WILDLIFE has taken advantage of the lockdown to turn up in unexpected places. Foxes have mugged picnickers in Aberdeen, mountain goats butted into gardens in Llandudno and deer, if not antelope, have been home on the range in east London. Noticeably, another garishly coloured, protected species has emerged, usually in packs, during the lockdown; the easily spotted cyclist.

The proliferation of peddlers has heightened the simmering tension between those taking their lockdown leisure on two legs as opposed to two wheels. Cyclists need protection from inconsiderate or careless drivers but pedestrians deserve protection from inconsiderate and careless cyclists. The Deeside Way in Aberdeenshire is a shared space for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Signs invite cyclists to respect others, but it has become a lockdown war zone. Biking bullies frequently approach from the rear at high speed.

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One lycra lout, narrowly missing me and clearly mistaking me for his dog, shouted back over his shoulder, “I whistled”. Cyclists think a bell undermines their street cred. A bit ironic really, when squeezed into migraine-inducing lycra budgie smugglers. A few years back Aberdeen City Council handed out free bells on the Deeside Way. The well-intentioned scheme didn’t chime with cyclists, however, and intimidatory riding persists. Many fail to consider whether a pedestrian is elderly, hard of hearing or in my case, both. I witnessed a pedestrian being bowled over with the cyclist making off before the victim got to his feet. No doubt the culprit stopped around the next corner to delete the evidence from his helmet-mounted camera.

There’s a serious point to made here. Injuries arising from accidents involving cars must be reported. A driver commits a serious offence if he or she leaves the scene. Drivers are easily identified and traced and injured parties can seek redress through the courts or the driver’s insurance. Pedestrians injured in collisions with cyclists have little or no protection or redress. Accidents are rarely reported or recorded. Getting a cyclist’s details or detaining him at the scene? Good luck with that.

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It’s noticeable that, despite the cost, electric bikes are becoming more popular. Inevitably injuries to pedestrians will become more serious. This is as good a time as any to re-examine the outdated law. A cyclist involved in a fatal accident in 2017 was prosecuted under legislation dating back to 1861. At the very least, legislation should make it compulsory for cyclists to stay at the scene of an accident and provide their details. Third-party insurance should at least be considered with confiscation of offenders’ bikes a reasonable sanction. Legislation would not be a spoke in cyclists’ wheels, simply a brake on the irresponsible and downright dangerous.

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