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Tim Regester - 11 May 2019
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Transport for London did a study to see how prevalent red light jumping was and found only 15% of cyclists break the law...

Increasingly our generally sensationalist led media are trying to demonise cycling. The main way they do it is by emphasising how incredibly dangerous jumping red lights and riding on the pavements is. There is a perception that drivers can do no wrong and cyclists are criminals.

But what is a cyclist?  A cyclist is a term used for someone riding a bicycle, that covers everything from someones granny cycling their 1950's BSA down to the shops, their grown up son riding a road bike in full lycra, their grown up daughter riding a cargo bike with two toddlers sat in front and their grandchildren riding a bicycle for fun. Are all these people breaking the law routinely, are they all a danger to society? How many of them should wear helmets, all of them, none of them, does it depend where and when?

Transport for London did a study to see how prevalent red light jumping was and found only 15% of cyclists break the law, yet our media lead us to believe it's normal for every cyclist. This nonsense has to stop.

In an ideal world, so clearly not with our current government, cyclists in towns and villages would not have to share road space with fast moving cars. This is how they do it in the Netherlands and Denmark, increasingly also in Germany, Estonia, France and Spain. But our Government, while talking a lot about getting more people cycling has done very little outside seven cities in the UK to fund the kind of Cycling Infrastructure that such a seed change requires. The laughable aim of several Government policies is to make Cycling and Walking the default mode of travel for short trips (most commutes, shopping trips, going to school, going to the pub etc.) but the prospects of achieving this are precisely zero. Stop Killing Cyclists the most assertive Campaign to make cycling and our roads safer, proposes that the Government should invest £3 Billion per year to get the UK up to standard and make this a reality. But we have a Labour party that supposedly has a cyclist as leader, supports Extinction Rebellion yet has no policy to support this ambition and some Politicians who are blatantly anti-cycling both at Council and Parliament level. 

All the Labour party has to do is pass a Space for Cycling motion and promise £3 Billion per year and ensure this policy is supported by every candidate, if not then educate them. The Lib Dems are getting there, the Greens are on board, the SNP is on board, Plaid Cymru is on board. The Tories will never get on board though individual Councillors and MPs do get it, but are frustrated by being part of a political party beholden to the Fossil Fuel lobby and Car lobby and see car drivers as a vote winner. This is why the Fuel Escalator tax has been abandoned since 2010, the aim of which was to reduce car use and thus reduce CO2 emissions. They won't even act over Clean Air, the levels of Nitrous Oxides and Particulate Matter from motor vehicles is according to the NHS killing 40,000 people a year, yet the Government won't act and will let Local Authorities do nothing.

In fact Central Government abdicating responsibility for Active travel infrastructure spending and solving Air Quality is a common theme. They cut Central funding for Local Authorities then tell them they have to fund fixing these issues from their vastly reduced budgets. It's a con that they have perpetuated since 2010. They knew Diesel vehicles were killing people in 2010 but it took until the VW Dieselgate issue to bring it to their attention. They removed what funding was available as part of their "Austerity" programme even though it was proven to be effective. To achieve the levels of income necessary to fix these issues, Local Authorities are proposing, supported by "Failing Grayling" a new roads programme, the idea being new roads mean more housing estates which earns Councils more Council Tax and a New Homes Bonus. But new homes without cycle paths or even footpaths, no new bus services serving them and thus creating much more traffic. The Government is part of the problem and has no active solutions.

So meanwhile people who cycle have to share the roads with drivers, too many of whom don't have a clue how to overtake a cyclist properly, know that killing a cyclist is unlikely to lead to prison or even in some cases points on their license and with no police about can get away with being uninsured and their car unlicensed because they are unlikely to be caught. The number of drivers who drive drunk, high or use a mobile while driving is increasing for the same reason, they know they are unlikely to get caught. Speeding is normal and Speed cameras have been taken down in some areas because of the tabloid myth that they are only there for revenue generation. So it's no wonder 1700 people die on our roads each year, but it's not discussed on the media. Even locally when Johnny the Boy racer is killed in a collision the response is about him as a person "A lovely guy" etc. no emphasis that he was driving badly.

So watch Peter Walkers film about the emphasis on cyclists being criminalised and demonised and realise that this is to divert attention from the real issue which is government inaction, poor driving standards and our roads being the Wild West.

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2 Comments

2611

Paul Crouch

The Graun film is great. This is also good and has plenty of evidence for its assertions. I love evidence.
https://www.kaupunkifillari.fi/blog/2019/03/31/rethinking-safety/

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Michael Anthony

Couple of pence worth.
If one follows historically the British public advisory films on road use, and ehow to look out for cars, and then the earliest green cross code shorts which appeared, you realise how the pedestrian and bicyclist, horse and cart were being marginalised for car priority use. Even though the right of way remains the pedestrians.
So in a real way we have been indoctrinated into motor car/vehicle priority road use. The re-introduction of mass cycling obviously is now alien to the motor culture. It really is not about law breaking, although all transport culture participates in that by varying degrees. It is about priority of way.
Cycling is slow compared to most all motor culture road use. This frustrates shared road use on roads designed for motor culture.
Here in France, where I live, in rural West France, cycling is a rehearsal for the Tour de France all year. Cyclist here get killed quite a lot. Which is why most people cycling travel in packs of cyclists. I have to say it does not work a lot better, yet is marginally safer for them. Road rules here are much clearer. A cyclist as a road user has to be treated as a car. But people do not drive well and there are very few traffic police around for this type of incident!
I was recently in Berlin and deep in conversation I stepped back in expresion only to be berated by a bicycle bell sounding out and a young woman shouting to me, politely, in German. I imagine sharing the pavement walkway with Bicycles is okay once you live with it every day, yet I certainly had not got used to it.
Interestingly it is not now illegal to ride your bicycle on British pavements.
In Paris pedestrians and traffic compete with electric scooters as well.
I am beginning to no longer feel save walking along pavements in Europe.
Where cycling is separated all is bliss, or relative bliss. That is not a white line lane squeezed out of a carriageway, yet a way made just for cyclists.
As for newspapers nowadays they seem to think whipping up a topic provides enough controversy to make news from. Gone the days of the honest press!

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