So What Do We Do Now?

A wonderfully apt sign in Blackheath, Surrey

WARNING: CONTAINS STRANGE SEXY TALK (Strange in that it came from an Englishman)

Had the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club started 25 years ago, it would have been quite a quiet, pleasing and delightfully tatty newsletter with articles about such exotic things as that new Mountain Bike fad or trying to understand Moultons or maybe a recommended cycle tour to Glastonbury.

Nowadays, the casual reader might be forgiven for thinking that cycling is facing the end of its very existence. Thanks to technological advancement of the Internet, every day seems to bring a new horror story requiring  journalists and blog writers to constantly downgrade their forecasts and dispositions from ‘bad’ to ‘’catastrophic’.

Before we begin today’s sermon, it needs reiterating that the end of the World is not nigh for cycling and never will be. Like sex, cycling is too fun, it gets you hot and sweaty (if you like it fast), it makes you more alive and sexier the more you do it, it gets you to where you want to go and, being cheap, it is a filthy, slutty transport mode that will never be disciplined (which is why a few repressed British citizens don’t like the idea of it). Phew!….erm….forgive me! All that smutty talk aside, let’s look at the Britain we find ourselves in;

 

CTC

From their website

CTC Today

Today CTC has around 60,000 members encompassing all ages and types of cyclists with elected representation at national and local level backed by a professional staff.

CTC provides a wide range of activities and services designed to enhance the riding opportunities for existing cyclists and make it easier for new entrants to take up cycling. These include CTC Cyclists Helpline for advice on all cycling matters, local groups with a huge range of rides, local and national events. Our services have been refined by thousands of cyclists to make sure they are exactly what you need to get enjoyment and security whether you ride 100 miles or 100 yards. In particular third party insurance and legal aid are free to all members. CTC also offers a wide range of insurance and public liability products tailored to the needs of cyclists, employers, clubs and associations, cycle hire centres etc. If you are not out on your bike, the members’ magazine, Cycle, is free six times a year and sets your imagination free to plan your next ride. Search the site for lots more

CTC has campaigned for cyclists’ rights throughout its existence. Major successes include the development of the National Cycling Strategy and representing the cyclists’ voice in the countryside, protecting the right to ride on roads, paths, trails and towpaths. The CTC’s Right to Ride Network has over 500 accredited local representatives throughout the UK and Ireland working for all cyclists.

In 1936 CTC created a first cycling proficiency scheme in response to increasing cyclists’ casualties at the time. This was adopted as a national programme run by RoSPA in 1948 and has been in use almost ever since. Today CTC is at the forefront of a next generation of cycle training initiatives enabling people to cope with the conditions of today.

What we are aiming for

CTC is committed to a vibrant and broad base that encompasses all sectors including offroad and adventurous cycling, sport and leisure. CTC believes that all cyclists must defend all elements of the existing road and trail network as safe and comfortable places to ride, so the diversity of cycling can be maintained. We use the phrase “Making cycling enjoyable, safe and welcoming for all” to summarise our aspirations.

Being a member and ex-employee, I’ll always have great affection for CTC. However, it’s that last paragraph that I have issues with. It seems to completely ignore the soaring rates of car use that have occurred over the last few decades. You can train people all you like, but if a road looks dangerous, it counts for nothing. I have a few hair-raising moments on my commute every week and I’ve raced Mountain Bikes at World Cup level and have thousands of leisurely miles under my tyres, just as you probably have, dear reader.

CTC is a membership organization made up of very experienced cyclists that haven’t a clue how to project themselves to the general public. They have voluntary regional representatives (Right to Ride reps) who diligently turn up to every local cycle meeting and Council Forum, correctly berating councils for trying to shovel cyclists off the roads onto poorly designed infrastructure but instead pushing for vehicular cycling provision that you know no novice in their right mind is going to use so back to square one.

Sustrans

From their website

Sustrans makes smarter travel choices possible, desirable and inevitable. We’re a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. We work with families, communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people are able to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, with better places and spaces to move through and live in.

