Plan to break law to stay safe

From: Benjamin Osler, Sedlescombe Road South, St Leonards

I live on Sedlescombe Road South and for the past two years, have been cycling a simple and straight route to and from my workplace at Upper Church Road.

The mile long journey to work takes me from St Matthew’s Gardens, down Sedlescombe Road South, past Asda, and along Battle Road.

I am generally a law abiding person and, until recently, have never considered cycling on the pavement. Indeed, cyclists on the pavement have traditionally been a bugbear of mine.

I am now writing to you to let you know that my experience of on this particular route has caused me to re-evaluate my position to the extent that I now plan to wilfully risk breaking the law.

As you may be aware, Battle Road was recently re-surfaced which is a good thing for all motorists.

However, there do remain many dangerous potholes along the route, particularly on both sides of the junction at Battle Road and Blackman Avenue.

Here, I feel that the only safe thing to do, is to pull right into the centre of the road to take control of the primary lane and I am, more often than not, the brunt of a drivers’ anger for doing so.

I consider myself to be a considerate cyclist, and do generally keep to the left of the road to give motorists a chance to pass me.

When heading north, past the slip road to Asda, for example, I keep to the primary lane at the lights, but do slow right down, keeping to the left, before starting my descent, in order to let traffic behind me pass safely. Battle Road itself is not particularly wide and has parked cars all the way along it on both sides.

Drivers often open their doors on the road side, and this can be potentially very dangerous for cyclists.

As you may know, the law for motorists overtaking cyclists was recently changed, and they must now technically give 1.5 metre clearance.

Rarely has a vehicle given me this space. Most vehicles overtake dangerously close and on one occasion a van actually hit the mirror attached to the right hand side of my handlebar.

I do understand that many people are in a hurry to get home after the day’s work and although I’m not a driver, I do have some sympathy with motorists who have to slow down behind cyclists and who must wait to overtake safely.

My life, however, is the only one I’ve got, and unfortunately I now feel the need to break the law by riding on the pavement.

I will do so at a crawl.

I will be considerate and attentive to pedestrians and I will ring my bell to make them aware that I am there – an act that, in itself, can be perceived by pedestrians as a sign of entitlement, rather than the spirit in which it is intended – as an action that promotes safety for all.

I have not made this decision lightly and do not want to break the law. I would far rather cycle on an even surface without increased risk to pedestrians as well as a higher risk of puncturing my tyres on broken glass.

I understand that the police must use their discretion with cyclists who use the pavement and that safety for all is their primary goal.

I would hope that my consideration for pedestrians, in conjunction with the good sense that police officers tend to use, would mean that I will avoid a fine, but should it come to that, I am ready to pay or fight my case.