It seems like every week someone is calling for the British Government to do something about our cycling infrastructure and every week these calls fall on deaf ears.
The most recent one, by The Times, seems to be reaching further than most in the mainstream media and they have released an 8 point manifesto which seems nice but as with most things, I don’t wholly agree.
1. Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.
We all know how dangerous lorries are and any extra measures to increase the safety and awareness of cyclists sharing the road with a lorry can only be a good thing but at the same time a lot of cyclists are to blame when they’re involved in accidents. I am a cyclist, I know that a lorry can crush me like an ant and I know that the driver of a lorry may not see me from his driving position so when I am on the same road as a lorry I may pull over and wait for it to pass; I live another day and the driver goes about his business. Maybe roads that are frequently used by us both should have signs informing cyclists of the lorry drivers blind spots etc?
2. The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side.
If I feel that a junction is particularly dangerous I will either use the pavement and crossing (which is legal in such a case, I think), take the lane (not always possible or advisable) or just take my life in my hands and risk it (most of the time). I really like the priority traffic lights idea, it seems to work for buses and would certainly make us feel safer.
3. A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety.
Things like this can be very easily misunderstood by Joe Bloggs putting them off cycling, and easily skewed by the press to make cycling seem like a very dangerous thing to do. Cycling is incredibly safe, the chances of us actually being injured or killed whilst cycling is miniscule. I’m pretty sure all this data is already widely available so is the audit really necessary?
4. Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.
A nice idea but our tight-ass government isn’t going to cough up £100 million for anything any time soon. I’m all for cycle routes but I think that education of both cyclists and drivers is equally as important. Painting the side of a road red and calling it a cycle lane is all good until it’s full of parked cars resulting in us swerving in and out of them pissing off drivers and making them angry enough to run us down.
5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
I’m down with this one, I don’t feel like I need training because i’m not a total retardo but some people can’t cycle for toffee and I think we all agree that a lot of drivers are incredibly useless! I don’t drive and have never had lessons but I’d like to think that both driving lessons and tests have a lot of cyclist safety content. I think a fair amount of time should be spent highlighting the vulnerability of cyclists on the road with regards to recommended passing space etc.
6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
Nobody needs to speed in residential areas but slapping up some 20mph signs won’t make the slightest bit of difference and I’d more than likely be going faster than that on my bike.
7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
So who is actually paying for these things? The government with their 100 million or Argos with their adverts for the Challenge fixie bike? I do love the idea of the Boris Bikes though so maybe the sponsoring thing works, I don’t know exactly what the deal is.
8. Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.
Swansea has a cycling dude, I don’t think he does anything at all. I’m sure your city already has one that does nothing too. Actually, they do do something, this.
I think that our cities are super crowded and as long as motor vehicles and bicycles occupy the same space accidents can, and will, happen. The one thing that will make the biggest difference is education of both drivers and cyclists on how to use the road and more importantly how to SHARE the road; sometimes it’s their fault, sometimes it’s our fault and more often than we’re probably both to blame.
I also think the name ‘Cities Fit For Cycling’ is terrible, what about ‘Cyclists Fit For Cities’ instead? As always with these things we’re made out to be the victims and never the culprits by the cycling advocacy groups. It works both ways.
So, what do you folks think about this thing and the many hundreds of similar ideas that came before it and will come after it? What do you think will make the roads a safer place?