It’s time we all began making smarter travel choices. Make your move and support Sustrans today.

We’re a catalyst – we make smarter travel choices possible.

We campaign – we make smarter travel choices desirable.

We influence – we make smarter travel choices inevitable.

All stirring stuff until you realise that their solutions often bring pedestrians and cyclists into direct conflict with no space ceded by the motor car. When their paths work, they are very, very good. However, more often then not, they don’t and are in fact pavements. This creates a further problem because when a cycle route inevitably peters out on a pavement doesn’t mean that a novice cyclist is then going to rejoin the road. They will simply continue to use any pavement, whether the council has painted a bicycle symbol on it or not there by creating further conflict.

British Cycling

From their website

British Cycling is the National Governing Body for cycling in Great Britain whose aim is to inspire participation in cycling as a sport, recreation and sustainable transport through achieving worldwide success. British Cycling manages all elite aspects of the sport including events and performances at GB level and governs the development of cycle sport in England. It also represents Great Britain at UCI, the World Governing Body for Cycling, which oversees the sport at an international level.

British Cycling also provides essential services to the Home Country Governing Bodies in Scotland and Wales, the Scottish Cycling Union (SCU) and the Welsh Cycling Union (WCU) who are involved in the promotion and development of cycling at all levels including the focus on the Commonwealth Games. British Cycling provides essential services to these governing bodies including the administration of membership, licences and insurance as well as providing strategic guidance and support on all aspects of cycling.

British Cycling is entering an unprecedented period of expansion in the run up to London 2012 through increased funding from UK Sport, Sport England and commercial partnerships and will drive a real and tangible legacy for cycling beyond 2012. The legacy has to be one of an increased volunteer workforce and a large British Cycling membership base. Full details of British Cycling’s Whole Sport Plan 2009-2013 will be announced over the coming months.

British Cycling has achieved much in cycle sport and has much to be proud of. However, although they mention sustainable transport, they are to everyday cycling what the X-Factor is to tasteful discretion.

It would be easy to paint a depressing picture of where to go from here, now that Cycling England is to be disbanded in March 2011. But Cycling England was always on shaky foundations being a Quango that could be held at arms length by ministers. I also acknowledge that I’ve glossed over a lot of good works achieved by organisations such as CTC and Sustrans. However, what can’t be denied is the relentlessly low modal share that cycling has had for decades. The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to tentatively put forward the following ideas;

A Non-Vehicular Union with organisations such as CTC, Sustrans, Living Streets and Disability Groups given representation. There should also be representation from the cycle industry, health professionals and architects with any interest in streetscape design and public transport interchanges. There needs to be firm partnerships struck with the Fietsberaad and other European partners. There has to be better infrastructure guidelines set with less conflict between non-vehicular modes of transport. There must be a push for lower speed limits in towns and cities with reallocation of road space where necessary. We shouldn’t be creating crap facilities for cyclists anymore. We should be creating decent facilities for people that don’t know they’re cyclists or pedestrians yet.

As I’ve written before, the public won’t necessarily support an exclusively cycling campaign. But they will support something that benefits them as pedestrians, potential cyclists and even motorists.  

Above all there needs to be a relentless education of ministers and, in the spirit of Big Society, decent well honed campaigns with volunteers including handsome cycling bloggers standing up and being counted.

These are early rough thoughts obviously and more will be added.  But anything that gets a debate going is better than doing nothing. Which worryingly is what seems to be happening. Whatever happens next is either going to be fascinating or infuriating.

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “So What Do We Do Now?”

  1. You need to get parents, particularly mothers, on board. I seem to recall that it was Dutch mothers who, sick of increasing child deaths on the roads, campaigned to get safe cycle provision (while in the UK we just armoured ourselves in ever bigger cars). The 20s plenty people are probably the best bet for that. As a seventies child myself, I’m sure most of my contemporaries with school-age children would love to give them the freedom that we enjoyed but can’t risk it. Some mix of seventies nostalgia and righteous anger at how they’re trapped in the school run might do it…

  2. Excuse me taking what each of the organisations say on their websites with a pinch of salt. Besides that, I second what you say.
    Now, who is going to do it? Will CTC, Sustrans, CTC, etc. see a Non Vehicular Union as a threat to their funding, or as a help. I do wonder if these organisations don’t exist to give ‘activists’ something to direct their moans through and their ‘professional’ staff a wage.

