What’s next for Cycle Safe? Question 2

Local councillors and local government representatives have the final say on how money is spent in their area; how do we reach them and convince them this is important?

This is one of seven questions that people were asked at June’s Street Talk. The responses below are unedited and in no particular order. We’d welcome further comments/suggestions – comments will close on 2nd July.

  • Remind them they can ‘tick so many boxes’ by investing in cycling : health, air quality, obesity, air quality, transport numbers, economy, better public spaces, climate change
  • Ask them to lead 10 children on a cycle-ride across the borough. If they are not comfortable the problem is not solved
  • Getting readers to keep writing/e mailing councillors/political reps
  • Getting people to support cycling in the first place should automatically make it an issue councillors want to take on board.
  • Make sure focus is always on enabling their population (electorate) to benefit from using bicycles, NOT about (existing) cyclists
  • Cost benefits of cycling/walking -reduced NHS bills, potholes, more local shopping
  • Survey your readers about safety in each area and ‘name and shame’ the worst and praise the best
  • Politicians care about their relative standing, so produce league tables of casualty rates and subjective safety
  • Learn from mayor of Mexico city – make them cycle to work once a month
  • Look at the benefits of other road users too, particularly walkers, safety of kids etc.
  • They worry about not getting re-elected so run stories , persuade them that they can encourage cycling for the benefit of their electorate without losing votes
  • Name and shame bad design and engineering companies
  • Give them solutions- help them
  • Convince councils that cycling is central to delivering liveable cities and is in their economic interest – note current decline of traditional town centres
  • Refer to their strategic objectives I.e. sustainability, high street regeneration and ensure this linked to why cycling is important to help.-yes cycling needs to be seen as ‘strategic’, this helps empower councillors to challenge demand for e.g. Parking
  • Suggest that all interventions are not costly. ‘except cyclist’ signs under every ‘no entry’ sign is cheap as chips or should be.
  • Prove by example
  • Steal it
  • If your street goes 20 mph we will cut council tax by 2% because we know that money will be saved!
  • Residential car parking is always a heated debate. More cycling will ultimately help in this regard.
  • Name and shame bad councils – seems to have worked in Waltham Forest. Public embarrassment the only way to get past the complacency (and corruption frankly) of many rotten boroughs, of all stripes, where councillors have jobs for life.
  • Get them to cycle through identified hotspots and explain how these locations could be made more people-friendly.
  • Corporate man slaughter
  • Attention to Dutch protests of 60s/70s demanding cycle improvements – improvements possible with political will.
  • Cyclists spend 10-15% more in shops – +ve for local economy
  • More protests/media pressure
  • Cycle friendly streets encourage more frequent shopping. High streets benefit
  • Simply list pros of cycle friendly environments
  • Point out that it will encourage people to shop local(ish)
  • Spending on making toads safe for cycling improves hem for pedestrians, older people, children, public transport users – most of the population
  • Get them out on bikes in their local areas
  • Don’t. Use local government to enforce standards and make sure local government does things properly
  • Economic benefits of reducing traffic/increasing bikes in local areas/towns/cities
  • Talk about poor choices especially wasted money
  • Point out that it’s the only way to solve their parking problems
  • When there is a death, single them out!
  • Use legislation that is there – prove we know what it is and how to hold them accountable to it
  • Select one ward to ‘Go Dutch’ and see what happens
  • Invite them (or even pay them) to book on David Hembrow’s cycling study tour Drenthe, The Netherlands. Next tour September.
  • Events like Skyride show how popular cycling is, especially for kids and families when a safe space is provided. Politicians under-estimate how much support there is for cycling.
  • Allow children (as the next generation) to speak directly to politicians/policy makers about how the current design/management of streets inhibits their freedom, makes them less active, independent, etc [intergenerational justice issue]
  • Explain how streets safe for kids to cycle = less pressure on public transport
  • More cycles and fewer cars means the roads suffer less damage and cost less to repair
  • Cost : benefit ratio – best value is walking and cycling
  • Get them on to bikes
  • Walking and cycling are different. Therefore no shared pavements
  • Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy – but other cash flow needed
  • Norman Baker has given a directive to all councils to improve cycling but NO funding. On already squeezed budgets this is not seen as a priority
  • Challenge them to tour their area by bike
  • Cost of obesity/lack of physical activity e.g. Enfield £58 million a year for obesity
  • Start at the top. Department for Transport models on ‘value’ and ‘economic benefit’ completely ignore people on bikes. A taxi passenger is ‘valued’ at 5x a bike rider! If the DfT changes the valuation = more money for local councils

