Cabbie: "Oi! That's a one-way street. Don't you cyclists know the law?"
Cyclist: "I think you'll find this street is a contraflow cycling system. I'm taking part in a pilot scheme."
Cabbie: "My apologies. I stand corrected."
While you're unlikely to hear that exact conversation anytime soon – particularly without any swearing – there is a potentially significant change coming in the law that considers cyclists.
The government announced this morning that it has accepted a proposal by Kensington and Chelsea in London to trial a scheme in which riders will be allowed to cycle the "wrong" way down selected one way streets.
Now, plenty of streets which are one way for motor traffic already have something similar in place, with a small, kerbed-off lane allowing just bikes to enter in the opposite direction.
What is significant in the pilot scheme is all that will be required is a plate saying "except cyclists" being bolted onto the existing no entry sign.
The government wants "to make it easier for councils to encourage people to choose greener transport options", according to the transport minister, Sadiq Khan. He added:
The pilot contra-flow cycling system will help to reduce journey times for cyclists while allowing them to travel safely and legally on the most convenient routes. If this pilot is successful then councils across the country could be offered the opportunity to use similar measures on their roads.
What strikes me as significant here is that it's a legal acknowledgement of something which already happens widely. A lot of urban cyclists, conscious of the fact that they are highly unlikely to impede traffic in the process, nip the wrong way up a one-way street as a way of taking a short cut, or perhaps missing out a dangerous section of road. If you're careful – most notably keeping an eye out for pedestrians or drivers coming from side roads who won't be looking in your direction – there's generally a minimal risk.
So could this be the start of a wider acceptance that cyclists are essentially different to motorised traffic on the roads, and should thus be treated as such? There has already been talk of a trial – again in London – of allowing cyclists turning left to treat red lights as, in effect, a give way sign.
It's a tough one. I'm wholly in favour of law changes which reflect the inherent vulnerability of cyclists as against cars, buses and motorbikes and let us use our common sense to stay safe.
Unfortunately, not all cyclists use common sense and some end up intimidating the one group of road users who are more vulnerable still: pedestrians.
I personally think it's up to us cyclists to show that if we get given extra rights, we use them responsibly. Any ideas how we can do this?