  3. I’m certainly a fan of the idea. My fear is the the existing organisations will see this as a threat, and in fact they may be largely opposed to the goals themselves.

    It’s interesting seeing this topic come up so frequently recently. I hope something comes from it and am ready to assist.

  4. Excellent stuff, Jim, and you’ve certainly got my vote. Hopefully there are plenty of cyclists out there who would want such an organisation to exist and to provide proper infrastructure but the big numbers for support and member would be from non-cyclists, rather people who might like to be able to get about by bike but don’t at present ‘cos it’s too easy to go by car to damn scary to go by bike.

  5. I wouldn’t think the vast majority of campaigners in these organisations would object to dutch style provision would they? Just that campaigners don’t believe there is any chance of it being implemented *and* the fear that “separate provision” will be miss-specified or miss-implemented. i.e. The difference between a rubbish segregated shared path and a dutch style cycle path is all in the detail.

    And the right to be on the road must be retained until cyclists don’t want to use it – i.e. the cycle provision should be so good that they don’t want to be on the road. We should be tempted onto great quality cycle provision, not forced off the road. That is obviously at 2 levels – public perception (difficult as motorists often don’t think cyclists should exist at all) and legal rights (with that case that had to go to appeal and the almost disaster in the highway code).

    1. Quite agree: if we could have Dutch-style facilities that would be excellent. But with typical cycling budgets of zero (and usually inextricably linked to S106 planning bribes) that’s not going to happen in the next few decades. It has taken the Dutch a long time to get where they are, and we haven’t even started on that road yet.

      The problem is not a physical one (the roads themselves aren’t dangerous), it’s a political one and a social one. The social tide is turning, with 20’s Plenty becoming very popular and cycling numbers increasing against the odds. Ever-rising fuel costs are also starting to make an appearance in everyday conversation, and the bike is an obvious answer to this problem.

      The sad thing is that few politicians have spotted the change in social attitudes, and the media are still stuck in the “motoring good, cycling bad” rut that they’ve been forced into by their advertising revenues.

      I’m pretty certain that the best thing we can do is just to go out there and ride our bikes, and enjoy the freedom. Others will follow, and things will change quite quickly when we get to the critical mass tipping point (c.f. London in recent years). The big organisations like CTC and Sustrans may well be surprised by the way the audience they think they’re targetting changes…

      Don’t be depressed about the lack of progress, cycling has everything going for it (with both individual and collective benefits) and the age of the one-tonne motor car are rapidly coming to an end.

      1. Anthony

        Very good points but I’m not convinced that the tide is turning that much (although where we are in Worthing, its always pleasing to see above average numbers of cyclists around town). However, it is still an age away if councils and ministers treat cycling as an optional add-on to car-centric policy.

        In a way, your comment is a classic CTC response; ‘Don’t worry! Cycling will reach a tipping point eventually, just you’ll see!’. I know we’re both CTC through and through, but I honestly don’t believe that the way forward is a cycle campaign anymore (as we have both witnessed on 20’s Plenty – it gets a much better response when cycling is only tentatively mentioned so the public can work it out for themselves). It has to be a broader road safety campaign as its becoming blatantly obvious what the real problem is on UK roads allied to the wriggling and greenwash coming from the motoring lobby to counter it. Another factor that gets easily forgotten by cycle campaigners is that this country has to discover the bicycle again from scratch.

        What’s very strange is the fact that, even in these post-Kyoto and Copenhagen supposedly enlightened times, cycling and walking as a solution seems even further away! Its bizarre!

        Jim

      2. I wasn’t saying “don’t worry, it’ll come” at all. Cycling levels are increasing, but only slowly compared to what should be happening.

