Matt's Crow Country: Cyclists need to pedal safe

PUBLISHED: 09:07 01 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:12 11 May 2010

WITHOUT wishing to get all Richard Littlejohn on you, everybody seems to think they re discriminated against these days. The latest group of whingers are the region s cyclists, many of whom I heard on the radio on Monday morning having a rant about how th

WITHOUT wishing to get all Richard Littlejohn on you, everybody seems to think they're discriminated against these days.

The latest group of whingers are the region's cyclists, many of whom I heard on the radio on Monday morning having a rant about how they suffer "cyclism", where car drivers deliberately go out of their way to make things difficult for people on bikes.

The debate was triggered by the AA calling for a government campaign to stop cyclists riding around with headphones on, because listening to music often distracts them from what's happening on the road.

Now as someone who was brought up in Cambridge, I have ridden a bike all my life, but on this occasion I am completely on the side of the motorists.

If there is a problem with "cyclism", I doubt it is caused by any drivers deliberately targeting poor little bikes. More likely, it occurs because the majority of cyclists are terrible road users. They pay little regard to the Highway Code, or to road markings and traffic signals. How often have you seen a cyclist speed straight past a red light as if it doesn't apply to them? Or swing out into the middle of the road paying little regard for any vehicle which may be travelling behind them.

And of course, if an accident occurs then it is the cyclist who is likely to come off worse, meaning motorists get the blame.

I'm not saying that car drivers are angels or anything, but to get behind the wheel you need to pass a test and have some form of insurance.

And while I wouldn't necessarily advocate a ban on wearing headphones, but perhaps it should be mandatory for anyone riding a bike to have third party insurance cover in case they cause an accident.

Either way something needs to be done, because at the moment a lot of cyclists are a menace for motorists and pedestrians alike.

I know it's impossible to get around the fact that the build up to Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year, but the situation is getting dangerously out of control.

As I write this it's not even December, yet anyone who listens to the radio has already been subjected to weeks of The Pogues, Slade, Wizzard et al. I used to really like Fairytale of New York, but I think if I hear it many more times before December 25 I will start to feel like seeking out Shane MacGowan and forcibly removing a few of his remaining teeth.

Meanwhile, our television screens are filled with no-mark celebrities smiling inanely as they flog frozen meat products on behalf of various budget supermarkets. And there's still four weeks to go before Christmas itself. Someone please make it stop.

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