We have to put the brakes on reckless riders, writes Melissa Kite

We have to put the brakes on reckless riders, writes Melissa Kite

08/17/2022

We have to put the brakes on reckless riders: One way or another, these menaces of the road have got the idea that they can do what they like. Well, it’s time we did something about it, writes MELISSA KITE

The last time I rode my horse on the country lanes of Surrey, I nearly didn’t come back. All thanks to a gang of cyclists.

Only a few steps from the gate of the stable yard, a racing club in formation swarmed downhill towards me, spread across the lane. As poor Darcy began to panic, I screamed: ‘No, please!’

But they kept on coming. The bikes swirled around Darcy and suddenly she was spinning in circles – right into the path of a car behind me.

I clung to her neck to stop myself falling, and saw the look on the driver’s face.

We were so close I think we both thought I was about to end up on the bonnet. To this day, Darcy trembles when she hears the faintest whoosh of a bike.

Cyclists could be forced to have registration numbers, insurance and observe speed limits under a radical shake-up of road laws (file photo)

Anyone prepared to hurtle past a woman clinging to the neck of a terrified horse is not safe to be on the roads unlicensed and uninsured.

That’s why I’m delighted that, as the Mail reports today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is hinting changes might be in the offing – including speed limits and registration plates for these menaces of the road who have earned the nickname ‘Lycra louts’.

This is long overdue. Many vulnerable road users have not been as lucky as I was to escape unscathed from encounters with the two-wheeled terrors.

Of course, most cyclists are law-abiding and just want to get safely from A to B while enjoying a bit of exercise.

But just as the rules of the road are there for a minority of bad drivers, a small number of dangerous cyclists risk tainting the good name of the majority and should be kept in check.

Some cyclists flagrantly break the law: running red lights, ignoring pedestrian crossings, weaving in and out of lanes and mounting pavements.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has hinted to introducing restrictions on cyclists, including speed limits

But as Mr Shapps points out, speeding on a bike isn’t illegal. The political power of the cyclist lobby is now such that other road users are made to bow down before it.

And this, in many cases, has gone to cyclists’ heads. They think they can get away with anything.

In 2016, 44-year-old mother-of-two Kim Briggs died when she was hit by a cyclist as she crossed the road in east London.

Her killer, Charlie Alliston, then 18, was illegally riding a bike with no front brakes.

Pictured: Melissa Kite

He shouted ‘Get the f*** out of my way’ before smashing into her.

Yet he was jailed for just 18 months because no law existed to charge him with the equivalent punishment of causing death by dangerous driving – indeed, he had to be convicted under Victorian legislation dating to the time of the horse and trap.

I dislike red tape and am an instinctive libertarian, but we need a system of parity between all road users.

As my experience shows, the situation is dire in the countryside, where weekend cycling clubs are increasingly using the public roads as a racing track.

And it’s not just the accidents they cause. It’s their anti-social behaviour.

The atmosphere in many once-genteel areas has been ruined by the arrogant mentality of cyclists, hurtling along with selfish aggression.

Of course, there is no excuse for motorists not taking care around bikes, and all incidents of negligence by cars are deplorable.

But while we rightly insist on good driving, it’s time for cyclists to take some responsibility, too.

Infrastructure in our cities increasingly favours cyclists at the expense of drivers, pedestrians and everyone else.

Kim Briggs (pictured) was killed in 2018 by a cyclist, Charlie Alliston, riding a bike with no breaks. Alliston received only 18 months in prison and was prosecuted under a Victorian law.

Very often in the congested city streets, cyclists are the only people going more than 20mph – and sometimes without wearing a helmet or while listening to music on headphones.

Boris Johnson, himself a keen cyclist, rightly called behaviour ‘absolutely nuts’ when he was London mayor after a spate of deaths in 2013.

As long ago as 2012, a survey found 57 per cent of cyclists had jumped a red light – and things seem no better now.

In February, police in Hackney, east London, caught 18 cyclists running red lights in 90 minutes.

One way or another, riders have got the idea that they can do what they like. Well, it’s time we did something about it.

Mr Shapps’s plans are a good start, but politicians must stand up more firmly against the cycling lobby.

They must stop kow-towing to groups such as Cycling UK, which seem to rule by force of numbers.

Their slogan is ‘Giving us a Louder Voice’. Recent changes to the Highway Code, letting bikes hold the centre of the road, show how noisy they already are.

The freedom given to bikes has gone too far. We need to make cyclists accountable.

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