        I think my point is that the resurgence in cycling is going to be a bottom-up thing in the UK, driven by normal people discovering the benefits. Much like 20’s Plenty is a bottom-up thing.

        Unless we get a serious change in national leadership (leadership??) cycling isn’t going to arrive as a top-down initiative (like the Dutch had).

        After 15+ years of local campaigning for cycling, I think we should mostly ignore trying to change politicians’ and planners’ minds: they’re just not interested. There isn’t any hope of getting Dutch-style infrastructure without commitment and leadership from national government, and that isn’t going to happen any time soon. We should be getting ordinary people on their bikes, and showing them that it is no more dangerous than walking, and a whole lot more useful and fun.

  6. There seems to be a little bit of segregated provision around. I’ve come across it on the A449 from Wolverhampton to Stafford, around Oxford, and out of Gloucester going South. It isn’t always very well maintained in terms of cutting back foliage and sweeping, but I would expect that those are fairly cheap things to organise. I’ve also noticed, out in the sticks between towns, there is often pedestrian pavement that is little used and with a little widening could be suitable for shared use.
    The start is there but who will provide the national voice to get it moving?

  7. Great post – my thoughts exactly!

    Seven years ago when I first started riding a bike after a very long break -I was terrified of riding on Sheffield’s dual carriageways which cut right into the centre of town and used to ride through the pedestrian areas in preference. Then I frequently got comments from people telling me to get off. These days even the police on their bikes do it and no-one bats an eye. (In some areas it is legal others not with no consistency). If I take my kids with me I even get “ahh don’t they look sweet comments”. Public perception, certainly in Sheffield, is shifting, many more “normal” people ride bikes, but equally I keep meeting people who would like to ride but won’t because they aren’t as “brave” as me.

    The demand is there we just have to figure out how to harness it.

  8. “We should be getting ordinary people on their bikes, and showing them that it is no more dangerous than walking, and a whole lot more useful and fun.”
    May I pick up on two points here?
    Who are these ‘ordinary’ people? Aren’t they the same people who normally drive? If so, I don’t think that they see any need to walk or give up their car comforts, and what is there to encourage them that they should? Having just had 20 minutes on a bus packed with people that I wouldn’t normally choose to be with I have some sympathy with those who choose to drive into town.

    Secondly, I more often feel in danger as a cyclist than I do as a pedestrian. That maybe just my perception but it seems real enough, but then I rarely find tipper lorries and taxis up on the pavement with me when I am walking.

    1. Two points:

      Yes, the “ordinary people” are exactly those who are currently driving: most car journeys are less than five miles long, and many would actually be quicker and more fun by bike (and an awful lot cheaper!). They will be giving up their car comforts as fuel prices increase, and, for younger drivers, as insurance costs become even more prohibitively expensive. The cost of running a small car is many thousands of pounds per year: switching to cycling can be equivalent to a nice pay rise. Note that cycling is quite different to taking a bus: you can cycle when and where you like, there are no fixed routes or timetables, and you don’t have to be crammed into a tight space with strangers 🙂

      Yes, I quite agree, cycling is perceived by many as a dangerous thing to do. But the facts say otherwise, if you look at them[*]. Pedestrians somehow think that a few inches of kerb stone are enough to stop cars and lorries killing them on the pavement, and yet that’s exactly where most pedestrians are killed: by motor vehicles on the pavement. Cycling is also cursed by the “helmet” culture, heavily promoted by the manufacturers and bike shops, who make a nice little amount from selling these overpriced polystyrene hats. More serious head injuries are suffered by pedestrians and car drivers than cyclists (and bike helmets are more able to protect a pedestrian or car occupant): but cycling is the only activity tarnished with the idea that it’s so unsafe you need a helmet to take part.

      [* ratios are tricky to interpret, but by one measure cycling in the UK is safer than driving in France!]

