An old video but this behavior is still endemic
This afternoon I finished my shift and set off home. It was a warm day, it had rained earlier but the sun re-emerged like a phoenix just before I put my feet over the saddle and mounted up.
One of the biggest complaints from non-cyclists here is how "cyclists never use the cycle paths, they should be fined!" I disagree with both sentiments - for one thing I and many others do attempt to use the off-road facilities but obstacles are routinely put in our way.
Today was a strong example of this. I accessed the cycle path via the road HERE, I would have joined it at the lights HERE but a) there is no drop-kerb access on this side and b) the crossings were full of pedestrians.
Further down the "segregated" path I had to slow due to two lads walking HERE in the cycle path bit (despite the empty pavement section). No problem, I tend to just ring the bell and say "excuse me, bike behind" and then give them the side I am on "On your right!" ...unfortunately I haven't a bell at the moment on this bike because some kind soul appears to have damaged mine recently.
Now this poses a quandary: cyclists can face a £30 fine for riding on the pavements, or the pedestrian side of facilities like this. However in these circumstances you have no option when you've been polite enough to slow down and ask to get past a couple of times.
Between the path outside Halfords and the toucan crossing HERE I was faced with approximately 15 people walking in the segregated cycle section. Many of them were walking towards me. Isn't there a reasonable expectation to find cyclists here? Then things got odd...
I approached the toucan and a man who had been walking in the pavement section suddenly crossed to his left at speed and nearly into myself who had just drawn parallel. A little swerve left from myself avoided this. I crossed on green and managed to squeeze through the barriers. Ahead were two women and a small toddler - walking in the segregated cycle path.
"Excuse me! Bike behind you!"
"Excuse me! Bike behind you! Can I pass?" There is a kerb here so I cannot ride around. They appeared to be ignoring me. I knew they could hear as they were talking to the toddler, who it appeared had more sense as she kept looking around at me. Whilst the pavement to our right wasn't empty, there was space and time for them to move over.
I said "excuse me" one last time, realised there was a small gap on the right and said "passing on your right!" before gently overtaking.
I rode towards the underpass and saw a man on his mobile in the entrance to the next segregated cycle path. I was about to ride around to his right when I suddenly saw a small dog over by the grass some 15 feet from him. In between the two was an almost invisible trip-wire of a dog lead.
Again with the "excuse me!" Nothing. "Come on mate, can I just get past!?" Nothing. No attempt to reel in his dog either, and now he was completely blocking the entrance to the cycle path. His phone call obviously so much more important than being aware of his surroundings. I had completely stopped at this point. By this point I was completely frustrated, this is a cultural problem - people seem to seek out these facilities and even obstruct them.
"Mate, WHY are you deliberately blocking the cycle path?!" He still ignored me deciding to ramble on his phone, after 5 seconds of his nonsensical bullshit into the microphone of his contraption it was almost as if he'd decided "..now you may pass.." and he wandered over to his right, still dragging the dog some considerable distance behind him. For all he knew his dog could have been replaced by a brick.
I rode off up the ramp towards the street. Shaking my head.
In the main I agree with people when they complain about pavement riders, but when there are now significant numbers of people acting like this on foot what is the solution. Do we fine them? Do we launch some kind of campaign? Do we just resort to the road? The latter seems to piss off some sections of the motoring lobby no end.
People chose to bike because its faster than foot (and in many cases faster, cheaper and easier than driving). Situations like this seem to be increasing, why cycle if you constantly have to stop or swerve. That is the question many cyclists end up asking themselves. Even when using the "perfectly safe cycle path".