Nick Freeman - The Loophole lawyer on cyclists
PUBLISHED: 09:05 29 June 2020
Look out for the new pandemic stalking the Cheshire countryside – it wears Lycra and arrives on two wheels
I’ve always envied people who can cycle to work. All that head-clearing exercise, with the added bonus of calf muscles you can crack nuts with.
Unfortunately, a two-wheel commute has never been an option for me. Not only because my cases take me all over the country, but I’m not sure it’d be good for the ‘Mr Loophole’ image. Especially if it meant meeting A-list clients outside court with my trousers tucked in my socks.
But walking the lanes near my Cheshire home, it’s easy to see why so many people have taken to the saddle. Lockdown has gifted enthusiasts with car-free roads, sunny weather and of course – the rolling glory of the Cheshire countryside.
Yet how quickly some bikers have forgotten how cycling once meant vying with drivers to claim their inalienable right to ride. No longer the underdog, the cyclist now reigns supreme and it is the terrified pedestrians who’ve been reduced to dispensable small fry if they don’t leap out of the way in time.
Forget the warning tinkle of a polite biker’s bell. Since lockdown, our roads and lanes seem to swarm with militant, Lycra-clammy bikers whose thoughtlessness towards walkers is matched only by a disproportionate sense of entitlement.
Only the other week, a stroll with a friend’s young son on a deserted country lane near Bucklow Hill almost ended in disaster. As we ambled two metres apart, a cyclist suddenly came powering behind us like a bullet train. With no time to think, I yelled the little boy’s name and he nosedived into the hedgerow; the cyclist missing him by a whisker. Did the culprit stop and apologise? No. He sped away with impunity.
This, unhappily, was no isolated incident. Of course there are plenty of responsible cyclists on our roads. But it only takes one or two to light the touch paper to catastrophe unfortunately.
So, what’s to be done? Especially since Boris Johnson predicts that life post-lockdown will usher in a golden age of cycling. For this to happen safely we urgently need to change those with an entitled mind-set. Best articulated in a revision of the law to rescue pedestrians from cyclists, and protect cyclists and motorists.
One major problem is anonymity. Unlike motorists, cyclists can’t be identified. In my view, it should be compulsory for every cyclist to wear hi-vis jackets stamped with a registration number – akin to a number plate. There should also be compulsory insurance and a points system for rule breakers – sharing the road with motorists means sharing the law with drivers too.
I’m looking forward to...
Driving to Nottingham to see my mum in her garden
I’m not looking forward to…
Not being able to give her a kiss and a hug