A car driver, and non-cyclist, was bending my ear about how the cyclists on the back lanes are not particularly friendly or polite. It is true that courtesy is required from both bikes and cars, which is mostly the case but not always. Allowing cars past is the key courtesy required from cyclistsd, slowing down or stopping when meeting cyclists and not hassling anyone when overtaking is the key courtesy required from cars. Both of these can be missing, though obviously cars have the added issue that they are considerably more dangerous than bikes and a lack of courtesy there is not merely irritating, it’s potentially lethal. A lot of small lanes have seen big traffic increases and I think that’s put a bit of stress on cyclists who think, I believe correctly, that cars should push off onto the nearby A roads unless they are willing to drive slowly, stop repeatedly, be in no great hurry at all. Basically lanes are now predominantly recreational facilities for bikes, walkers and horse riders and any use of them should bear that in mind. No problem about using them otherwise, but don’t expect to have the lane to yourself and it is likely to be a lot slower than using the nearest A or B road. The chief place where cyclists lack courtesy is when cycling on the pavement amongst pedestrians. It’s usually illegal but, as with so many traffic laws, there’s no enforcement.
Although the last post supposed that I might have done my last bike ride up the Dales back in October, in actual fact Burnsall was reached as recently as 4th December, with the ride stopping due to lack of light at Bingley (train home). The lane from Otley to Ilkley to Bolton Abbey, on the north side of the Wharfe and so avoiding the heavy traffic on the A road, is great for bikes and understandably very popular. Beyond Bolton Abbey the lane continues up Wharfedale to Burnsall and beyond. After the heavy traffic, and occasionally stupid drivers, of Bradford it’s a great thing to get into the pretty and quiet back lanes.
Having provided a car sharing scheme and built a basic, but mostly usable, bike superhighway to Leeds, Bradford Council thought that the endless build up of traffic on Bradford’s roads would calm down. Surprise, surprise, it hasn’t! Fancy that! Imagine a car driver opting not to share their car and not to start cycling in the depths of winter? Add to that the recent preference for diesels and you’ve got a serious particulate problem – hence the recent story in the local paper about the increasing number of breaches of mandatory air standards for air quality. The obvious answer is that proposed by Greenpeace and others – banning diesels from cities, and in particular from city centres. It’s all very well to drive your car but if it’s claiming the lives, through asthma attacks and chronic bronchial disease, of the people past whom you’re driving, then it’s time to stop.
The picture is perhaps familiar – from the track across Ilkley Moor in late November. I think that white stuff in the distance is snow…