Bike man in a rude mood . . .

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE -

HAVE some cy­clists be­come the new white van men? Some of them seem so an­gry and self-right­eous.

I stress SOME cy­clists, the ma­jor­ity are fine and show re­spect to other peo­ple in the coun­try­side.

How­ever, a small mi­nor­ity seem to think that they can travel, at speed, scat­ter­ing wildlife, dogs and small chil­dren in their path.

I had an un­for­tu­nate en­counter with such a ‘trail hog’ this week. My­self and my other half were walk­ing the dog along a path that has ‘no cy­cling’ signs at either end. The rea­son this path is re­stricted is be­cause there are sharp cor­ners and bushes re­strict­ing your view of on­com­ing walk­ers and dogs.

It is a pleas­ant walk along a lake side and there is a road pretty much par­al­lel for cy­clists to jump onto be­fore they can again join the river path fur­ther on.

Un­for­tu­nately, this wasn’t enough for Mr Cy­cle Shorts and Hel­met. Look­ing like a sec­ond-rate Robo Cop, he came thun­der­ing along the path, around the bushes and was close to hit­ting our Al­fie, who was hav­ing a nice sniff of a plant. Julie men­tioned that he should not be cy­cling on the path but his venom was tar­geted at me when I sug­gested he might get a bell.

He growled: “I can go where I like. Who is mak­ing up the rules? If I speak to a war­den, I can still come back in 18 hours. This bike cost me £3,000 why do I need a bell? Do you want me to get off?”

Dur­ing this rather odd tirade, I did sug­gest he had been robbed pay­ing £3,000 for a bike and they had for­got­ten to put on a bell. I sup­posed real men don’t need bells on their bike.

I wasn’t sure whether the ‘Do you want me to get off?’ was a threat or just an of­fer to walk the short board­walk to the cy­cle route, but it was funny.

How­ever, what­ever the rules, I pointed out that by bomb­ing along the path Robo Flop was show­ing lit­tle cour­tesy or re­spect to other peo­ple and to the safety of walk­ers.

Cer­tainly on hilly paths, cy­clists can reach some pretty high speeds and bikes – even £3,000 ones – are heavy and could do dam­age if they hit some­one. Most bik­ers are not ir­re­spon­si­ble or just plain stroppy. They cy­cle to get fit and to en­joy fresh air. Stick­ing to des­ig­nated cy­cle paths the ma­jor­ity of them, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, show cour­tesy and do sound their bells then they ap­proach walk­ers and dogs.

It is im­por­tant that we all re­spect each other when we en­joy the coun­try­side. We have all seen the dam­age self­ish peo­ple can do, af­ter the sum­mer fires on the moors.

Our coun­try­side be­longs to us all and we should all be able to en­joy it with­out com­ing into con­flict with oth­ers. Happy cy­cling.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of wildlife. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 Lo­cal Na­ture Re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The Trust has 29,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org.

Alan Wright

Cy­clists do stick to the rules of the coun­try­side

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