Rights of the cyclist

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Walking through the narrow paths and alley ways of Stone Town, Zanzibar, I found I could seldom relax into a totally reflective mood, because there was always the possibility that a cyclist, motorcyclist or someone pushing a wheelbarrow or something similar would want to get past. There were no clear boundaries for pedestrians and for those travelling with a pair of wheels.

In actual fact, things are similar nowadays in London. At times, I rush to cross a major street as the lights are about to change for motorists to start moving, only to find that when I reach the pavement, a cyclist is in the way, leaving me nowhere to arrive to safely.

There are several cities I have visited in Europe (possibly in Germany) where there are clear lanes for cyclists that are separate from those for pedestrians or motorists. Obviously it costs money to create that sort of order on the streets if they were not there before, but I wonder if the borough councils in London should introduce new rules about the rights of pedestrians to walk safely on pavements.

It hasn’t reached the stage yet that pedestrians in London are having motorbikes running over their feet, as I nearly experienced in Lagos with the dreaded okada bikers when I visited there last, but it seems possible that things could get out of hand if they are not addressed in the near future.

I can see that cycling is good for physical exercise and the environment. To avoid situations where pedestrians get injured for doing nothing wrong, something needs to be done by the town planners and local authorities.