Window on my world — 24 September 2010

It is now two months since it started, and although it sticks in the craw to say it: I think Bicycle Clips Boris may have picked a winner with his cycle hire scheme.

After some initial technology problems, the bikes are popular and, are usually ridden carefully, probably their weight precluding any Lycra loutish behaviour.

I’m quite happy to see more cyclists take to London’s roads, but I have grave reservation about the two new Super Highways (with a further 10 planned by 2015). These are just strips of blue paint on the tarmac, but they give the impression that cyclists have a divine right to their exclusive use.

TfL’s website informs us that ‘they will provide cyclists with SAFER and FASTER journeys’. Just the jolly job you might say, encouraging more use of bikes, getting fitter and save the planet. Further inquiry will lead you to realise that Blue Routes are intended to highlight the presence of cyclists and are advisory rather than enforceable, a bit like red traffic lights or priority to pedestrians on zebra crossings for some cyclists.

The first two routes are pilots to enable TfL to assess (and here I would suggest TfL consider a different verb) the impact on traffic and cyclists, and if successful Boris plans to increase the use of bikes by 400 per cent.

They say the worst kind of security is a false sense of security and this is where Super Highway madness concerns me. These lanes will be used by riders with little experience of riding in London and they could think they are protected in some way, but in fact any vehicle can drive down a blue lane at any time. It is a sad statistic that this year’s casualties have been mostly women cycling sensibly along London’s roads. It’s the Lycra clad lads on racing bikes with saddles like razor blades who are far more adept at keeping alive.

If Boris is serious about increasing London’s road bike capacity he should insist that councils are forced to provide dedicated lanes for their use, identification on bikes increasing the ability to prosecute law breakers and cyclists take out 3rd party insurance, then we can all jog along happily, as for joggers that’s for another post.

Be careful out there.

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Gibson

(4) Readers Comments

  1. There’s the funny thing: all these new “cyclists”. Sorry, they haven’t sprung into existence fully formed with bikes welded to their crotches. Before they hopped onto bikes, they were pedestrians and drivers and they still are. The fact that they are stupid and inconsiderate is just a facet of their perception of reality, and readily visible in the way they behave whatever vehicle or mode of transport they are using. As a cyclist, you become far more conscious of the shortcomings of drivers and pedestrians as – if you are not careful – they are likely to send you to hospital.

    The answer is not in more segregation or regulation, we have enough laws and not enough road real estate. The answer is in a realisation that living together on the roads is best for all. When I hop on my bike to cross town, there is one less car on the road, that should make you happy as a driver; multiplied enough it can make a real difference.

    And there are far more of us who stop at red lights now – you know that’s true (not enough, certainly). As more people get the habit and the desire to be taken seriously as traffic, then it will become the norm. I am certain in my mind that it is the continual loud reinforcement of the angry driver lobby that re-enforces the idea in peoples heads that cyclists jump red lights and disobey the rules of the road. So, when they hop on a Boris bike they think “I want some of that too”. It really isn’t a good recipe for cycling in London.

    Here’s my suggestion: let’s remember we are all the same, we don’t turn into different animals because of our mode of transport. And lets hope those stupid Cycle Super-god-knows-which-ways get sorted out 😉

    • Thanks for your very long comment, and yes I think we are all becoming, albeit slowly, more considerate of one another on the road.
      I had forgotten what a great resource londondailyphoto.blogspot.com was, I’ll put a link to it on CabbieBlog, and may dip into it from time to time for inspiration.

  2. I am happy to see an increase of numbers of cyclists on the roads. The problem is that a small percentage of cyclists ride on the pavements, causing inconvenience and danger to pedestrians. Another dangerous group of cyclists is the “hybrid” group: these are cyclists who ride on the road, on the pavements and anywhere that they fancy riding. This group also ignores the rules of the road, driving on the wrong side, cutting corners via the pavement, etc. I see these forms of behaviour often being committed under the noses of the police who do not intervene.
     
    When the total number of cyclists is increased, the number of those riding on the pavements also increases. I continually meet cyclists on the pavement and they apparently expect me to get out of their way.

    Without wishing to be a spoil-sport, I think that if we are serious about converting drivers and pedestrians into cyclists, then we should also be serious about requiring cyclists to be licensed and insured. Cyclists who break road rules should be subject to the same sanctions as motorists.

    Blue routes and special concessions (such as tracks shared by pedestrians and cyclists) all lead to the impression that cyclists are a different category of road user from motorists and that they do not have the same responsibilities for road safety. As numbers of cyclists increase dramatically, this may come to be seen as a bad mistake.

    • There is not much I can add to your comment, it’s common sense; pity a few road users don’t possess that vital ingredient.

What do you have to say for yourself?