Teaching Pedestrians to LOOK

Bike Butterfly is a cycling invention that aims to teach pedestrians to look before crossing the road. Far too many just use their ears to listen for motorised traffic and cross when they don’t hear an engine.

I can’t see this being useful, it may make a pedestrian think next time but I believe that as a cyclist we should be actively looking out for situations where pedestrians might step out and take action to avoid getting into a situation where you can’t avoid them if they do step out.

Looking into this in more detail,  it appears to be a ‘test’

What new business models will the marketing agencies of the future operate to? Will they buy media in traditional ways, or ‘create audiences’ that their client brands can buy into?

Johnny Vegas and Monkey started out advertising ITV Digital. They then popped up a few years later advertising PG tips. We’re interested in understanding if  you can de-risk advertising by creating assets that have a built in audience and then attach brands and businesses to them once they are proven to be popular. Will they be rejected once they have a commercial function? We don’t know but we are in the process of finding out.

Source: http://www.corkewallis.com/work/bikebutterfly

Things are looking positive

Hundreds if not thousands of cyclists turned up to cycle around the streets of London to show support for The Times Cycle Safe campaign on the eve of the parliamentary debate. A debate which saw the House of Commons rather empty.

I would like to start of by saying thank you to the usual suspects, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n, Danny of Cyclists in the City and of course the London Cycling Campaign for organising another great protest ride, which despite the forecasted weather, had plenty of cyclists attending. And whilst there where a few niggles with the police and how the pack was being split up, thank you to them for helping marshal the event and keeping everyone safe.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to cycle this event due to a knee injury, instead I was walking on foot with my camera in hand taking photos. A few of those photos can be seen on flickr. The turnout was certainly huge, I’ve heard numerous numbers thrown around, and as a bystander, I can certainly say it was above 1,000 cyclists. Watching the cyclists coming over westminster bridge was just amazing, the line went on for ages!

This was of course on the eve of the parliamentary debate about cycling safety. The Times campaign has certainly set an impressive chain of events into motion as we see the House of Commons almost empty yesterday afternoon. This is an achievement that no other cycling campaign has managed in recent years.

So are things looking positive? Well a great turn out from cyclists and a good turn out by MP’s is certainly a positive, our trusty Prime Minister David (not a cyclist) Cameron may have just thrown a few bad eggs. Promising a pitiful amount of money for building new cycle routes across the country (less in fact than what was spent on the current Cycle Superhighways, and we know how good they are). It is of course a start.

At the end of Wednesdays ride, Mark of i b i k e l o n d o n announced a new date to keep clear in our diaries, Saturday the 28th of April, for another mass ride, where hopefully even more cyclists will turn out for our biggest gathering to date.

 

A riders view of the ride. Thanks to Arasllopp for this

What are we missing?

The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.

The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.

But are we missing something?

The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.

So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.

Speeding is bad driving

As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.

Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.

Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.

It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.

We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.

The Times – Save our Cyclists

Yesterday The Times launched a campaign to make cycling in cities across England safer after one of the Times’ reports was struck by a lorry only yards away from her workplace in November last year, she has been a comma since.

I was asked to give my opinion on current road conditions for cyclists, and whilst I think the roads are a safe place, there is obviously an issue on our roads.

In the last quarter of 2011 we saw an 8% rise in cycling deaths or serious injuries in London over 2010’s last quarter whilst deaths and serious injuries of car drivers, motorcyclist’s and pedestrians continued to fall.

Compare Paris to London, a city which has 3,000,000 more people than us and is known for its crazy drivers. How many cycling related deaths where there in 2011?

The bike accident is not what concerns us most and in 2011, there were no death

Source >

There where 0 cycling deaths in Paris throughout 2011, where as in London, there where 16 deaths and many more seriously injured. Why do we allow these deaths to continue? It seems that the public think these sorts of deaths are acceptable, nothing happens to make cyclists safer on the roads!

In the past decade, cyclists killed on our roads outnumber servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by a factor of two.

Any sort of death of a person is a tragic incident, just think about how you would feel if a family member was suddenly no longer with you! We can do something about deaths on our roads, make them safer and all road users will have the benefit of being able to travel without the thought of it being there last.

The Times raise an 8 point manifesto of things they want changed, and whilst I don’t agree that every point is going to make a difference, they are certainly pointing in the right direction and having such a large newspaper behind us is a great thing.

In the first day of the campaign more than 5,000 people pledged their support with more than 300 writing to their MP’s and many more showing support on twitter.

Hump de Bump

I blogged in the past about issues I was having with the building management and the bike stands provided at work. After several bicycles where stolen from the basement the security decided to take a more proactive action with regards to cyclists.

This has resulted in those of us not able to use the racks due to full length mudguards or we use non-standard design bikes being punished as we are forced to use them or our access will be taken away. I argued that the racks where not secure and can damage bicycles but it went unheard.

In recent weeks a pass reader was put half way up the exit ramp, something which only cyclists have to use as motorised vehicles set of an automatic gate opener in the floor. This is obviously quite a pain as you either have to be perfectly skilled to be able to touch the card on the reader whilst cycling up the ramp and time it so that you get to the gate just as it opens, or stop and touch in. The later results in an uphill struggle as setting off again on a slope of this nature is not easy.

