24 May 2010

Right of way.... and bad manners

We decided to take the mother in law with us to the beach as the sun is out finally. We loaded up the inflatable sharks, beach tent, giant styrofoam tube clubs for play fights in the sea (bought in a flea market second hand), buckets, spades etc etc. Number 1 child was in a sulk and wanted to play on her DS at home and refused to cycle, so she joined Number 3 child on the back of the Yuba Mundo. Quite the load.

We were soon on the cyclepath and after a couple of km we ran into a fleamarket that had run over and where everyone had used the cyclepath as a parking space. Obviously because it was a waste of space... We had to ride around this mess through endless cars attempting to find parking space and found our way on the other side. Then after 500 metres, on a corner, a man jumped out infront of us and shouted "Stop ! Its the marathon you can't ride here." Number 2 child ran into the back of the Yuba Mundo with a crash of handlebars and I looked down the cycle path to see 2 or 3 runners and a couple of huge motorbikes escorting them on the cyclepath. I asked him what I was supposed to do and he told me to watch or go home. The path runs through fields and there are no other road options. I looked around, there were no posters warning of the event, no barriers, and very few runners. I told him to "have a nice day" and carried on down the cyclepath as usual. We came across several other cyclists coming the other way looking very unhappy, one of them wishing us "good luck", and every now and then a sole runner. One or two of the runners insulted us and even changed sides of the cyclepath at the last moment to stop us head on to show that we had no right to be there ( A great way to make a child fall off a bike). After a couple of km I came across a couple of cops who were regulating cars where the cyclepath crossed a road and I asked them why the marathon was not being run on the road, like most marathons. It was a registered marathon route I was told. So I replied that I could see where the priorities lay with townhall. The cop didn't like that, and replied that pedestrians do indeed have priority over cyclists. (But not over cars apparently). Which I thought was a strange thing to say. Are marathon runners pedestrians ? LOL, I suppose a cop always has to have the last say and be in the right, whatever the case. He told me to wait while 3 runners and a huge motorbike went past and told me that I could carry on down the cycle path now that it was free. ( He didn't try and tell me to get off the path though, funny that...) so I told him to "have a nice day" and pushed off down the empty path... A minute later while I was thinking over the strange reply and barely hidden anticyclist sentiment of the cop, a runner swore at me in very strong language infront of my children. Fuming I asked a lone bystander what the route was and discovered that we were going to be abused like this for the next 10 km along our normal route. So we hooked a left as soon as we could and took a 10 km detour on another cyclepath to the east and north to avoid them. The mother in law (worried by the extra distance and the risk of not reaching the beach as a result) wanted to carry on with the runners as there were very few and we could share the path which is very wide. Sure, but I told her it would end in manslaughter by bicycle pump if another goon in lykra tried to push us off the path into the bushes, or swore at me in front of the children. I spent the next half hour calming down, fuming at the organisers of the marathon and the impossibility of people to share living space. Although I am sure I am wrong to catagorise runners as I did at that moment in time (I know some long distance runners and they are great people). This is the same kind selfishness that pushes people to drive cars so that they can be seperated from everyone in a bubble of polluting priviledge and comfort at the expense of others, the kind of people I take the cycle path to avoid...... To me this is another frustrating example of individualism and how cyclists are barely tolerated by "normal" people and how much crap we have to put up with in general.

We managed to have a great time any way and stopped in a beautiful poppy field for a rest.

Parked up at a new beach with a kiddy park, picnic, fruit from the local market, a drop of cool Sangria from a market stall to calm the nerves. The afternoon on the beach and playing in the sea was fantastic. Mrs Yuba joined us after work (Yes on a Sunday...) by car (she had to deliver stuff today, she normally travels by bike), and the mother in law was taken back in a car as she wasn't up to the return journey.

Round trip 44 km loaded up like a truck ! Was not planning on the extra 10 km but hey, was not a big deal for me anyway.


  1. We have occasional running events here in Manchester (well actually they are fairly frequent) but the local authority has the decency to post signs of road closures up in advance. I have a feeling that if the route went along one of the very small number of dedicated routes for cyclists this advance notice would also be absent. I don't mind sharing the road with other vehicles, here in the UK most roads do not have cycles lanes and most of the ones which do are "advisory" and thus are often filled with parked cars. Of the few proper cycles paths we have I have frequently seen signs telling cyclists to dismount, or cycle lane suspended when any road works are taking place. There is never an alternative provided because the lanes are just "wasted space."

  2. "Waste of space." Exactly what we were meant to feel like yesterday...

    I don't mind sharing either, I say hello to the majority of cyclists and pedestrians I meet and I often come across horses, cars, motorcycles, quads, scooters, often at great speed, who have no right to be on our cycleroute system.

    But I don't insult or assault them...

    And anyway we had every right to be on the cyclepath yesterday. There was plenty of space for every one and if the cops had told me to get off I would have...

    Perhaps I should just buy a 4x4 like everybody else...

  3. Part of the problem here is that a large number of our "cycle lanes" are actually traffic calming measures. Making roads look narrower makes people drive a bit slower, so by painting on a fake bike lane to shave off 40 cm from the road width slows traffic down and adds to the local authority's green credentials. The fact that it is useless doesn't matter in these cases, and they are often used as car parking.