We have now come to the end of a terrific summer of cycling (well almost, I hope to catch some of the Tour of Britain this Sunday). The day of Bradley Wiggins's triumph in the Olympic Time Trial at Hampton Court was deeply marred by the death of Dan Harris outside the Olympic Park. It was also the day I attended the sentencing of Joao Lopes at Isleworth Crown Court. Wiggins is rightly a sporting super-hero so I will say no more than that his comments at a press conference that evening on cyclists' safety headed in a seriously wrong direction.
It is though important that the momentum of this exceptional summer is sustained to encourage cycling not only (or even principally) as a sport but as an everyday activity that is beneficial on so many levels. This requires cycling to be not only objectively safe but subjectively perceived to be safe by the masses, who hear about far too many cyclist deaths and listen to Bradley Wiggins and Jon Snow refer to cycling as 'dangerous'.
Fortunately the balance has been redressed by another sporting hero, Chris Boardman, who was on the radio last week talking sense about cycling, the risks and how we should be focusing upon improving the cycling environment. I liked his analogy that if there is gun-fire on the streets do you deal with it by issuing body armour (otherwise you can hardly complain can you if you have not done everything to protect yourself?) or do you deal with the problem at source?
I have had numerous problems with my dealings with the criminal justice system as regular readers will recall. I am not alone, many others in far more serious cases have been dismayed at the frequent failure in the criminal justice system to play the part that it should in ensuring a safer cycling environment. It is essential that those who kill, maim, injure, endanger or threaten cyclists are brought to account by our criminal justice system.
I am therefore writing to my MP, in response to British Cycling's call, asking him to support Julian Huppert's Early Day Motion. I invite you to do the same. Sad to say but without such pressure calls, even from British Cycling, fall on deaf ears whatever the Government's publicly professed sentiments.
Thursday, 13 September 2012
I am writing to my MP. Please write to yours.
Posted by Martin Porter at 10:48
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thank you for highlighting this - I too have written to my M.P. in this regard.ReplyDelete
I've sent one to Stephen Williams.ReplyDelete
It is heartening to see you mention the importance of subjective safety here. However, I feel that the shortcomings of the justice system and the media attention given when cyclists die due to the unfit-for-purpose nature of our current road system are not the biggest issues which prevent cycling from being perceived as subjectively safe. Even if cyclists do get justice in the event of collisions and altercations, the fact that these things are happening with the frequency they are will mean cycling continues to be subjectively safe.ReplyDelete
Better to design the conflict out of our roads as has been shown in The Netherlands. Most people don't want to share space on a bike with motor traffic, even when completely inappropriate, and they shouldn't have to do so either.
I suspect, Dr C, you'll get fairly short shrift from Martin - a determined vehicular cyclist - on the idea that one can "design the conflict out of our roads". I tend to agree with him, as I explained here (http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/03/in-which-our-hero-picks-up-cycling.html). There are a fair number of segregated routes by roads in New York, where I now live. But they are very dangerous because motorists turn across them without looking for cyclists. There are good places for segregated lanes - I ride along the Hudson River Greenway in New York every morning and it's far better than battling up a Manhattan Avenue. But there are plenty of situations where the best solution would be for motorists to start behaving better around cyclists.Delete
@Invisible. Are your problems because of the segregated lanes or poor junction design or inconsiderate motorcyclists? I would suggest it's a combination.Delete
In order to see that it's perfectly possible to have segregated cycle paths with safe junctions, and that doing so will allow cycling to become accessible to everyone of all ages, and therefore cause numbers of cyclists to increase wildly we need look no further than the Netherlands where segregation is the norm on roads above 30kph. Why wouldn't we all want what they have?
Or are you suggesting Martin is denying the existence of Holland? Perhaps he can speak for himself on the subject?
We have some segregated cycle paths in the UK. The problem is not that they exist, it's that they are usually rubbish - poorly thought out, indirect and badly maintained. As a result many people are against all segregation. But the good ones, as you admit yourself, are a pleasure to ride on.
I'm not sure I've seen any actual good cycle paths in the UK. Almost all of them suffer from either poor start and finish design, poor visibility at the frequent crossing points, appalling surface and maintenance, or usually at least two of these. There only current utility is to provide an excuse for nutters in cars to scream at me 'because you should be on the --ing cycle path'.Delete
I know good segregated paths are possible - they exist in many Continental Europena countries - but until the money is spent on them, teaching drivers to behave better, and enforcing more rigorous laws more rigorously seem desirable.
It's not really any comfort, I know, but the law enforcement situation in New York, where I'm now living, makes London look like a cyclist-loving paradise. The New York Police Department only pretends to investigate motorist-on-cyclist collisions if it looks as if the cyclist will die. Even then, there are essentially never prosecutions. There's a relevant piece here: http://transportationnation.org/2012/04/08/killed-while-cycling-why-so-few-fatal-bike-crashes-lead-to-arrest-in-nyc/ . At the same time, the NYPD enthusiastically hands out traffic violation notices to cyclists who commit even minor violations, including some essentially imaginary offences such as riding a bike not in the bike lane. I have very little idea how I'd even begin to seek redress if someone knocked me off in New York.
"If there is gun fire on the streets do you deal with it by issuing body armour?"ReplyDelete
Good point someone should mention that to the troops in Afghanistan, the MoD could save a fortune before sending them out. By all means campaign for safer roads for cyclists and other road users but if helmets offer some protection, even a little, doesn't it make sense to wear one?
(No I am not in favour of making the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory)
'some protection, if even a little'? But where does that end? Do you don a helmet when you cross a street, get into a car or walk down a flight of stairs?Delete
No you make an informed, educated decision and act accordingly. I wear a cycle helmet (most of the time) because on balance I think wearing one offers some protection and I work on the principle that some protection is better than no protection.Delete
I don't wear a helmet to cross the street or walk down the stairs not because it offers no protection (which it would) but because the amount of protection it offers is out weighed by the inconvenience of wearing a helmet to do so.
Why do people who argue against the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets (which I am not in favour of) seek to polarise the debate when discussing the pros and cons of helmet use by resorting to a reductio absurdum argument?
Don't wear a helmet if you don't want to but don't resort to specious arguments to support your position. (Sorry that sounded a little ill tempered I am not having a go at you personally Martin just the rather over zealous anti helmet lobby within the cycling fraternity)
We will have to agree to differ. I see no problem in advancing comparable circumstances so as to obtain a concession that your principle bows to convenience and other factors. I know of many zealous pro-helmet figures who argue for compulsion or contributory negligence (not you, I accept) but very few, if any, 'anti-helmet' zealots who would ban them. I think your 'anti-helmet lobby' are in favour of personal choice - I certainly am.Delete
Interesting how this post about supporting a very sensible EDM reverts to yet anothe helmet debate.
At the risk of derailing this post still further (feel free to talk amongst yourselves BTW everyone else). What principle is it of mine that is bowing to convenience? I have already said the wearing of helmets should be a matter of personal choice but based on an accurate analysis of the facts. Cycle helmets do offer a degree of protection which is not outweighed by the inconvenience of doing so. Their use therefore should be encouraged but not made compulsory.Delete
I notice that you yourself Martin wear a cycle helmet when competing in races or on a sportive. This is I expect a requirement of entering but would you go "topless" if you had the option? Forgive me I could argue semantics until the cows come home, I should have been a lawyer :)
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