Both cyclists and motorists should heed Highway Code
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I’m new to the game of cycling in the city.
Every working day, I pedal to and from work, getting used to different routes and danger spots.
I charge my lights, keep my tyres pumped up, wear a helmet and don a sensibly garish yellow jacket that makes me look like one of those people who unnecessarily points you into an achingly-obvious parking space at outdoor events.
I haven’t yet organised myself into buying cycle clips, so go for the fetching trouser-in-sock look. One for the ladies, I assure you.
All of the above illustrates my novice status. But I’m sure that my naivety doesn’t stretch to the rules of the road.
When I had to know the Highway Code (during that brief period at age 17 when we become transient road rule eggheads) I understood that the laws were pretty much the same for car drivers and cyclists.
Before motorists get all riled up about blasted cyclists who think they own the road, I’m not about to come over all sanctimonious about how us poor bike-jockeys are mistreated by you dastardly drivers.
Actually, quite the opposite. For a few weeks of cycling on the streets of Norwich has made me realise why drivers get so angry about those on two wheels.
I’ve seen countless examples of cyclists jumping lights, going the wrong way down streets and cycle lanes, weaving in and out of queuing cars, riding on pavements and generally sticking two fingers up at the rules and other road-users.
Then there are those who cycle on the road after dark without lights.
The whole thing bemuses and embarrasses me.
I do, of course, understand how tempting it is to break the rules and get there more quickly: I regularly champ at the bit when waiting at a red light or sitting in a queue.
But rules are rules – for all of us.
I suspect the rule-breakers are quick to shout and signal when a driver goes into a cycle lane or cuts them up (I had a frank and honest exchange of opinions with a white van man who did just that to me a few days ago. I agreed that I was right and he found a series of imaginative ways to describe me).
It cuts both ways. There’s no moral high ground to take if you’re stuck in the swamp of the low ground.
Put less pretentiously, cyclists should obey the road regulations
Who knows, it might just ease some of the enmity between us and some drivers.
A rush of emotions and memories as I sifted through the box from the loft
For reasons best known to myself, my short-term memory is failing.
In some ways, it’s a curse, as I make myself look even more silly at work than usual. But in other ways it’s a blessing: I’m able to try the same beer for the first time over and over again.
And when I scored a goal on Sunday, I thought it was my first competitive 11-a-side notch for 18 years. I’m sure I must’ve scored a hatful since then, really.
The unsettling departure of my short-term recall has given me a deeper appreciation of the gift of memories.
It was brought into sharp focus last week when I got down from the loft a boxful of belongings I hadn’t seen since they went up there in 1997.
The box contained football tickets from countless Norwich City matches, home and away, including at Bayern Munich and Internazionale.
It also held some very special books that I inherited from my granddad.
There were also all my school reports from age seven to age 16. I am now wise enough to know that “garrulous” and “lively” are teacher code for a pain in the backside. But the reminder that I could’ve been excellent at needlework if I’d made more effort still stings.
The items that gave me the most delight were the countless photographs that tracked my teens and early 20s and the private diary that I wrote for three years. Remember, it was the era of Adrian Mole, so a daily gush of angst was all the rage.
My photos and diaries have ushered in a rush of memories – along with the emotions that go with them:
• Embarrassment at a particular haircut (mine included a pony-tail, an undercut, a flat-top, a mullet, curtains, a crew cut, a parting – on either side, unless some of my photos were developed back-to-front – swept back, brushed forward, Liam Gallagher, you name it).
• Pride at an achievement - the one I still bore my children with is captaining Cromer under-16s to the league and cup double, all while wearing a headband.
• Sadness about the girlfriend who got away (I don’t mean literally got away, like escaped, you understand?)
• Regret at the passing of the years.
• Joy as I recalled great times with friends and family.
But I also stopped to wonder whether the coming generations will ever have a similar experience.
How many younger people will have piles of photo albums to look through? And how many will keep a diary?
Today’s photos are seen instantaneously, shared within seconds – then pass into the electronic ether. And the era of smart phones and multi-channel TVs is paring back concentration levels to far short of those required for diary writing.
It’s not necessarily bad, but it is sad that people won’t experience that box-out-of-the-loft moment.
(By the way, my final diary entry was on July 5, 1990, headed “Official Day of Mourning”. No prizes for working out which event stopped my musings for ever.)
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