Edinburgh, keep the joggers in the parks and the cyclists on the roads - Liam Rudden
WHEN I was a kid growing up in Leith, getting a bicycle was a big deal, almost a coming of age thing, even if that age tended to be around six or seven.
A bike was something families saved up for or had passed down from an older cousin or, in the worst case scenario, would be bought on the never-never, with extortionate interest rates that lined the pockets of shop owners that prayed on the working class poor - every city had one.
With that first bike came the challenge of learning not to fall off. The frustrating period when, having just lost your stabilisers, you would wobble a few feet before birling out of control. All this was done on the pavement, of course, often with the steady hand of the Old Man gripping the saddle to keep the bike on the correct trajectory.
Finally, with the skill to steer the thing honed, trips further afield were encouraged, a ride round the local park perhaps, another safe environment where you were unlikely to come a cropper. Eventually when you were old enough and the Highway Code had been drummed into your head, you were allowed to take to the road... and there you stayed.
You didn’t return to the pavement as an adult, although occasionally you might see an elderly eccentric pootering along at a leisurely pace. Somewhere along the way that all changed and now a growing number of cyclists (some, not all) seem to think they have as much, if not more, right to be on a pavement than pedestrians.
It’ s a bug bear of mine at the best of times, but right now, during lockdown when you’re restricted to just one hour of freedom a day, it drives me mad.
Between pavement cyclists and joggers, I don’t know which is worse - at a time when there are so few vehicles on the road there really is no real excuse for either to be on the pavement.
There is a serious point to all this, an unpublished report by a Belgian-Dutch research team gained much currency recently when it advised runners and cyclists to take extra care while passing others.
Apparently ‘respiratory droplets that could potentially contain the novel coronavirus might spread further than the 6ft buffer recommended by public health officials.’
While the report is yet to be peer reviewed, common sense dictates that the basic premise holds some validity. At a time when social distancing is making us all a little bit neurotic about our interactions in public, a jogger running up your back or a bike whizzing past is the last thing you need.
Going for a walk these days already feels like you are taking part in some absurd piece of choreography in which you must deftly execute a shuffle to the right or a slide to the left to achieve maximum distance from any approaching threat. The one thing you can’t avoid is the sweaty slipstream left by the pavement runner or cyclist... time to stick to the road or park folks.
Stay safe all.
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