31 July 2012

What a jerk (Deaf School)

A brilliant initiative from Samsung (why Samsung?) to get people to run between home and office in London, called Homerun, which validates what I have been doing for many years. It works, I suppose, on the well-known principle that you're more likely to run if you've got company, especially if you are in any way nervous about being alone on the streets. I don't think there's much to worry about in central London, where there are usually enough law-abiding citizens about to deter the bad ones, but once you head off into the suburbs there are some mean streets about. And even Hyde Park is a scary place after dark.

One thing runners can to do avoid trouble is to keep music and running carefully segregated. If you plug up your ears and blast music - whatever music it is, I'm not discriminating here - into them, you give the bad guys a better chance to take you by surprise, and cyclists a higher chance of running you down. Of course not all cyclists ride like maniacs, but pedestrians need to give even the most careful cyclists a sporting chance of not making physical contact. Yesterday evening, on the designated cycle track that brings me home, I passed a young woman running with earphones in place who failed to hear (or certainly gave no indication of having heard) my bell despite my ringing it constantly as I approached and passed her. I stopped and pointed out to her that if she made it impossible to hear cycles' bells she could easily be killed. She pulled out the earphones to hear me, and I was surprised at the volume at which the music was playing, but then she put them back and carried on, so my advice was clearly unwelcome. I'll fit the horn on my bike, I think, because there are too many pedestrians suffering from self-inflicted temporary deafness. I don't need them to get off the track, just to make clear that they know I'm there, and to give me enough space to get past.

There are also too many dog-walkers who don't think it necessary to control their animals. Most stand aside, often moving right off the track, which is usually more than is needed, and I ring my bell, slow down, and freewheel past them, thanking them as I go: but a minority see no need to make any concessions to the presence of cyclists on a piece of tarmac dedicated to them. I still ring my bell, slow down and freewheel gently past, but replace the thanks with an observation about the usefulness of a leash, especially when their dog meanders into my path (which often prompts the owner to break into an inane grin). I wonder what they do when they walk their dogs beside a road?

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