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Letter: The Cycling Debate – A Balanced View

Cycle Race ClosuresFrom Ben Osborn

As a Surrey resident, a daily car driver in the Surrey Hills and a cyclist I hope to offer a balanced view.

I think an accurate figure of road closures needs to be shown as it is not the case that this is happening regularly.  To my knowledge it is once a year for the Pru and once for the Vachery triathlon.

I don’t think this is unacceptable given the benefits that major sporting events and training for such events brings to our towns and villages.  One only needs to look at the local cafes to see how busy they are on wet rainy Sunday’s with cyclists! Without these Lycra clad people, they would be empty on such days.

On the weekend of the Vachery triathlon, Cranleigh was significantly busier than usual on a Saturday and people were spending money in shops, cafes and restaurants.

Perhaps we should all consider how we can get on better together with a bit of give and take.  Yes, cyclists must respect the high way code and ride sensibly, but so too must car drivers.  Waiting for an extra 10secs to overtake a bike or pack of bikes will not impact your day at all, but it could prevent a major accident.

The UK is riding a wave of sport following the Olympics, so let’s embrace it. Surely whether you are an anti cyclist or an avid rider, you agree that getting out in the fresh air on your bike in Surrey is good for our health.

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13 Responses to Letter: The Cycling Debate – A Balanced View

  1. Mark Catlin Reply

    November 1, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Roads were built for cars. If you want to ride your bike for fun go and ride round the park.

    OK, if you’re a professional cyclist, then you have to train, but this has become an upper class hobby for a bunch of posh people racing around on roads thinking they’re faster than cars. I have no sympathy for any of these people.

    Keith Chesterton refers to ‘car dominated roads and streets of Surrey’. What is wrong with that? Roads are for cars not for bikes. These cyclists make me laugh. It’s just a new fashionable hobby for, mainly, arrogant, upper class idiots. What were you all doing before you bought a bike? Tennis courts must be emptier these days.

    • Paul Batchelor Reply

      November 2, 2013 at 3:26 am

      Mark Catlin is ill informed and incorrect.

      “Highway: The general legal definition deals with right of use not the form of construction; this is distinct from e.g. the popular use of the word in the US. A highway is defined in English common law by a number of similarly-worded definitions such as “a way over which all members of the public have the right to pass and repass without hindrance” usually accompanied by “at all times”; ownership of the ground is for most purposes irrelevant thus the term encompasses all such ways from the widest trunk roads in public ownership to the narrowest footpath providing unlimited pedestrian access over private land.”

      Roads have been present in the UK for at least 5000 years, horses used as transport since the first century AD, bicycles since the early 1800′s. The first motor vehicle did not appear in the UK until 1895.

      Road’s were not built for cars.

      Perhaps, if Mr Catlin is offended at having to share a public space with other members of society, he could consider some quality ‘me’ time, alone in the now empty courts.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    November 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    How the world has changed. I used to cycle everywhere long before it was fashionable. I was not trying to be green nor was I an ‘arrogant upper class idiot’ but a working apprentice (RAE Farnborough Indentured) simply trying to get around.

    I also cycled for pleasure and would laugh at the E-type driver stuck in the queue coming off Hayling Island (he eventually passed me at Petersfield coming down Butser Hill before it was lowered). Is it no longer safe to be working class and use transport other than a car?

    Perhaps my expensive walking boots could pigeon-hole me? Do they make me an arrogant, ignorant toff or simply someone tired after many many miles and years behind the wheel, enjoying the freedom of no tax and no ever rising fuel prices and no parking problems?

  3. Jon Camden Reply

    November 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Er, roads have been around for 1000s of years and cars for 120. I think you’ll find that roads were built for horses, carts, wagons.

    I ride with a cycling club of over 300 members – nearly all of them are ordinary people out to get fit and enjoy themselves, and none of them are posh.

    I also drive and own a car.

    Share and share alike and a bit of respect and tolerance all round will make for a better and safer Surrey.

  4. Stuart Thompson Reply

    November 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    It may be news to some Surrey motorists, but “their” roads are actually public roads available for use, within the law, by all of the public. I suggest that learn to treat all lawful road users with the courtesy and respect which they, no doubt, demand for themselves.

  5. Keith Chesterton Reply

    November 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I see Mr Catlin has now moved me to the “upper class”.

    Does this mean I will now have to wear a boater when I ride my bike? And will I have to give up playing snooker, throw away my darts trophy & stop eating bacon sarnies at roadside pull-ups?

    Could I ask these opponents of cycling to use more original insults. “Lycra louts”, “twits”, “upper class” These worn out stereotypes are so dull.

  6. Mark Catlin Reply

    November 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Do you think proper roads have been around for 5000 years?

    Does Jon Camden think roads were laid with tarmac for horses?

    Dirt-tracks have been around for thousands of years for horse and carts, proper roads were only laid down for the existence of motor vehicles.

    A highway in ‘modern times’ primarily exists for the use of motor vehicles and footpaths for pedestrians. I do realise bikes have been around long before cars and do believe if this latest bike craze is to continue, maybe all roads should be widened to accommodate cyclists?

    I have no argument with anyone cycling to work or from A-B, but groups of cyclists, cycle clubs, and hobby cyclists to be using the highways for their recreation? I do not agree with it. If only riding for fun/fitness then why not buy a mountain bike and stay off the roads?

  7. Keith Reeves Reply

    November 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    It’s sad to see such intolerant and misguided comments as Mr Catlin’s. Perhaps we can take him out for ride?

  8. Mark Catlin Reply

    November 11, 2013 at 10:59 am

    It is sad, in my view, that Mr. Reeves cannot tolerate another persons opinion that goes against what he believes.

    What would any objectors say if, for instance, ‘horse and trap’ racing on roads was to become the next big thing, and on a weekend 100′s of these took legally to the streets to practise for various events?

    At what point does using the public highway for ‘recreational’ purposes become too much?

  9. Keith Reeves Reply

    November 17, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I disagree with Mr Catlin’s views (and I note that I am not alone) but find it difficult to see where I have not tolerated his right to make them.

  10. Mark Catlin Reply

    November 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Mr Reeves, in his previous comment, referred to my comment as ‘intolerant’.

    He says he disagrees but does not answer my questions. Why am I wrong in his opinion?

    I believe there has sadly been a number of deaths on the roads involving cyclists in the past couple of weeks, yet he still seems to think it is acceptable to use roads for recreational cycling.

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      January 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      I think plenty of people above managed quite adequately to counter Mr Catlin’s arguments without my need to repeat them.

      I don’t understand conflating the sad deaths of cycle commuters on the roads with an argument against leisure cycling. You might as well suggest that we should stop motorists driving because they might suffer a fatal accident.

      • Mark Catlin Reply

        February 19, 2014 at 10:15 am

        Bike in the shed? Where have you all gone?? I suppose now that the ‘Winter’ Olympics is on you’ve all gone skiing/curling !!

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