Monday 6 February 2012

British Cycling Road Safety Report - Ahead of The Times?

With the current interest in campaigns for cycling safety, it is well worth drawing attention to the recent British Cycling Road Safety Report.  This has the following sensible 6 key points under a theme of mutual respect:
- Driving Test
- Self-protection (this is defensive riding, NOT helmets or sticking to cycle tracks!)
- HGVs
- Law Enforcement
- Road Layout
- Speed Limits
It is a short but impressive document resulting from a survey of its members and it reflects the very good sense that British Cycling sports men and women (past and present) have been saying in The Times in the last few days..

Equally the See Me Save Me campaign is now launched with a specific goal, that is bound to save lives, of requiring large vehicles to be equipped with technology that reduces their danger to others.

I have concerns about the way in which The Times campaign may head.  These concerns have not been allayed by seeing yesterday's contribution in The Sunday Times from an associate editor that argues (apparently seriously) that bicycles should be banned from main roads.  Although this kind of talk is obviously not going to get anywhere, it does much to undermine the mutual respect that British Cycling are striving for.  The Times has been notably quiet about questions of law enforcement and I cannot quite get over what Freewheeler has in the past, not entirely without justification, described as cyclophobia.

Incidentally, discard The Times Guide to Safe Cycling, if you got it last Saturday, and replaced it with British Cycling's Effective Traffic Riding


  1. From Dr. Robert Davis.
    Despite an excellent post yeserday, and agreeing with you about The Times ' campaign (particulalrly the dreadful supplement yesterday), I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you about BC Martin...Mutuality is fine if that's what it is going to be - what it actuly means that motorists wil still be endangering cyclists because there is no real prospect of their part of the agreement actually happening. it isn't just the minority of crazies that threaten us, i'm afarid it's the ordinary motorist who is the main problem.
    Anyway, do take a look at


  2. I agree that the 'evens, stevens' approach is totally inappropriate where one is 80kg of man and machine and the other is a tonne or more of fast moving metal. Cyclists should not need to 'earn respect'. If the tired old red light jumping arguments are brought into this, that is wrong. However the only part of the 6 points elaborating on 'mutual respect' (or indeed governing the actions of the cyclist rather than the driver, contrast The Times) is as follows:
    "Self-protection – Cyclists can protect
    themselves, and gain the respect of
    motorists, by maintaining good awareness
    and observation, as well as maintaining the
    correct road position and cycling away from
    the kerb in order to be as visible as possible"
    Of course a whole lot of education of some drivers will be required before they respect cyclists for cycling away from the kerb!
    I am looking for campaigns that I can support and those of 'SeeMe,SaveMe' and British Cycling strike me as the best of those recently launched.

  3. It was something I briefly talked about in my previous blog post. This idea of taking cyclists off the road, particularly during rush hour, was written about by Andrew Grimes of the Manchester Times 3rd February. What disapointed me most about this article, was not only his cyclophobic opinion, but his dated argument that cars don't belong on the road. This and the dreaded fealing this is the kind of oposition we as cyclists must all face.

    Sometimes people forget we also drive cars and ride as an alternative. If you took all the commmuting cyclists off the road you don't get rid of the people, just the bikes, if they then drive instead you would see more delays on the streets at rush hour!

    Sensors on lorries would prevent many accidents not just those to cyclists. Certainly the way forward.

  4. Martin, I hugely respect your work on law enforcement stuff. I also share your fears about where The Times' campaign might go.
    There's a certain irony that The Times is now calling for better cycle safety just over four years after it published a key piece of Cyclophobia, Matthew Parris' column calling for cyclists' decapitation.
    Like Freewheeler, I've been trying to puzzle this out in my blog. The most relevant entry, from just before The Times' campaign launched, is here:
    The blog as a whole is here:

  5. I missed the Times supplement mentioned above. However, the British Cycling guide appears to be a typical piece of 'vehicular cycling' strategy. All very well if you are a confident (and fit) cyclist like us lot, but I suspect the "non-cyclist but would like to be" will look at this and think we are insane.

  6. I understand those concerns. However there is only one reason why our children and grandparents are uncomfortable with riding in the road and that is the presence and behaviour of motorised traffic. Poor motorist reaction to taking the lane (however slowly) is the result of ignorance and aggression (neither of which has been addressed in any meaningful manner to date).
    Junctions are the most dangerous places for our children and grandparents (as they are for us) and cycle tracks alongside roads have more junctions increasing the dangers.
    Junctions are designed out for the convenience of motorists (think motorways) but not for the safety of cyclists.
    Something suitably radical would be the restriction of arterial roads with limited junctions by strategically placed bollards to block through motor traffic.
    Alternatives, at least on current form, are glass strewn tracks full of give way signs, pedestrians and debris and van drivers screaming at those of us on the road to 'get on the bike track'.
    Dutch style provision is never going to extend to all areas where cyclists need or wish to travel. We have to be very vigilant that our right to the road is not eroded. On the contrary it is a right that any safety campaign ought to highlight.