Look At It This Way - August 7, 2015

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I ride a bike – very occasionally. It’s a Mary Poppins-like bike with a basket at the front and only three gears and a rubbishy braking system which snags the wheels every few miles, meaning I have to dismount, adjust the brake blocks, then pop back on.

I’m going to get some better brakes put on so I only have to adjust the blocks every six months or so, rather than every six miles.

Pity I can’t sneak some extra gears on, too.

Devonshire Road hill is my equivalent of the 72 steps to the museum in the Rocky movies. Hedgehogs crossing Devonshire Road have been known to go faster than me. Mobility scooters on the pavement alongside almost certainly do. And runners just breeze past. I keep my distance. It’s safer for them – and me.

I never ride on the pavement. If road conditions rattle me, or I find myself on the verge of panic after a close encounter with a myopic motorist, I dismount and wheel my bike until confident enough to get back on. Wheel it, note, not ride it.

If that sounds wimpy I’m not alone. I suspect it’s fear of traffic rather than badly designed roads which drive many cyclists to the pavement.

By default, it’s still against the law unless defined a shared area by local council policy. But it simply wouldn’t enter my mind to ride on the pavement.

Kids play on the pavement. My mum, who’s elderly and not good on her pins any more, tries to walk along it. Add prams and pushchairs and little kids on scooters and other people in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters and you’re courting disaster. Cyclists should stay on the road or assigned cycle paths. And if you’re not confident or competent enough, get some cycle safety lessons under your belt, because the old proficiency test we took as kids back in the 70s or 80s won’t prepare you for today’s roads – or bikes.

When I first read of little Lucie Wilding, from Layton, being ploughed into by a cycle and dragged about 10ft having got caught in the pedals, I assumed it had happened on the road.

Not a pavement.

To be dragged 10ft indicates speed and momentum and a complete and utter disregard for the predominantly residential nature of the neighbourhood – and the fact there’s a perfectly good road alongside. If he hadn’t been riding on the pavement she wouldn’t have been hurt. The 24-year-old cyclist had the temerity to initially deny cycling dangerously.

Those who watched the family’s CCTV footage of the incident can see he is not only riding fast, but close to the gates of properties. Certainly close enough to catch a three-year-old child who suffered scrapes, bumps, cuts and bruises, along with emotional trauma.

He’ll have had his share of emotional trauma, too. I’ve chosen not to name him today for that reason.

One national newspaper report which featured the video racked up 13k shares on social media under the heading ‘the most callous cyclist in Britain’.

In the event, he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a total of £829 in fines and costs. He should count himself very lucky. I’d have flogged his bike at the next police auction or ordered him to get some trainer wheels – and new glasses.

I’d certainly suggest he signs up for the very next Bikeability course offered by Blackpool Council’s Travel Blackpool team.

I’m hoping to join one myself. I don’t want to learn the hard way – or inflict that lesson upon others. I wonder if I’ll bump into him there…?

Music my first love...but really the 1970s

I’ve rather enjoyed flaunting a Cuffe & Taylor pass to Lytham Festival this week. I’d like to say it’s been like the old days when I used to review shows – but Michael Buble was about as cool as it got for me.

Well, since the very first concert I attended. And unless you count a Pinky and Perky concert, that was when The Beatles came to Blackpool in 1965 – as revisited in The Gazette recently.

Nothing defines your formative years like music. Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ELO, Kraftwerk, Bowie, T Rex, Dylan, Tom Waits, even Devo were my loves – after a sappy dalliance via a Jackie mag poster with David Cassidy.

But this week has finally exorcised my last ‘proper concert’ – Engelbert Humperdinck. He of the long sideburns, Last Waltz and ludicrous name.

My mum liked him.

So I volunteered to do the review. It was up there with reviewing Daniel O’Donnell – for my nan.

I’d rather sit through three back-to-back Doddy shows than endure either again.

To add insult to injury I was filmed in the house seats for a fan video.

Fan? My notebook wasn’t big enough to hide me from prying cameras. Today I’ve got some street cred back. I’ve seen Rae Morris (superb), Tenors of Rock and 
Faithless. McBusted, Elaine Page and Marti Pellow to come.

I’m skipping the 80s vs. 90s concert tonight.

I was a child of the 70s. No contest.