I can see why the building management decided why this would be a good idea, as the thieves where coming from the outside and able to leave at a push of a button. But why put the reader in such an inconvenient place?
Well that would be where the previous button was and to save re-wireing the whole system they decided to replace the button with a card reader. It would be much more sensible to put the reader at the bottom of the ramp where it is flat, so that you don’t have to start off on a slope.

There is a flaw in whole concept of touching out to open the gates. The gates are open for a fair amount of time after you have touched in, this means that multiple cyclists can get out at once. All you have to do is wait for a cyclist do go up the ramp and touch out, to get out without a pass.

Anyway on to the subject of this post.
An e-mail was sent out yesterday about the installation of speed bumps on the ramp due to a few near misses and apparently an accident because of speeding cyclists down the ramp.

Please be advised that on Saturday 28th January we have arranged an installation of speed humps on both of the ramps leading to the car park. They will be installed 2/3rd way down the ramp in order to control the speed of cyclists. We have experienced several near misses and an accident resulting from speeding cyclists therefore these precautions are necessary.

Further on in the e-mail

We recommend that the cyclists should walk down and push their bike both down and up the ramps.

Well I also hope that they recommend drivers and motorcyclists to get out of their vehicles and push their cars/vans/motorbikes up and down the ramps.

I managed to find out what kind of bumps they will be installing, its dimensions don’t look too bad and i expect only a small change in speed is required to get over them, how wet tyres will handle them, I’m unsure.

I spoke to a few colleagues about this and we certainly feel that the building management is a bit of a joke. We will try to form together a group and see if we can use our numbers to battle them. I suspect that getting together with the other companies in the building is going to be required, and this is going to be the tricky part.

No Helmets?

Look at these cyclists, on ice and not one of them is wearing a helmet and none of them crack their heads open and die.

I posted this more in jest than an actual representation of not needing helmets.

Recently the Womens Institute has been looking into backing mandatory helmet laws. As adults who have cycling experience, you are unlikely to fall of your bicycle by your self. You are more likely to be knocked off your bicycle by a hard moving vehicle. A collision which involves forces outside of the design parameters of a bicycle helmet.

Just look at the other countries which have mandatory helmet laws, cycling levels have dropped but a considerable amount.

It would be better to target the cause of bicycle accidents rather than try to force people to use protection which doesn’t actually protect you in all circumstances.

Croydon’s Urban Motorways

As someone who has lived in or around Croydon all my life, I’ve never really noticed it before. That is until it was drawn to my attention by this post.

The post on As Easy As Riding A Bike is looking at a well-known cycling facility on Wellesly road. One that was in fact so bad on the first attempt, it was partially removed and modified. The post mentions how Wellesly road looks very similar to that of a motorway, several lanes of fast-moving traffic, no places for pedestrians to cross and some busses and trams thrown in for good measure. Standing back a little and it clearly divides the town centre in two. On one side you have central Croydon’s shopping plazas and entertainment areas and on the other you have a mass of office buildings, the busy east Croydon train station, Croydon Collage and the Fairfield Halls.

This isn’t the only road in Croydon that has similarities with a motorway. There are several flyovers and multilane roads that were designed in the 1950’s to help motor traffic move quickly from one area to the next. We have Roman Way, Croydon Flyover and The Purley Way for example. None of these roads have speed limits greater than 40mph and like all other speed limits, they are rarely obeyed by motorised traffic.

Roads like Wellesly Road and Purley Way are the kind which today should be very much avoided. They provide a fast and easy route though a busy area, taking away crossings for  pedestrians and providing traffic with the fastest route from A to B. The direct traffic flow with little traffic lights and long sight lines means vehicles travel much faster than they should and provide a dangerous situation for anybody who choose to travel by bicycle.

The centre of the town is pretty much surrounded by these kind of roads and it makes crossing the town by bicycle a difficult and sometimes unpleasant experience. If you have knowledge of the town there are various rat runs you can take to avoid said roads, but they usually involve crossing tram lines at tight angles or cycling through infrastructure which is not maintained.

TFL’s plans for Blackfriars bridge can be compared to these roads, hostile places for everyone that isn’t surrounded by metal, not pleasant to look at or use and certainly not inviting for clean modes of transportation.

Teaching people to cycle

We are mostly taught to ride our bikes in a park by our farther. He pushes us along and we learn to ride in a straight line. As we cycle more we get more confidence.

How do we learn to ride on the road? We can go to bikeability courses or other cycle training run by local councils or qualified individuals. But will adults go to these course, will people actively seek out education on how to use the roads safely?

I suspect most won’t, why do they need to be told how to cycle. It’s a fairly easy task to ride a bicycle but doing so in an environment full of faster moving, harder and sometimes recklessly driving vehicles is much harder.
Understanding traffic flow, the mindset of most drivers and common dangers can give you the vital foresight to position your self in a safe and sometimes controlling position.

Getting lessons can provide people with the confidence and knowledge to cycle on the roads safely but are there other ways we can teach people to cycle safely?

I’ve tried giving the odd tip to people on the roads, “Cars indicating left will often turn at the turning, so don’t undertake them” but people don’t take well to being told what to do. Even if it is with the best intentions. So it often results in being sworn at.

The Mayor of London and his team boast about how much cycle training they have provided, don’t get me wrong, I think it is great! But something needs to be done to educate the cyclists that don’t think they need training. I see people cycling in the gutter and lane splitting on multilane roads daily. These are the Silly Cyclists we need to educate, as one day their style of riding may result in them getting injured.