Thursday, February 2, 2012

Save our Cyclists

Thursday, 2nd February 2012:  As of  last night the wires were buzzing with news of the Cycling Initiative in The Times – well here is my paper copy of The Times. The Times has operated a paywall for some time, however this initiative is not hidden behind those links – jump in at Save our cyclists.

Here are some of the links that I have seen already: Cyclists in the City, The cycling Lawyer and Bike Biz with “Save our Cyclists, thunders The Times”.

They have proposed an eight-point manifesto and have requested pledges of support (on the same link)

    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.
    6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.
    7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London.
    8. Every city, even those without an elected mayor, should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.

I personally believe that this is an issue that transcends politics, I also acknowledge that there are many bodies that have been campaigning tirelessly on behalf of cyclists and would-be cyclists.  (The Cambridge Cycling Campaign being one such body – with its 100th edition of their Newsletter.)

I do feel that our challenge is to make cycling attractive to non-cyclists. I know that cycling has gotten safer, I know that it is both practical and fun – but I also have heard inhabitants of the necklace villages around Cambridge say how if only it were safer they would return to their bikes as a form of transport (in formal presentations).  I like that the manifesto focus on improving the safety of the roads for cyclists rather than focus on training and visibility and crash helmets. I believe that cycling is a safe activity made dangerous by the motorised road users and the road infrastructure. We need to focus on the problems and not the symptoms.

I also feel that this goes beyond the cities.


  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistFebruary 2, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    This is a subject close to my heart right now having been knocked off my bike by a car on my way to work on Tuesday (luckily no serious injuries like the poor journalist, just loads of cuts/ bruises). I particularly like points 1 and 2, as well as the idea of a proportion of the HA budget going into cycle infrastructure (designed hopefully by cyclists for a change!)

    I've been having a bit of an online barney on a cycle forum (called cycle chat (cc)) recently about dedicated (traffic free) cycle routes. Many experienced, confident cyclists on CC are dead against them (strangely enough, all middle aged males who've cycled for years and know how to deal with heavy traffic)! But I can't see how we encourage more new cyclists, who may not feel safe on busy roads initially, without more of them. Thus surely more drivers would also become cyclists, helping more mutual understanding on our roads.

    The cynical side of me suggests the Times is merely chasing a few metropolitan Grauniad readers with this campaign, and to be honest, this is the UK so we all know the proposals will never happen. But at least it may spark a debate I guess.

  2. How awful, I am glad to hear you weren't seriously hurt. Although loads of cuts and bruises doesn't sound like you got off lightly. Whilst cycling is really not that dangerous cyclists do generally come of worse in any "coming together".

    I used to be one of those cyclists who didn't care for cycle routes, partly because the roads should be safe for all users and partly because the level of cycling infrastructure provided was so poor. I now prefer dedicated cycle paths even with their imperfections and really do believe that without more cycling facilities it will be difficult to persuade more people to cycle. Which is a shame because it is just so much more invigorating and fun to cycle.

    I have just been cycling around this evening and despite the freezing cold I really enjoyed it.

    It will be interesting to see whether The Times initiative has any effect, but it all helps. My cynical view is that it will get mired in politics.