As you can see, last Sunday was a glorious day, so my son and I went for a bike ride. We’re very lucky to have this wonderful nature reserve near us. You can bring your own bikes or hire them there; you can just come to walk your dog or your kids; you can bring a picnic or buy something from the cafe; there’s also a playground area with lots of fun wood and rope things to climb on, swing on, or spin on. There’s some water you can sit by. But we generally just go there to ride in a car-free environment. Which brings me to the point of this post…
They have a long cycle track there that goes all around the place – you don’t have to stick to the cycle track, you can bike off-road across various terrains and through the woodland areas. The cycle track is pretty much the only area that has rules, and they are these:
– You must cycle around the track in one direction only (and there are regularly posted arrow signs to remind you of the direction).
– The narrower lane, i.e. the other side of the red line in the picture of me, is for fast cycling only (like the fast lane at the swimming pool).
– Everyone, adults and children alike, must wear a cycle helmet (actually this rule applies to wherever you are cycling there, not just on the track).
– You must not walk on the track, it is for cycling only.
At any time, you can cycle round the track and find people breaking every one of those rules; you will meet people cycling towards you, you will see people cycling at a snail’s pace in the fast lane, you will observe bare unhelmeted heads, you will have to dodge round the little groups of people walking with their unpredictable dogs and children on the track. I know it looks deserted on the photos, but I assure you we weren’t the only ones there that day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in blindly following every rule everywhere without questioning it, nor do I believe in wrapping kids in cotton wool to protect them from every little thing, but these rules are there for everyone’s safety. It’s not “Health and safety gone mad” as some people would say. When you have a track that is shared by professional bikers who are training, young children who have just learned to ride, and everyone in between, then I consider these rules to be sensible and reasonable.
This then led me to ponder on what the reasons are that people don’t follow the rules of the cycle track. I have come up with nine possibles so far:
1. They can’t read.
2. They don’t understand the point of the rules.
3. They don’t think the rules apply to them.
4. They are unobservant and haven’t even noticed that there are any rules.
5. They think the rule signs are just there for decoration.
6. They see other people breaking the rules so assume it’s ok to do so.
7. There isn’t anybody really enforcing the rules, so they know they can get away with it.
8. They haven’t witnessed anybody getting hurt so they feel this proves the rules aren’t needed.
9. They think the rules are an infringement of their civil liberties.
I happen to know, because I chat with the guy at the bike hiring shed, that when they first opened the track they didn’t have any rules, and those rules have been brought in as a direct response to accidents that have happened there. Yes I know that accidents could still happen even if everyone followed the rules, but it’s about reducing risk without stopping enjoyment. It just makes me a bit cross that people are continually showing blatant disregard for the rules.
People have often laughed at me for always wanting to do things properly or always asking whether we’re “allowed” to do something, so I’m wondering what you think here folks – am I right to feel a bit cross about people continually breaking these rules? After all, they are potentially putting me and my children at greater risk of having an accident, not just themselves. Or should I just lighten up a bit?