The course for the Beijing Olympics cycling road race was announced last week and the world's top cyclists are in for a torrid time. After starting from Tiananmen Square, the route heads through the northern suburbs before reaching the Great Wall. That's when it gets nasty, with the riders covering five punishing circuits of nearby hills. But at least the cyclists won't have to cope with the Beijing traffic. The roads will be cleared of cars, just as they were for the recent China-Africa Forum, when government vehicles were banned for the duration of the conference. For the 2.4 million Beijingers who cycle to work, that's a dream scenario. The reality, though, is more like a nightmare. It's a daily round of dodging incompetent car drivers, footpath-shy pedestrians and of navigating blocked cycle lanes. In Woody Allen's film Annie Hall, the diehard New Yorker famously said that the main attraction of Los Angeles is that you can turn right on a red light. Well, you can do that in Beijing, too, and it's just another of the pernicious advantages that car drivers enjoy over cyclists in the capital. Beijing's drivers think nothing of turning right without looking, which inevitably results in riders screeching to a halt as a car comes within centimetres of crushing grounded toes. With 2.7 million cars on Beijing's roads, a number growing by 1,000 a day, it would be easy for cyclists to give up the struggle. But some of us are fighting back. A survey of Beijing cyclists last month found that 90 per cent felt their rights were being ignored or infringed on. We pay taxes too, was the refrain, so why can't we have car-free cycle lanes? It's not much to ask for, not when bike lanes have shrunk to a mere couple of metres wide as roads are widened for yet more cars. Last week, one commentator described the capital's cyclists as being treated like 'unwanted step-children'. In April, Liang Congjie , a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, put forward a motion calling for 'concrete efforts' to restore proper bike lanes. Even Beijing's municipal government has taken a step in the right direction by lifting the ban on electric bicycles. Some, though, feel more direct action is needed. In late October, a brave foreign woman took a stand. Frustrated by the presence of cars in the cycle lane, she got off her bike and blocked the traffic. One car driver was so incensed that he got out and hurled her bike away. Unfortunately for him, the incident was filmed by a passer-by and swiftly circulated on the internet. The resulting publicity saw the driver forced to make a grovelling apology on Beijing TV. If car drivers won't abide by traffic laws, then maybe public humiliation is the only way forward.