Yesterday marked the start of Road Safety Week co-ordinated by Brake, the independent road safety charity.
The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘tuning in to road safety’. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage drivers to avoid distractions whilst driving and stay focused in order to protect themselves and those around them. Sadly it comes too late for some as a staggering 11 cyclists have been killed on our roads so far this month.
As usual the tabloids try and perpetuate an 'apparent' rift between cyclists and motorists by selecting extreme views from the perspectives of both user groups.
As a cyclist and motorist I see mostly good, but occasionally bad in both. A reflection of society as a whole. Despite that I still firmly believe that if you ride or drive defensively, you will minimise any chance of unwanted contact.
Every time I commute to work either by cycle or car I see the following:-
Ninja Cyclists in dark clothing and no lights, their nocturnal camouflage ruined by the glow of a cigarette in the darkness or the illumination of their mobile phone seemingly glued to their ear.
Van drivers mimicking the above only with the additional props of a Costa Coffee and a Red top.Sadly that is often the starting point before poor riding/driving is added to the equation.
Recently I was contacted by a reader of my blogposts and a fellow blogger Mike Evans.
Mike Evans is a cycling enthusiast and freelance writer from Leeds who has been blogging about various subjects for the past five years. He has written a number of articles for Road Safety Week and here is one of his posts:-
Changing our attitude towards cyclists in the UK
Last year a survey conducted by the Department of Transport found that 65% of non-cyclists agreed that it is too dangerous to cycle on the road in the UK. For anybody that does cycle, this should not come as a surprise. Roads in the UK are notoriously bad for cyclists, whether it is the lack of cycle lanes or the poor road maintenance meaning you have to constantly keep your eye out for potholes. Whilst London comes closest to offering a decent infrastructure for cyclists, it still remoff the mark in comparison to other European cities and it is not surprising that many people view cycling as a dangerous mode of transportation.
In 2011, a report from the European Commission found that only 2.2% of the UK used a bike as their main mode of transport. This was in comparison to 31.2% in the Netherlands and 19% in Denmark. This should not come as a surprise. Two of the most cycle friendly cities in the world, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, are that way for a reason and it is the public attitude towards cyclists that makes it easy for people to pick up their bikes. If we look at the Dutch example, we see how their attitude towards cycling helps more people to cycle. Infrastructure aside, the fact that everybody cycles means that drivers are much more patient with cyclists. At the same time, cyclists are expected to respect the law and police on bikes will enforce the law for any cyclists jumping red lights or riding recklessly.
On the other hand, if we look at Copenhagen we see the kind of infrastructure needed to encourage people to cycle. Cycle lanes are everywhere and are a full lane separated from traffic as opposed to a single file strip painted on the side of the road. Public transport has more than enough room for you to store your bike and there are many places to lock up your bike at stations and around town.
Whilst infrastructure is undoubtedly a major factor in facilitating cyclists another important factor is the attitude that is taken towards cyclists. In the UK cycling is often seen as a mode of transport for those that cannot afford to use a car, whereas in other European cities cycling is as integrated into daily life as other forms of transport. In both Denmark and the Netherlands there is a strict liability law, which means in crashes involving vulnerable road users, unless clearly proven otherwise, the powerful road user is at fault. In fact the UK is1 of only 5 European countries to not have a strict liability law. Now the introduction of this law in the UK would not generate a great upsurge in the number of cyclists on UK roads but it certainly says a lot about our view towards cyclists and changing our view from seeing cyclists as secondary road users to road users with as much right to the road as cars.
Understandably, investment in infrastructure similar to these two prime examples is costly and not easily done. The government has announced a £77 million investment in cycling across the UK and to be honest, this probably won’t even begin to address the problem. However, we need to look at ways in which to change people’s attitude towards cyclists and cycling in general. Compulsory cycle training in schools and incentives for people who use their bike would go a long way towards getting people to cycle more. Those looking to take their driving test should have first-hand experience of what it is like to be a cyclist on the road. In addition to this, enforcing stricter penalties for rogue cyclists as well as educating cyclists about the need to be properly visible and obey the Highway Code would help to curb the aggression of some drivers towards cyclists.
Thank you Mike
Despite being off season it's been a busy time for the Anglo Mules over the past two weeks.
Firstly we had our annual awards and end of season get together. For 2013 the awards were presented as follows:-
Best overall rider - Duncan Collins
Best climber - Neal Madden
Most improved rider - Sofia Khan
Mule of the year awardThis weekend there was an inaugural Mouvember Sportive of 57 miles starting at the village of Brantingham (East Yorkshire). With unseasonal weather 8 degrees the UK mules were able to show off their livery as well as their grand moustaches. With a testing start climbing Brantingham Dale and then a lumpy route to Pocklington the second part of the course was flat and fast.