  9. I am a regular, at least thrice weekly, cyclist. I currently have six machines and all have worn tyres. I cycle because I need the exercise but I also tour and do several two to five day trips a year. I often use trains to get me and a bike to near where I want to be. I rarely drive; less than 3000 miles in the last two and a bit years but I am not quite car free.

    My trip into town is one mile and easier to walk than cycle unless I indulge in some illegal pavement cycling to avoid a fast dual carriageway and three lane roundabout. Also, I think that I burn more calories on the walk than the pedal. The bus is convenient for coming back with a huge box of Thornton’s finest, two boxes of Spatone and seasons 2 & 3 of Deadwood on DVD.(I only went for the Spatone). It is also free.

    I believe that most motorists respect the few inches of kerb and do not deliberately cross it. I have never found myself in a situation, as a pedestrian, where I was involuntarily sharing the pavement with a moving motor vehicle. I can’t say the same about errant cyclists.
    Yesterday I cycled 10 miles to visit a friend who lives a few minutes away by urban footpath and bridleway. On the way I passed a sand quarry and a tipper lorry came very close to me in his haste to get there. I wasn’t hurt – a miss is as good as a mile – but I was frightened. This sort of close miss is a regular riding occurence and I expect most regular cyclists will concur. It doesn’t stop me cycling but it doesn’t encourage me to believe any number of statistics telling me that cycling is safe on the roads. My experience indicates otherwise and is why I believe that only segregation of cyclist and motorist is good enough. In the meantime I have to make do with what I have and I pick a bike to suit the proposed ride.

    I realise that there are many different kinds of cycling and that few of them match mine. I have also realised that there is little hope of any change with the current ‘voices’ for cycling leading us. Cycle campaigners that I have met seem to be happy with crumbs from the motorist table or localised ‘improvements’.

    1. This is exactly the problem. Cycling certainly feels significantly more dangerous than walking, when in fact there is very little difference. We are quite happy, as pedestrians, to have cars and even HGVs thundering past only a few inches away from us, but the same thing really is frightening as a cyclist (perhaps due to the need to balance?). A kerb is as useful as a chocolate teapot if a motor vehicle heads in the wrong direction!

      http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/campaigns/0911_CP_RLJ-pavement_brf.pdf

      “In Britain as a whole there are typically around 40 pedestrians killed on pavements or verges by motor vehicles per year – that’s getting on for 1 a week.”

      “For the whole of Britain’s road network, there were 3894 pedestrians killed in collisions in 2000-04. Just 9 of these involved cyclists, none of them on the footway. The remainder of these deaths involved motor vehicles.”

      For London in the last ten years: pedestrians killed by cyclists on the pavement: zero. Pedestrians killed by motor vehicles on the pavement: 54.

      1. If I see a figure that could be 52 but 40 is regarded as ‘getting on for’ that. I immediately think there is someone, usually a politician, with a weak case to bolster.

        I find myself at a loss as to what point you are trying to prove with these figures that are selectively targetting 2000 to 2004. I’m fairly sure that there has been at least one death by cyclist on the pavement in the last couple of years but that isn’t the issue here.
        Are you saying that statistically it is safe on the road so segregation isn’t necessary or am I misunderstanding your point?

      2. @dexey I think he is trying to answer several of your points. e.g. about cars on pavements vs cycles etc. i.e. cars do kill pedestrians on pavements. And that fear of danger is greater than the actual risk.

    2. I find that when taking my daughter to school cars quite regularly mount the narrow pavement to squeeze through as the road is not really wide enough for two lanes plus car parking. They have solved this at the other end of the road by parking half on the very narrow .pavement

  10. A few thoughts: Many moons ago I tried the idea that we shouldn’t bang on about cycling, but talk about safety. This brings in pedestrians, cyclists and also the more responsible motorists. Of course, I then found out that “road safety” as commonly understood in the world of idiot-proofing the motorist experience is part of the problem – we have to talk about road danger reductionm (RDR) instead.

    Such an approach can bring in all the above mentioned organisations, and people like RoadPeace (the National road crash victims’ organisation) who also support RDR – reducing danger at source, and creating “Safe Roads for All”. We also go for a genuinely sustainable and civilised transport strategy.

