Cycle lanes don’t keep us safe

It has been said countless times that painted cycle lanes on the side of the roads don’t keep us safe. Despite this, our cycling facilities seem to be made up of mostly this, painted cycle lanes on the side of the road.

The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!

Advertisements

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.

A Good Result for Video Camera Cyclists

If you watch lots of cycling videos then you will know that lots of us have had various confrontations with drivers over the years and had varying degrees of success/failure with the police.

Our very own cycling lawyer has been working hard at getting a result on an incident which happened well over a year ago now. He was cycling down a road and up ahead was a pinch point, so as taught in national standards cycle training, he took control of the lane to prevent a motorist for passing him far too closely. Unfortunately a motorist behind him who’s valuable 5 seconds was just waisted by having to slow down, felt the need to sound his horn and shout at the cyclist. Further down the road the car driver was of course  held up by other motorists and at this point the motorist felt the need to threaten to take the cyclists life.

Well a long story short, the police fobed of our cyclist with his video footage but he didn’t give up, he fought his case and eventually got the driver punished for threatening or abusive words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. This resulted in him receiving over a £500 fine. Read more >

It is no doubt a great result and I’m applaud Martin for his hard work and determination to get a result. I just wish that it wasn’t required and that other threatening behaviour with a vehicle was taken more seriously. As I’ve said before it seems that the roads are un-policed and some people deem that cyclists deserve to be punished for daring to get in the way of such a powerful machine.

Take Care on London’s Roads

An e-mail I got from TFL…

I am writing to both cyclists and drivers to remind them to take care on London’s roads.

Cyclists are reminded to:

  • Be aware of blind spots all around large vehicles. It’s often safer to hang back
  • Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they have seen you
  • Not ride through red traffic lights. It’s dangerous and you can be fined £30
  • Allow space between you and parked vehicles. Doors may be opened suddenly

No mention of what drivers are reminded to be aware of on the roads. Hopefully a bit of education about cyclists and their needs on the road but that is probably a long shot.

Ungrateful Bastards

Received this comment on one of my videos.

Us cyclists are freeing up space on the road by cycling instead of driving! If we all drove instead, nobody would be able to get anywhere, or at least it would take them a lot longer. Considering how impatient a lot of car drivers are, they should be thanking us! Ungrateful bastards 🙂

 

Haha, made me chuckle. If only they where thanking us!

Cyclists don’t stop at red

Cyclists are often outed by other road users for not stopping at red lights. But no group is innocent at this.

A TFL study showed that 84% of cyclists in London stopped at red lights, so why is it perceived that we jump red lights?

Cyclists generally cycle through red lights when other traffic has already stopped at them, they cycle slowly, sometimes stop, and check if it’s clear to go. It’s clearly viewable by other road users and in most cases done safely. You get the odd Silly Cyclist who cycles through pelican crossings far too fast and without checking for pedestrians.
Where as other road users generally drive through the amber and red lights just after they have changed, they do it at high-speed and without checking. This can often cause crashes if the light sequence is very tight and you get someone pulling away from the lights early.

Which is worse? Well they are both technically as bad as each other. There is an argument that cyclists do it safely because they wait, look and then go. Where as motorised vehicles drive through the lights at speed and without checking, their vehicles are often considerably bigger, heavier and harder than a cyclist. Doing it safely and slowly doesn’t make it any better. The act of doing something so visibly wrong is damaging to the rest of us that cycle, hence why we are all tarred with the same brush.

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.

You’re causing traffic

Something I’ve had shouted at me as vehicles pass me or been told on other occasions. Statements like this show the stupidity and naivety of people who shout them.

For starters, the definition of traffic is not vehicles being held up or stationary but in fact just describes any vehicle on the road. So I am traffic, as are you and that is without other vehicles behind you.

Traffic: Vehicles moving on a public highway: “a stream of heavy traffic”.

Even if the word traffic meant a queue of stationary or slow-moving vehicles. Are cyclists the ones causing these queues? Or is it the hordes of other vehicles using the road?