Oh, the looniness of the 6 am runner!! I was driving to my daughter’s house at around 6 this morning and managed not to run over a jogger – running in the road!! Yes, she was wearing a high visibility vest so there was no possibility of my not seeing her. And yes I exaggerate a little; I really came nowhere near running her over. Nonetheless, the fact is that at 6 in the morning it is still very dark in this part of the world. And this morning it was extra dull and drizzly. And she was running IN THE ROAD. And there was a perfectly good empty pavement she could have been running on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against runners. I run myself. In fact, this very morning after dropping the grandchildren off at school I almost certainly convinced an old colleague that I was quite mad by refusing her offer of a lift home on the grounds that I was planning to run. It’s part of my Monday morning routine unless it’s throwing it down with rain. So I have every sympathy with all who run, especially those truly dedicated ones who run in the dark because they have to set off for work at around 7 am. I feel quite fortunate not to have to be tied to such a routine. Having one day a week when I get up early (no, at the crack of dawn) to help my daughter is quite enough.
No, my argument was with WHERE she was running. I see no point in putting yourself at risk by running where the cars go when there is a perfectly good pavement to run on. I have the same quarrel the other way round with cyclists who seem to think they should ride on the pavement. To my way of thinking, the only people who should ride bikes on the pavement are small children. When I was a small child they even used to talk about “pavement bikes” and “road bikes”. As a rule you graduated from the first to the second when you were about 10 years old. If you are big enough to ride a grow-up bike with all the gears and so on, then you should ride it on the road.
I am aware that some people prefer the pavement because they find the traffic rather daunting. And I do know that there are far more cars on the road now than when I was a small child. Even so, grown-up cyclists should learn to use the road. You do need to wear high visibility clothing but they will never establish a proper system of cycle paths if people keep riding on the pavement. Pavements are for people to walk on and I object to being bowled over by speedy bikes. It’s especially annoying in our neck of the woods as there are many bridle paths and canal towpaths which provide traffic-free cycle routes.
While I’m on the subject of bikes and cyclists, here are a few other things which try my patience:
• cyclists who ride in pairs on the road, insisting on their right to take up the space of a car regardless of the fact that they don’t go as fast as cars and so hold up all the traffic.
• cyclists who ride at dusk, or even in the darkest dark, without lights. Like many pedestrians, they seem unable to understand how invisible you are on the road in the darkness. (I even heard recently of a young teenager who had a big row with his mum over lights on bikes. She said that if he didn’t put the lights she had bought on his bike he couldn’t ride it. He said that it wasn’t cool to have lights and that none of his friends did so. Crazy world!!)
• cyclists who creep up behind you on the bridle path and only at the last minute give a feeble shout to let you know they are there. What’s wrong with a good old bicycle bell?
You may wonder what gives me the right to go on like this. Well, I do have a bike and I ride it on the road although I prefer the bridle paths and have discovered that you can go for quite a distance without having to be in traffic. I don’t have lights on my bike at the moment so I only cycle by day. But I do have a very loud and effective bicycle bell.
Onto other matters. I read with interest at the weekend the story of the passengers who had to pay for the fuel to get their plane to take off for London. I hope no-one tells the RyanAir people. If they get wind of this it will be their next money-grabbing gimick!
And finally, the Spanish have voted out Mr Zapatero and replaced him with the rightwing Mr Rajoy. It remains to be seen whether this bearded chappie can make much progress in the fight against national debt, la crisis, youth unemployment and all the other ills of modern society. At least he has been elected, which is more than can be said for some people!