09 November 2012

We need to be clear about what we want.

With the 6 cyclist deaths on our roads this week, and Wiggin's and Sutton's crashes, a lot of unlikely allies seem to have joined the campaigns for safer infrastructure.  Case in point is the Transport editor of the Telegraph: pictured here looking slightly uncomfortable on his bike.  In what I found to be a very frustrating read, he starts by attributing the rise of cycle safety up the political agenda to the increase in accidents, not the increase and diversity in people cycling, government's own policies, or effective campaigns. 
Then, he claims that 'until now its been reasonable' to advocate more training. for cyclists as a solution.  Well, actually, I disagree with that - there's a wealth of evidence that that is not enough, and its been available to planners, politicians and transport editors for a long time.  He then turns (implicitly) to a focus on drivers as the problem, and says that the 'think bike' campaign was a failure (wasn't that about motorcyclists?).   Then he briefly mentions trixi mirrors and is critical of govt policy. Good!
But the real problem comes when he says (I'm paraphrasing here) 'since we can't share road space, we need segregation'.
Which I think sends all the wrong messages about segregation. We will never have 100% segregation - no one does. What we need is to have cycling integrated into road planning - in the form of segregated cyclepaths, safer junctions etc. It is not an option of whether or not to share roadspace, but HOW we share it.  As another quick-off-the-mark comment in the Independent makes clear, we need respect between drivers and cyclists.
Dutch infrastructure is not just about corralling the cyclists off into their own space, and absolving drivers of responsibility for them.  Yes, segregated cycle lanes are a joy to cycle and we should have more of them everywhere, and especially on heavy traffic roads, and where we want to encourage cyclists and pedestrians to shop and eat locally.  But not every road can be segregated. So we need safer junctions, slower roads, and a range of infrastructure that allows cyclists and cars to use the roads safely together - whether in segregated lanes or not.  And where we do have segregated paths they need to be joined up, and connected to each other, as well as to the road networks. We need a redesign of how we use roadspace, and that requires integrating cycles into road planning, not segregating them. 


Kim (@kim_harding) said...

All the Telegraph article really shows is that David Millward doesn't really understand the issues, but feels that he has to write something, because it has come so sharply up the agenda. However, the fact that it is an issue which is moving sharply up the agenda, may give us some little hope that things will change.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the plan to make a load of roads 20mph in Edinburgh? As is proven every day I ride to work I beat most drivers to each set of lights and certainly all the way to work. I counted 50 cars from Fountain Park to Lothian Road once and a further 50 from Lothian Road to Queen Street.
While they fly past me irritated at each green light I again filter past them at the next red. So setting a maximum of 20mph would mean that they would reach maximum speed about the same time I did and we could cruise along together happily. I even think we should be able to hold onto roof bars etc and get a wee tow up hills ;)
Even if the 20MPH limit was for the hours we are sharing the road most eg rush hours 8-10 and 4-6 as a trial to see how the daytime travel goes....
Look at me commenting on a blog. Like anyone cares what I think
Your friendly local Spytfyre.

Sara Dorman said...

Kim - yes of course. But unnerving to see apparent advocates getting it so wrong.

Spytfyre - I think the 20mph zone is for posher areas than ours, but let's get a campaign going to extend it !!!