a woman on a bike. Now, when looking to see if it’s safe to cross at one of these crossings, I usually try to meet the eye of whoever is in charge of any vehicle coming towards me, so I can be sure they’ve seen me and are going to stop before I step out.
My experience of this particular pedestrian crossing is that the majority of cars stop, but only a minority of bikes; I haven’t counted, but probably one in three cyclists stop. So I focussed on the cyclist, not the car, locking eyes with the woman riding it.
She met my gaze, then looked away and continued going, riding across in front of me as I stood at the kerb waiting to cross**. (The non-jerk in the Merc, by contrast, did stop, and once the bike had gone through I walked across in front of him, making sure to give him a friendly wave and a smile of thanks as I did so and getting a smile in return.)
*If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do so before accusing me of hating cyclists. I really don’t.
** Anyone who at this point is thinking “Well, why shouldn’t she go through?”, it’s an interesting point. Pedestrians have right of way at Zebra crossings, but only once they’ve actually stepped onto the crossing. In this case, I didn’t step out, but waited for the traffic to stop (not least because I felt it would be dangerous to step in front of a cyclist before I was sure she was going to stop). So technically speaking she was within her rights to carry on. But (;)) on the web I did find this Sustrans report which indicates at the top of page 3 (Legalities) that she should have stopped. So I guess the point is kind of moot.