This morning as I travelled into my local town I was stuck behind a small white van with a sticker on the rear. ‘Cyclists. Stay Back.’ Now, being of a bloody minded and contrary nature, my immediate reaction was to want to pass. Who did they think they were, commanding me to Stay Back?
Some would say the message was there for my own safety. That if I dared to pass a vehicle I deserved all I got when it didn’t see me and flattened me. But, I, on my bicycle am not the danger, vehicles are. Why can’t I have a jacket which flashes such demands to motorists. ‘Don’t turn left in front of me.’ ‘Sort your exhaust out it is leading me to a slow death.’ ‘Get off your phone and pay attention.’ Oh I long for the day when such a thing is invented.
While we’re at it. Why should I be forced to share town centre roads with dangerous lorries and vehicles which have blind spots and can’t see other road users? Why can’t their goods be moved by trains and distributed into towns by smaller vehicles? If these vehicles can’t be changed to be safe then should they be on our streets at all?
But would I have been so annoyed if the sign had been worded in a way which didn’t sound like it was issuing an order? That didn’t make me feel like I was a second class road user who should know my place and give way to my betters? If it had been worded in a way that made me aware that the vehicle in front wasn’t up to scratch when it came to visibility and apologised for that?
To make matters worse this sign had been issued by Transport for London. By the Mayor of London no less. Shouldn’t they be promoting green transport not blaming cyclist for road accidents? And what are they doing issuing orders to cyclists in the Medway towns anyway?
Cyclists have as much right on the roads as everyone else. After all we were there first. I won’t be commanded to stay back. I will make decisions based on my own road awareness and common sense which is more than can be said for many people who sit behind the wheel.