Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Some road users are more equal than others

Commuting through London every day I get to see a lot of things happening. Some of it is good, some of it is bad, and some of it is interesting. A couple of the happenings on my commute recently have occurred at a particular crossroads. It is quite a busy junction in central London with traffic lights and a hashed yellow box in the middle. It is the junction of Long Lane, Goswell Road, Beech Street, and Aldersgate Street right by the Barbican tube station (google map). This is a junction I cross every day, going straight across from Long Lane to Beech Street in the morning and turning right from Goswell Road to Long Lane in the evening.

The first incident was on the way home after work. I pulled into the advance stop box at the traffic lights and waited for them to change. When they did I pulled forward to the middle of the junction and waited for the traffic to clear so I could turn right. There was a queue of traffic behind me all wanting to turn right but this wasn’t a problem as there are two lanes at this point so the traffic going straight on is not blocked. Which was all perfectly normal. Then a blue Mercedes came from behind me, all the way past the queue in the straight ahead lane and pulled into the head of the queue in front of me. I was not sure whether the driver thought she was too important to queue or made a genuine mistake as she was distracted by talking on her mobile phone. Luckily it was a sunny day and she had her window down so I enquired what she was doing and whether she really ought to be using her phone while driving. I didn’t swear much but she took offence and proceeded to try and knock me off my bike as we passed each other a couple of times going past Smithfields Market and no I am not exaggerating!

The next incident was in the morning on the way to work. The lights were red, so being a good boy I stopped at the lights as I always do. Someone else on a BMX decided that red lights didn’t apply to him and he turned right from Goswell Road into Long Lane. People that jump red lights often claim they only do it when they can see it is safe. Well if he had been looking properly he would have seen the mountain bike copper and the two PCs on foot waiting by the junction in florescent jackets. As he went through the junction he was closely followed by the police mountain bike with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding. Very impressive, my commute would be so much better if I could get one of those.

The mounted PC handed the BMXer over to the guys on foot and then pulled up at the junction next to me. He then made some comment along the lines of “I bet you’re glad you stopped at the lights.” To be fair he may have been trying to strike up a friendly conversation with a fellow cyclist, but early mornings and commuting through London don’t have a particularly positive effect on my mood. So I asked him what he was going to do about the car parked in the cycle lane 20 metres behind us.

“I can’t do anything about that. The only thing we could try to get him for is causing an obstruction, but it’s only cyclists he is obstructing so there is nothing we can do.”

It appears that some road users are more equal than others.

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