OVER recent weeks I’ve found myself spending far more time driving round the streets of Warrington during the day than I have in the recent past, as regular readers will know.

And my journeys have not been without incident. Mainly, my ‘issues’ have come from pedestrians with a death wish stepping out in front of me without looking.

But recently I have been confronted by another phenomenon – the militant cyclist.

Take last Tuesday, for example. I was in a line of traffic on one of the town’s main roads. We were all obeying the 30 miles an hour speed limit and being very careful as we overtook what I would now describe as a militant cyclist. You know the ones I mean, all the gear but no idea. The type of cyclist who thinks the road belongs to him (yes it was a him) and no one else.

We all moved to pass a parked car but as the cyclist reached it, he pulled into the path of the car in front of me, almost as far as the white lines in the middle of the road. He was lucky the driver in front was paying attention and managed to avoid hitting the cyclist.

Now I witnessed the drama unfold and have no doubt at all that had there been an accident, blame would have rested fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the cyclist. And I would have been prepared to give that as evidence in court.

What I then expected to see was a little contrition from the reckless rider. Perhaps an apologetic wave or a thumbs-up in thanks for not being crushed.

But no, what we got instead was a display of anger, more bike rage than apology. There were unmistakeable hand gestures – a lot of them and a quite varied selection – coupled with the kind of ‘industrial’ language that would have made a docker blush.

Not content with this, the cyclist speeded up and started chasing the car which had slowed down at a junction to continue his tirade.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen behaviour like this. I used to work in Manchester and the rush hour drive home was an absolute nightmare, not just because of the volume of traffic but because of the cyclists who somehow thought the Highway Code didn’t apply to them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the benefits of cycling both from a personal health and wellbeing point of view and from an environmental standpoint.

I long held it to be true that the quickest way most mornings for me to get to work would have been on a bike but it was something I never tried quite simply because Warrington, like most towns, does not have the infrastructure to safely accommodate cars, lorries, buses and cyclists.

What is needed are cycling routes that are completely separate from motor vehicles but in these times of austerity, what council can afford them?

Instead, we get those farcical white lines painted at the side of the road that are supposed to be cycle lanes.

And it’s not just me who thinks they are farcical. A recent news report says the government has wasted hundreds of millions of pounds painting pointless white lines on busy roads and calling them cycle lanes, according to Britain’s cycling and walking commissioners.

In a letter to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, the commissioners – including the Olympic champions Chris Boardman (Greater Manchester), Dame Sarah Storey (Sheffield City region) and Will Norman (London) – say painted cycle lanes are a ‘gesture’ and do nothing to make people feel safer on a bike. Recent studies have shown they can actually make people less safe, they argue.

So where do we go from here? Perhaps a little more common courtesy and a few less hand gestures would help. Or maybe we start spending some real money on building safer cycling and walking lanes.