Commonly Believed Myths

Guys,
Here is a letter which I submitted to the Hamilton Advertiser this evening. Time will tell if it is published in the next week or two.

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I would be very grateful if you would help dispel a few commonly believed myths which I believe create unnecessary friction between motorists and cyclists.

When out cycling with my mate we regularly have angry motorists shout and gesticulate at us when cycling 2 abreast, i.e. side by side. I think this is because the motorists don’t know that this is allowed and mistakenly believe that cyclists should always ride in single file. The Highway Code states that cyclists are permitted to ride 2 abreast. If we are riding 2 abreast and realise that a car is stuck behind us we revert to single file to try to help them pass.

The other issue also wrongly quoted is that we, as cyclists, “Don’t pay Road Tax”. There is no such thing as Road Tax now as it was abolished in 1937. The roads are funded through taxation and council tax with motorists paying Vehicle Excise Duty based on the emissions of their vehicles. As bicycles do not create emissions they are exempt from the duty, as are classic cars, vehicles which produce less than 100g of CO2/km , disabled vehicles, police cars and ambulances. According to the National Travel Survey, conducted in 2012, 83 % of cyclists actually also own cars and and will therefore already be paying VED, unless of course they own one of the aforementioned vehicles.

We also find that motorists are regularly guilty of trying to pass us too quickly, often leaving little passing room and overtaking us when they can’t possibly have a clear view of what may be coming in the opposite direction, i.e. when approaching bends in the road or blind summits.

As a cyclist with two close friends who are now living with the consequences of having suffered brain injuries, from being knocked off their bikes by motorists who just “didn’t see them”, I personally think that everyone should have more respect for their fellow road users and try to be a little bit more tolerant, patient and considerate as I’m not sure that motorists realise quite how vulnerable cyclists are on our roads.

I have cycled abroad and the attitude from continental drivers towards cyclists is much more relaxed. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from our European neighbours.

Gilly

One thought on “Commonly Believed Myths

  1. Stu says:

    Well put bro! The difference in attitude I witnessed while in Germany was the complete opposite to the UK. Car drives have respect for cyclists.

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