    Simple.

    The only thing is: how are the organisations you mention going to work together? A lot of them don’t want to bite the “anti-car” bullet and panic at the thought of alienating Government (which is what lobby groups have to cosy up to). Also, a lot of their members (particularlly the racing cyclists in British Cycling) aren’t happy about perceived restrictions on motorists. A lot are just pretty toothless.

    On top of that, there are the differences betwen segregationists and integrationists in cycling, and the fact that many pedestrian and disabled people’s groups just seem to want to bang on about cyclist misbehaviour.

    That may seem negative. Actually, I see a lot of positive things – reduced casualty rates among increasing numbers of cyclists on my patch in inner and some parts of outer London. But the fact is that real road safety and sustainable transport has not got on the agenda. There was massive growth in motorised traffic under New Labout, and it’s not getting better under this lot.

    What we can and should do is prepare the ideological ground: get across the point that we have a motor traffic and particularly car, lorry and motorbike problem. That’s the problem, both in terms of danger and subsidy towards motorisation. Anything else ignores this gorilla/elephant in the room, is Hamlet without the Prince, or – as Mikael Colville-Anderson puts it, the bull in the china shop.

    See you up the road..

  11. The Times reports today that the number of road deaths in APRIL – JUNE fell by 16% from the same period of last year, and the number of road users killed or seriously maimed was down by 6%.
    Casualty rates fell for all types of road usres EXCEPT cyclists: the number killed or seriously injured rose by 5%.

    If our modal share is rising there are more of us and the CTC campaign says ‘Safety in Numbers’?

    1. Actually, that is a little contradictory isn’t it?

      From Road.cc,
      “Roger Geffen, Campaigns Director at CTC, commented: “The 5% rise in cycle casualties [from April-June 2010] may simply reflect the latest figure we have for the annual growth in cycle use of 6%. There is no evidence for pinning the blame on new or inexperienced cyclists.”

      ‘Safety in Numbers’ requires a significant modal shift – Way more than the drip feed increase we’re seeing at the moment. Its as though we have expect a rise in serious injuries until we get to this cycling nirvana. At least third party insurance and legal aid forms part of CTC membership!

  12. “Its as though we have expect a rise in serious injuries until we get to this cycling nirvana.”

    ….and that is what bothers me about the expressions of cycling being statistically safer than this, that, or the other.
    Each rise is more deaths or injuries for human beings. We are dealing with people not dry numbers.

    1. Of course we will see more serious injuries to cyclists as the number of cyclists increases. But the likelihood of being injured while cycling will steadily fall (the “safety in numbers” effect).

      Also we mustn’t forget the big picture when worrying about death and injury: the number of people killed or injured while cycling is tiny compared to the largest causes of premature death in the UK: lack of exercise for adults, cancer, and motor traffic crashes (for those aged between 10 and 24). Increase cycling, and reduced motor traffic danger, and on average everyone would live longer and happier lives.

      Approximate figures for the UK:

      100 people are killed while cycling each year.
      500 pedestrians are killed per year.
      2,200 people per year are killed by motor vehicles.
      120,000 per year die of heart disease
      240,000 people die of cancer per year.

      1. I’ll only say that I don’t find those figures at all comforting and if I, as a cyclist, am not comforted then there is going to be problems persuading those who don’t cycle to accept them.

      2. That’s my point. Cycling is demonstrably not dangerous, but the UK population believe with a passion that it is. The media, and even official UK government advice, reinforces this message: “cycling is dangerous, you must wear lots of protective gear, it’s not a sensible mode of daily transport, only children ride bikes, etc…”.

        The reason is 100% down to motor vehicle behaviour. Cycling on French roads is so much nicer as the cars give cyclists real respect and care, and you don’t feel the need for segregated cycle facilities there.