What’s next for Cycle Safe? Question 3a

What are the priority issues that need to be addressed to make London and other cities fit for cycling?

This is one of seven questions that people were asked at June’s Street Talk. The responses below are unedited and in no particular order. We’d welcome further comments/suggestions – comments will close on 2nd July.

  • Ambitious and definitive cycling targets for +10/20 years
  • Cycling provision (e.g. safe storage and showers) in planning regulations for new buildings, especially offices. – precedent for new San Francisco law
  • Visible and quick changes when feedback/issues raised by cyclists (and accepted as justifying action)…
  • Subjective safety: feeling that it is safe enough for children
  • Safe enough for the 8 – 80 year old to be happy cycling.
  • Investment, investment, investment – specifically stop the free travel for 60-64 year olds and invest in public realm (cycling and walking) instead. The Freedom pass costs wandsworth £56m or £560 m per annum – accept that this is controversial but for the benefit of their grandchildren
  • Take a look at Bristol’s 1 hour street closure every afternoon after school!
  • Get more people to run Saturday cycle clubs in schools. In Bromley the Saturday GoRide is so popular there is a waiting list and they can’t get enough club leaders. They are splitting it in two to give it to more kids but with less attention each.
  • Make traffic law enforcement a priority.
  • Road crime is real crime.
  • Get more police on bikes.
  • Recognise that some travel modes present more danger to the public and act accordingly in enforcement.
  • Take on the Evening Standard and take on their anti-cycling stance.
  • Congestion charge £25 a day
  • Deliveries to shops before 7 a.m. and after 12 p.m.
  • Obsession with motor-capacity: there is so often no excuse for motoring in cities
  • 1000 Londoners killed in 10 years on our roads. How many speeding or driving carelessly tickets have been issued by the MET!
  • Speed. Junctions. Lorries.
  • Impose Congestion Charging – not referendai which people can gainsay
  • Reduce speed – 20 mph as default speed i all residential and urban streets.
  • Police ASLs properly.
  • Policing of motorcyclists’ behaviour is needed. Encroachment by motorcyclists on cyclelanes/ASLs is now endemic.
  • Address perception of road danger as well as actual danger, at source
  • Congestion charging outside London
  • Reduce parking – if you have to walk half a mile to get to your car you think twice before using it.
  • A journey is as bad/good as the worst part of it – too often there are ok bits joined by seriously unpleasant barriers
  • Subjective safety
  • Home zones <10 mph
  • Going Dutch
  • 20 mph
  • Rush-hour lorry bans
  • Reform police/CPS/courts. Currently they don’t care.
  • Get Boris to change the cycle prevalence target – 5% modal share by 2026 is too small and far too far away.
  • Make roads less accommodating of car usage and let the rest take care of itself e.g. Hackney and permeability.
  • Dutch-style infrastructure and road laws of course. Coupled with community cargo bikes!
  • Proper punishment of death by careless and dangerous driving
  • Making respect on the road the norm….less adversarial
  • Enforcement!
  • Discourage unnecessary overtakes – pinch points, 20 mph zones, narrow lanes.
  • Easier to mix transport – leave bikes at rail station, take bikes on trains etc.
  • Cycle storage (residential) on-street so that its as easy tp take the bike as the car.
  • Shared spaces with pedestrians. Badly organised ones are creating a division that is stopping the debate getting beyond the ‘inconsiderate cyclist’ stereotype.
  • Introduction of assumed liability as in many European mainland countries.
  • Segregated facilities on main road networks
  • Traffic calming more important than specific bicycle infrastructure.
  • Speed and volume of motor traffic
  • Cycle lanes that are fit for volume of bikes. Better roads with fewer potholes.

