Cycling Embassy of Great Britain)
The Great Big ‘Cycling Menace’ Bike Blog RoundupMark Treasure on Tuesday 29th of August 2017
The big – and almost entirely unavoidable – news last week was of course thatprosecution, and the inevitable fall-out.
The Road Danger Reduction Forum wrote before the verdict came in about how disproportionately we treat dangerous behaviour on the roads in Britain, and, in its aftermath, about we should sensibly react to dealing with that behaviour, along the lines of Cycling UK’s response to the case. The Cycling Silk also produced a thorough, in-depth analysis of the rights and wrongs of the case, including how a driver might have been treated under similar circumstances. There was also thoughtful commentary along similar lines from Roubaix Cycling. Braking distances were a key element of the prosecution, and it seems that a major detail (thinking distance) was omitted in reconstructions.
Predictably, the case produced an enormous amount of media attention about an alleged ‘cycling menace’ with cyclists apparently ‘out of control’. Perhaps the most bizarre event was a confusing, angry interview conducted by Richard Madeley, who failed to let Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK respond to questions, while talking over him. He’s been invited to go out on a bike with Cycling UK, but it doesn’t seem very likely he’ll take up the offer.
The case certainly presents some disturbing implications for people cycling around in Britain – perhaps because the anger in the wake of the case probably had very little to do with Charlie Alliston and much more to do with dislike of cycling in general. it was left to Peter Walker of the Guardian to at least attempt to redress the balance, pointing out that, despite the media hysteria, the UK really is not being menaced by a horde of reckless cyclists.
Building better infrastructure
In better news, a Wick Road scheme in Hackney that caters properly for inclusive cycling would be transformational – and Hackney Cyclist has taken a very detailed look at how the council’s plans could be improved. If your city doesn’t protect your bike lanes (or even build them at all) using human chain protection is an effective way of making the point. Failing that, sticking down some toilet plungers will do a good job too! ‘Light segregation’ – not necessarily plungers – has, in general, a bit of a bad reputation, but for quick and easy improvements to roads and streets there are now more substantial (and attractive) ways of implementing it.
Designing good cycling infrastructure isn’t just about physical engineering – the overall network matters, and it’s also about reducing speeds, and even about removing car parking to make narrow streets safe and attractive to cycle on. The gold standard is of course the Netherlands, where Ranty Highwayman has seen plenty of things you wouldn’t believe.
Painted lanes are easily parked in, so part of the answer is ensuring that they are protected, even if it takes a three year battle to get it delivered. But obviously even good cycling infrastructure can also be continually parking in, so enforcement is also a must – and the same goes for ‘shared use’ footways in Manchester on match days.
In ‘less good news’, the Camberwell Green in south London scheme looks very half-hearted, while a proposed walking and cycling bridge between Battersea and Fulham will have stairs and lifts instead of ramps – unless agreement with Network Rail can be reached.