        So the big question is: do we try to build facilities to let us always cycle away from motor vehicles (extremely expensive) or do we try to explain that cycling on the roads isn’t dangerous (extremely difficult), and train cyclists how to cope with bad driving, or do we try to persuade UK drivers to behave more like French ones (extremely difficult)?

        The segregationists say the solution is spending money on building facilities everywhere, because motorists will never play nicely with cyclists.

        The vehicular cyclists say that’s impossibly expensive, and getting people to be nice to each other on the existing roads is the only real solution.

        The answer is somewhere between the two.

      3. Anthony

        The reason that French drivers give cyclists more attention and respect is because cycling is woven deep into their culture with World class events such as The Tour de France and the Spring Classics such as the ‘Hell of the North’ that is the Paris – Roubaix. When a similar event in held in Britain, you get constant moans about the fact that road closures are having to be implemented. It’s something foreign and different that’s being imposed on them.

        Their will always be poor motorist behaviour here because they know they can get away with it, like the three drivers I saw texting whilst in motion this morning.

        Short of completely changing British culture (although BBC4 recently stepped up to the plate with a brilliant documentary on the last day of Tommy Simpson and the Britain by Bike series with Claire Balding), I completely agree that the answer is definately between the two in terms of infrastructure. When I say ‘the Dutch Model’, I don’t mean segregated cycle paths everywhere as that’s not how it works in the Netherlands. It’s about designing a streetscape that puts residents and the most vulnerable road users first and re-prioritising road networks to alleviate ‘rat-running’. If we can find money for motorway extentions, we can find money for proper sustainable transport solutions.

      4. Jim,

        Yes, I quite agree that the different behaviour towards cyclists on the continent is a historical thing. That’s my whole point: the lack of cycling in the UK is largely caused by perceived danger from motorists, and this is almost entirely cause by attitudes to cycling in the UK (e.g. motorists almost always passing too close, cyclists are second-class citizens).

        I suppose I’m trying to say that building parallel segregated facilities won’t do anything to improve this, in fact it tends to make things worse (“get off the road and onto your cycle path!!”). I think that’s really what the vehicular cyclists hate.

        What are good are measures that restrict motor cars while making cycling a better alternative: cycle-only through routes, cycle-only contraflow lanes on one-way streets, redesigned streets to prevent rat-running, 20mph limits, stricter liability for motor vehicles. Surely these are the things that both segregationist and vehicular cyclists can campaign for together?

        Ideally we somehow need to (a) educate motorists to pass cyclists with more space and (b) educate everyone that cycling, even in the UK, isn’t dangerous.

        I really don’t think either is possible by “training” on a large enough scale to make a difference. We need to restrict over-use of the motor vehicle (particularly for short trips), so cycling becomes a more attractive option for more people: then the safety in numbers effect will really kick in, and people will educate themselves.

        [Re: texting drivers: take their number plates and other details, and report them to Operation Crackdown. This is more serious than drink driving, and the police statistics need to show how widespread it is.]

  13. The ‘perceived’ danger to cyclists all too often becomes a reality in terms of deaths and injuries. If you move the cyclist away from the danger with a segregated facility how can it not improve the cycling experience and how does it make anything but attitudes worse? Attitudes don’t, by themselves, kill and injure. Have deaths and injuries risen in the Netherlands since segregated paths were provided?

    1. We’ll have to disagree on the actual danger of cycling, as opposed to the perceived danger. It’s difficult to make sense of the raw data, and the perceived danger is very strong 🙂

      Parallel segregated facilities increase real danger (and this is acknowledged by Dutch designers) by increasing the number of conflict locations. Most cycle deaths and injuries occur at junctions, and parallel facilities dramatically increase the number of junctions. They also increase danger on roads where no parallel facilities exist, as motorists pass cyclists less often. In the UK, segregated facilities are usually of sub-standard widths (the only two collisions I’ve ever had with other cyclists have been on off-road cycle routes) and often have obstacles in the way such as bollards and bus stops.

      Yes, deaths and injuries do seem to occur more often where there are segregated facilities, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world: http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/research.html

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segregated_cycle_facilities has a good overview.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s