What’s next for Cycle Safe? Question 3b

What are the short, medium and long term opportunities to make London and other cities fit for cycling?

This is one of seven questions that people were asked at June’s Street Talk. The responses below are unedited and in no particular order. We’d welcome further comments/suggestions – comments will close on 2nd July.

  • Adopt a road danger reduction/traffic harm reduction approach – move away from roa safety wth sole focus on KSIs
  • Showers, drying rooms, lockers etc in all new/refurbished offices
  • Encourage employers to make their cycling facilities a feature of their recruitment (works for me)
  • Every government office to have a designated cyclist or more
  • Short – ‘permeability’ measures – cycle parking, 2-way cycling, direction signs, modal filtering, allowing courteous cycling in parks, urban greening – attractive places
  • Medium – driver liability, 20 mph everywhere, driver training
  • Long – segregation on busy arterial roads
  • Bring back restrictions on the number of car parking spaces in any new development. Dont allow councils to stop people tying bikes to railings – and privately managed building/land
  • Reform compensation system and introduce stricter liability – that would drive safety investment forward
  • Short term – relaxation of DfT guidance which now makes it easier to have 2-way cycling, introduce 20 mph limits, both at very low cost
  • Long – changes to DfT rules to come in line with other countries with higher levels of cycling
  • Cycle lanes that carry legal force (stud them out like in Barcelona)
  • Make all bus lanes 24-hour to give a simple initial solution  to giving cyclists some space (and let cyclists use bus infrastructure)
  • Short – all state procurement contracts to require motion sensors, cameras and sideguards on lorries
  • Medium – require share of magistrates and judges to commute by cycling
  • Copy Hackney – but remember ‘Hipster’ demographic not really found in rural Hampshire
  • Track shop rental values in pedestrian and cycle friendly areas and routes
  • Make sure traffic signals detect cyclists especially in the rain
  • Long-term – stuff the internet/technology enables us to do next: who knows???
  • Long term – plan land use to support local businesses and services
  • Age of austerity – value for money makes sense
  • Long term – look for town centres regeneration programmes that can be supported/shown to have worked due to cycling changes and get involved – make Kingston, wandsworth, Greenwich etc as ‘local hubs’ for cycle network as well as radial superhighways.
  • Medium Mayoral election 2016, general election 2015
  • Short: fix the guidelines
  • Medium: provide the money
  • Long: build it
  • Accept that it is a long-term goal… but make sure short-term changes add up to long-term goals incrementally.
  • Short/medium: decent communication! Signs, signals that are comprehensive and visible to ALL road/street users
  • The Olympics show that restricting lane use etc is possible when there’s political will – why not zil lanes for cyclists?
  • Quick segregation on major roads using cones as in Chicago/New York
  • 20 mph on all bridges – what’s the downside?
  • Boris has been stalling on a new road safety plan for London (see Mayors Question Time) Call him out on it.
  • New TfL road schemes are still ignoring cycling. These are schemes where they are already digging up roads and spending millions, so noexcuse not to take chance to put in great cycle infrastructure.
  • Build cycling facilities into all road maintenance schemes
  • Improve major roads and junctions
  • Traffic calm residential roads
  • Short – make existing lanes usable for cyclists – less parked vehicles in them.
  • After olympics make Games Lanes into cycle lanes
  • Short-term – awareness/education
  • Medium term – infrastructure
  • Long-term – culture
  • Ban lorries during days, not nights as at present.  Will reduce risk in commuting hours and ease congestion.  This is a quick and easy short term measure. – But cyclists at night are even more at risk.
  • Learn from the LCN (London Cycle Network) – why didn’t this £110m project deliver?
  • Convert quiet residential streets to have home-zone style play-areas, seating etc and make space for this by increasing zip car and cargo bikes to be shared communally (take out some on-street car parking spaces to make room)
  • Short – enforce existing lanes/laws
  • Medium – bring existing infrastructure up to Best possible standard
  • Long – dutch-style solutions – not just segregation but calming, reduction of traffic/speed/through routes
  • More experiments – even if just short term in first instance e.g. no car days, temporary lane closures etc. Opportunities for people to experience alternative futures and perhaps like them!
  • Short – more flitered permeability, cheap, easywins to close off residential streets to through traffic
  • Medium – reclaim carriageway space for segregated cycle tracks. The space is there!
  • Long – Unwinding/demolishing giant road schemes and restoring space for parks.
  • Short-term: return to car free days every Sunday over the summer not just once a year if that!

