Tag Archive | "cycling"

Transport Department’s New Cycling Safety Campaign

As someone who, in a former life, wrote about and participated in the world of mountain bikes and cycling in general, I like to think I am qualified to pontificate on the subject of cycling road safety. As, today, a driver and enthusiastic petrol head of many years standing I also like to think I am qualified to pontificate on the subject of cycling road safety.

I love cycling. The fresh air, the smell of the flowers in the countryside, the burning legs and the rasping lungs all aid and abet a healthy lifestyle. That is until a car slices across your bows as if you aren’t there, or worse, actually has you off. It has happened to me more than once.

Conversely, I like to make sure that I go for a long walk every day to clear the mind and the tubes. In the last week I have had three near misses from cyclists riding on nbso the pavement or the forest path who have approached from behind with no advance warning. I walk in a straight line, small children do not.

The whole point is that both groups, the two wheeled and the four, are both sinners and sinned against. The positions are polarised. Red-faced drivers rant against cyclists and Lycra-clad monomaniacs hate all things motorised. So, once again, the Department for Transport at the time of writing is having a crack at a new ‘Think’ campaign designed to improve safety for cyclists. Some city dwellers will see signs and posters in the near future.

Certainly we could all do better. The fact is that these things are always slanted towards the two-wheeled community because, quite rightly, they are far more vulnerable but the bad road behaviour of some cyclists is overlooked because of that vulnerability. There is no need to cycle on pavements on quiet roads. There is no need to buzz past pensioners who are not too quick on their feet. There is no need to ignore the rules of the road.

The Highway Code is there for all. We don’t want to see a rise in cycling fatalities but equally we don’t want the motorist shouldering all the blame.

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Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

Show of hands. Do you prefer cycling or driving? Thought so – you wouldn’t be on this page, otherwise. Nevertheless, you can do both. It’s allowed. Cycling is, after all, great exercise and you are out of the tin box and into the fresh air. The trouble is that cycling as a pastime or a mode of transport has been high-jacked in recent years by a sort of two wheeled single interest group who will have no truck with any ideas but their own.

The problem with these monomaniacs is they can’t see the wood for the trees. The ideas that they promote take no account whatever of the problems caused by following their strict doctrine. Let me explain. These hardcore obsessive’s believe that cars are the work of the devil and that they alone are responsible for the eco-ills of the world even though that is not true. Many different issues combine to do that. Certainly they use cars – which is something of an hypocrisy – but they think that motorised vehicles should be controlled to an infinite degree. This is fine up to a point if the rider concerned is a city dweller. Moving about our major urban areas on a bike makes a lot of sense but it’s only a percentage of the population who can do that. Most of us, for one reason or another, need a car.

One of the most argued points – and one that will come to fruition – is the twenty mile-per-hour speed limits in built up areas. If these bike riders care about the environment as much as they say then do they not realise that a car going at 20mph creates more pollution that one going at thirty.

This is because, almost certainly, the car will have to be propelled in a lower gear, causing the engine to work harder and thus create more emissions. Simple and obvious. The majority of cars will be fine in fourth gear at 30mph using low revs; at twenty it’s a different story.

Holland is held up as an enlightened country when it comes to cycling and this is indeed true. The difference is that, from the outset of modern motorised transport they understood that, as a cycling nation anyway, they would have to build their cyclist infrastructure alongside that of cars. That’s the key.

In the UK, we have idiotic councils who, in a ‘we must be seen to be green’ sort of way, put in ridiculous little bits of cycle lanes almost as an afterthought. You’ve seen the pictures in the press. The safety of bike riders will only be fully sorted when true, dedicated cycle lanes criss-cross the entire country, regardless of whether it is urban or countryside.

Motorists get a bad press. Certainly there are many idiots out there – it’s why we have laws – but most drivers are perfectly responsible and know full well that they must drive with safety in mind, especially in busy urban areas. If the argument against cars were more even-handed then maybe we would all get on our bikes.

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