Sunday, February 25, 2007

What A Plonker!

Standing at a crossroads (not metaphorically), I observed a highly populated cycling commuter route at 6pm on a Tuesday evening.

Firstly what struck me was the immense frequency of cyclists passing through this junction, and I was impressed by the scale of allegiance to pedal power. Good to see that us Brits have adopted a hardy weatherproof attitude, facing whatever the climate-changed winter can throw at us. (Mini Hurricane, anyone?)

On this occasion vehicles were well behaved, for example; stopping at traffic lights BEFORE the cyclist’s Advance Stop Line, (not IN the cycles green ASL box). Taxis were patiently queuing in traffic, leaving space for cyclists to pass. All was well, good karma prevailed.

Disappointingly it was the rare cyclist who stood out as the naive, disregarding chancer. Most other responsible riders shared the road and practiced the amnesia-friendly; green for go, red to stop format:

The chancer in question, was noticeable for a few reasons which set him apart from competent cyclists.

His riding style was akin to a dazed hippy drifting through a field of rainbow coloured flowers: No apparent assertiveness or decision making, just total reliance on undiluted hope.

Financially he seemed only prepared to invest as far as the bike starting point – lights & visible clothing not viewed as a necessity. (!)

Finally, he stood out for a pathetic attempt to disguise a red light jump (RLJ), by rolling “cunningly” passed all the civilised stationary traffic, then “sneakily” through the actively crossing pedestrians, in a feeble effort not to be noticed RLJ’ing.

Feeble, because people did notice. No horns blasted, no abuse shouted, but observant road-users unconsciously notch another mark in the “against” column. Perhaps to be totted up in the future? Perhaps very subtly influencing how the drivers view and interact with cyclists in future? Or perhaps to be criticised in a blog here or there...

What struck me as stupid was the fact this drifter ambled passed the ASL, continued passed the traffic light Stop line, and on to the middle of the cross roads – and had to stop there anyway! (To avoid being hit by legitimate cross traffic.) In this position the traffic lights are not visible, so he has no idea who has the green light and right of way. He looked lost, and could only guess at his next unimpressive move.

The mass of competent cyclists waiting with traffic at the red reminded me of the Critical Mass slogan: “we ARE traffic” (is it the case that cyclists demonstrating the behaviour of legitimate traffic, slowly gain respect to be treated as legitimate traffic?) These riders, me and other onlookers of the dazed hippy, collectively and silently remarked; “what a plonker!”

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