Editor's comment: January 2018
PUBLISHED: 11:35 22 December 2017
"I know I'm on dangerous ground here, but we have to talk about cyclists."
I have the great fortune to live in a village at the centre of a network of single-track lanes. One of the benefits of this is that there is little through traffic apart from the occasional weekend when van-loads of motocross riders from Swindon and Bristol shatter the tranquillity of a nearby field.
The downsides are twofold. Firstly, we have an excellent primary school in the village which attracts pupils from far and wide. This means that school run time is fraught with danger as little Sebastian and Charlotte are ferried around in four-wheel drives by harassed mothers who don’t know how to reverse their monster trucks or successfully identify a passing place. Secondly, our idyllic location means that we live on a very popular cycle route, which means that you almost always come across one variety or another of the bike-bound breed every time you go out, from recreational couples to packs of pink-shirted club members.
Most of them are thoroughly decent folk, appreciating that you’ve been trundling behind them for some time and so looking for a place you can safely pass. However, however... every now and then a two-wheeled terrorist turns up and tempers soon fray. You know the sort – a militant eco-warrior who is perpetually angry at the world and resents motorists even though we pay for the tarmac he’s riding along. (Mind you, I’d be angry if I only ever ate kale and turnips.) This chap – always a chap – will ride along in the middle of the road positively daring you to come within 10 yards of his rear mudguard. Enter his self-declared personal space and you’ll be roundly abused. I must admit that the temptation to nudge him along a little is never far away.
I got onto this subject because a survey – yes, another one – has declared that cyclists riding side by side on rural roads are the biggest bugbear of drivers, with 54% registering them as the hazard which causes most anger. Almost one in four (23%) react to this annoyance by shouting, beeping their horn (34%) or making inappropriate hand gestures (14%).
Other irritants include fly-tipping (37%), potholes (35%) and not giving way on narrow roads (34%). Alarmingly, frustrated drivers have been taking it out on our livestock, with 17% admitting to shouting at a sheep, 10% at a cow and 14% at a bird.
I don’t know about you, but if you have to start shouting at a poor sheep, you’re probably not safe to be on the road in the first place. Go and take your place on an anger management course, alongside our militant cyclist friend.
Of course, it’s not just cyclists that hinder your progress on narrow lanes. It’s also walkers, especially those wielding those ski pole things on the flat. Why, when you approach them, do they invariably split apart with each going to a different side of the road? Doesn’t it make sense for them both to stay on one side, making it easier for me to get past?
Look mate, I’m trying very hard not to splash you, but you’re not exactly helping.
Stroud MP David Drew is calling for the Cotswolds to be given National Park status as a means of boosting the local economy. Such a move would bring some certainty to planning issues and make additional funding available to businesses, including tourism.
With six local authorities across several counties, we do suffer from a lack of co-ordination. A Cotswolds National Park would give our region a united front in Westminster and beyond.
It’s a no-brainer. Get it done.
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