Are some cyclists just yobs in tight shorts?
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Why aren't more people willing to ditch their cars and cycle around East Anglia? Perhaps the disgusting behaviour of some cyclists is the real reason.
Walking through town earlier this week I witnessed some utterly foul human behaviour.
A young woman in a pristine, little, turquoise car slowly came to a halt at a zebra crossing to allow the pedestrians to safely make it across the road.
About 10 people began to cross. Midway across the road one of the pedestrians recognised the young woman in the little car. "Hi there" she shouted and waved at her friend, slowing her pace only marginally and certainly not holding anyone up.
The motorist waved out of her window in acknowledgement. Then with a blur and a whoosh three cyclists sped passed the pedestrian apparently ignoring the crossing.
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The woman on foot let out a yelp - and not surprisingly. If these thugs on bikes had hit her at that speed they would have caused serious injury.
But what happened next was perhaps even more shocking. I continued walking and caught up with the turquoise car and the yobbos at the next set of lights.
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An argument had ensued presumably after the motorist took umbradge to her friend almost being flattened. The cyclists had rounded on the woman, jabbing fingers at her and shouting.
It was one of those scenes that send a sickening feeling to the stomach.
But these three reprobates were not teenagers on stolen BMXs. These were not your average ne'er-do-wells. These were three middle-aged men on what appeared to be very expensive bikes.
Above the cacophony the final exchange went something like this: "Don't tell us me what to do from the comfort of your car as you pollute the planet ... I hope you get fat." I have removed several expletives.
And to enrage my growing anger further the trio then jumped the red light.
I have no problem with your average cyclist. Have you ever seen someone with a basket on the front of their bike jump a light or crash a crossing? Nope.
It is a tiny minority of - almost exclusively male - cyclists who appear to think of themselves as special just because they have enough money to splash out on a super-light racer.
They often ride in groups and bleat on constantly about how awfully drivers treat them. Boo hoo.
Now, to be clear I am not suggesting that drivers are faultless. Many people get behind the wheel and simply do not pay attention to people on bikes and that is clearly very dangerous - and can be life-threatening.
In East Anglia's towns and cities more must be done to accommodate people on bikes. But when improvements are made they are often not adequate. The example in Norwich just this week of a cycle path with trees dotted in the middle of it proves just that.
But I am afraid I find it very difficult to have any sympathy for the ultra-slick, leg-shaved, aerodynamic-obsessed Lycra louts that appear on Norfolk and Suffolk's roads in increasing numbers.
And the climate change comment by the leader of the gang of three described above struck a particularly raw nerve with me. Is the man in question suggesting he and his fellow pedal-felons are above the law simply because they are cycling?
The incident I witnessed is sadly not the first time I have seen bad behaviour on bikes. Who hasn't witnessed drop-handle hooligans mounting pavements when it suits them or lobbing their energy gel packs in to thickets on country lanes?
There are several reason I don't cycle anymore - I did as a younger man. But the lack of cycle lanes and my own safety are not the main ones. Frankly I don't want people to think I am a self-righteous, stuck-up, oblivious, preening member of the pugnacious peloton.
Perhaps if some cyclists behaved better more people would ride bikes.