Cycling is a very enjoyable mode of transport. It takes you anywhere you want to go, includes the benefit of cheap maintenance as compared to other modes of transport, and supplies the exercise you need.

As someone who travels to work by bicycle every day, it is important for me to keep my bicycle maintained. The total costs of bicycle maintenance runs just shy of £200 in just under two years.

The equivalent of two years having taken the bus to work daily would be £862.50. That's a saving of £662.50 taking the bicycle to work than using public transport. This number factors in holidays taken (given the total number of holidays equates to 25 days), public holidays and given the cost of the bus is on average £3.75 per return journey (no seasonal passes are considered in this equation).

However, I am also a vulnerable road user. I wear a slightly worn helmet (but nothing major that it requires replacement), ensure lights are charged during the winter season and at night time, and use the road when an opportunity arises or I am on the left side of the road to enter it seamlessly without issue.

Having ridden for two years, you expect to have had some accidents on the road. I have had my fair share of them, one of which led to a hospital visit due to a fractured shoulder.

Of these accidents included:

  1. Riding around a roundabout, car pulled out in front of me and I ended up hitting the backside of the car, damaging the bicycle and knocking me off. No emergency attention was required, but I was in a bit of shock. This was my first accident and was the driver's fault.
  2. Falling off my bicycle while standing on the pedestals waiting for a bus to overtake me. This was entirely my fault, and led to the hospital visit. Managed to walk for 10 minutes back home and managed to wait until the following day before reviewing my shoulder. By the Saturday (two days after the accident), it became clear there was a problem and got an x-ray to confirm the fracture present in the shoulder-blade.
  3. Fell off my bicycle while attempting to make the pavement from the road due to cars stopping in front of me on a rainy day, leading to the wheel slipping against the curb and causing me to fall. Again, my fault.
  4. Despite having my lights on at night time, a car leaving a parking space onto a main road slowed down in front of me on the pavement, due to not being able to leave the parking space straight away. Although I had slowed down, it looked like the car was going to move off, so continued riding. However, with little prior notice I saw the car reversing, but by the time I could do anything I was already too close to the rear of the vehicle, leading to a collision. Partly my fault, partly the driver's fault for reversing on a pavement and not using his mirrors.
  5. This fifth one actually happened today (13th October 2022). I was cycling on a cycle path in Bournemouth town centre gardens. Sometimes there are cars parked up behind a café just before some leisure facilities, which shrinks the path and reduces cycle/pedestrian movement. On my way through at a reasonable speed, a man walked out from the pavement directly to the left, but he stopped to let me pass. Having seen this, I also noticed another man with a dog. I didn't see the leash until it was too late, forcing me to slam my brakes to prevent injury to either the dog or the pedestrian. It didn't help that the leash was unbelievably thin and was a similar colour to the ground. I got injured, while the pedestrian and the dog remained stable and well. You could say this was my fault for riding too fast, but a cycle lane typically implies that cyclists can go up to a certain speed. The bylaw in Bournemouth requires riders to stay within a 10 miles per hour speed, which I was obeying. In actuality, dog walkers should not be obstructing a cycle lane, posing a health & safety risk to cyclists.

The fifth point was the reason for writing this article. Not only am I losing my patience with the stupidity of some people, but it is becoming increasingly clear that every day there is always someone getting in the way.

Understandably, combined pedestrian and cycle lanes requires some degree of attention from both pedestrians and cyclists. But dog walkers who obstruct cycle lanes and know they are in the way of cyclists have no moral standing in this debate.

It is beyond hopeless to try enforcing some bylaw or bystander that requires dog walkers to only take pedestrian-only lanes, and prohibit them from using cycle lanes. In Bournemouth town centre gardens, there are a total of three lanes, one a combined pedestrian/cycle lane, while the other two strictly pedestrian-only.

But people don't listen. Neither cyclists nor pedestrians do. We are a burden on each other, because we refuse to use our brain cells and common sense. It is one of the reasons why I feel like there is no point in living. People are just too stupid to have to deal with daily.

As someone who works in customer services, this is normally a non-issue but I would rather deal with angry customers than stupid pedestrians, because at least it's a job that needs to get done and doesn't cause me physical injury. Outside, in the real world, it's a different situation, and it's seemingly getting worse. I'm slamming my brakes more often, due to idiot drivers or dog walkers taking up most of the cycle path.

Most of my frustration is ultimately based on the fact that I recently took my bicycle to a bike shop for repairs, and now I have to repair it again. Luckily, it's not so damaged that it's unusable, but it's a frustration nobody should have to deal with, and frankly what's the point in cycling if I'm being forced to cycle at the walking speed of everyone else to prevent collision? Might as well walk to work at this rate.

I'm not one to ask for more rules and frankly, the UK government needs a lesson in subconscious programming again as it seems their slipping into the net of more draconian rules which most people ignore anyway. However, there comes a time when a frequent cyclist whose frequently altercating with pedestrians or drivers due to this, that or the other, is only proving that more needs to be done, and I'm not requesting more rules.

In the past, you were required to take a proficiency test for cycling. Bring it back. I'd be more than happy to take it once a year or two, brush up on my cycling skills and increase my confidence on the roads. Proficiency tests would be a good idea, and placing a badge on your bicycle to show it has been taken can go a long way in dealing with idiot cyclists who don't abide by the rules.

This would make roads safer for everyone, not the increase in draconian road rules. We can all agree that cycling should be made safer, but cyclists share just as much responsibility for the safety of other road users as drivers do. It isn't a stupid idea, and this should be enforced. How? Same way as not having a tax disc in your car would be a felony.

Increase cyclist confidence, improve cyclists' skills and this will make roads and cycle lanes safer for all. And if a collision does happen, you can determine fault based on the presence of a recent pass on a proficiency test, as this can be a significant judge on a cyclists' capabilities and force all cyclists to be more reasonable.

And this is coming from me, who is a cyclist. I want to be safe just as much as pedestrians and drivers on the roads do. It would benefit everyone for the return of proficiency tests. Get it done.