Oxford Street was crammed yesterday. There were bunches of marvellously enthusiastic shoppers, as well as café, restaurant and pub visitors, everywhere. Cycling back along the Soho-Marylebone section, I saw a cyclist collide with a pedestrian and knock her to the ground. Lots of people came to their assistance. Both were shaken of course, but not injured. It was what we call a 'minor' incident.
Whatever we deem to be the 'cause' of such incidents: (1) 'she stepped right in front of me'; (2) 'the cyclist was going too fast', it seems to me there is a third factor. The pedestrian was confused. She wasn't English. She was a visitor. In the country where she was born; in the countries she's visited before she came to England, people drive (and cycle) on the right.
Our system of driving or cycling on the left confuses everyone except ourselves. I wonder what that woman will think when she goes back to Italy: I hope it won't be that she crosses London off her itinerary. I hope she won't tell her friends how confusing the traffic is for everyone except the natives.
In the summer especially, but all year round in London, we just have to expect the unexpected on our roads, forget speed for safety, think of the people for whom driving on the right is second nature.