What’s next for Cycle Safe? Question 4a

What articles should the Times commission to encourage non-cyclists to support the aims of the campaign?

This is one of seven questions that people were asked at June’s Street Talk. The responses below are unedited and in no particular order. We’d welcome further comments/suggestions – comments will close on 2nd July.

  • Look at the side effects of more people cycling such as less traffic and much nicer places in town centres when there is less traffic.
  • How much traffic jams are costing to businesses – particularly during the day when women are driving
  • The cost benefit of cycling in health, reduction of pollution, congestion, LESS POTHOLES which cost a fortune to repair.
  • The benefit to local shops – pedestrians and cyclists use local shops more
  • Less accidents by slower speeds and better communities when people are in the streets not in cars
  • Diary of a newbie cyclist – challenge readers to take it up and follow their experiences.
  • Try not to be too London-centric (although congratulations on catching out the Standard badly with the campaign!).
  • How millions of people were able to get through London without cars for the jubilee so encourage a debate on car free Sundays
  • The impact of transport costs and lack of choice for the low waged
  • Case studies  – go and see some completed schemes, interview local politicians and scheme beneficiaries
  • Awards – best cycle-friendly council
  • Find out which councils are delivering increases in cycling and how
  • What evidence of economic benefits, e.g. new businesses supported by cycling e.g. markets and shops
  • Show the huge range of people who cycle now and break the ‘cyclist’ stereotypes
  • Run an article on people who don’t cycle here but will in Holland etc and get them to explain why (e.g. my parents who are now lecturing me on how good Amsterdam is)
  • To publish statistics of pedestrians as well who are killed/injured by cars – people are very anti-cyclists as they fear them
  • To establish that not all cyclists jump red lights or cycle dangerously
  • Explain in terms of clear goals….clean air, – kill the school run – social equity!
  • Educate people about greater efficiency of bikes in terms of road space used (also lower speed limit = more road capacity = shorter journey times)
  • Stories that question what sort of streets people want?  Do they want their kids to play on the street outside their house?
  • History of ‘Stop der kindermort”/social change in Holland
  • Highlight how a city safe for cycling is a city safe for children and older people and everyone in between
  • Get non-cycling celebs to try cycling through central London (or in the suburbs for that matter)
  • Get a Dutch embassy rep to ‘reimagine’ various London streets along Dutch standards
  • Compare UK cities to other pro-bike places like New York and Sydney: get some international competition going
  • The experience of the ‘Beauty and the Bike’ girls in Darlington – teenage girls learning to love getting around independently, cheaply, healthily.
  • Mums finding a solution to the school-run nightmare – or wishing they were brave enough /it was safe enough to start the solution themselves
  • Articles which set out visions (including pictures of how things might be different) of how our streets could be much better (for everyone) if much less motor-centric and ‘place’ functions given more prominence
  • Highlight the fact that only 5% of adults in England get the bare minimum of physical activity needed for health (Health Survey for England 2008) and that walking and cycling for transport are the best evidence-based way to increase physical activity
  • Show them how much money they could save (and explain direct/indirect subsidies for other modes) – potential link to moneysavingexpert.com
  • “normal” family  cycling using cargo bikes! Appeals to normal people who think bikes aren’t practical – they can be
  • Why ‘subjective safety’ should be considered – i.e. it is safe but we should feel comfortable cycling
  • Positive emotional persuasion rather than only use of cyclist tragedies e.g. children cycling to schools, childhood obesity, urban inclusion, restoring communities
  • Whole family cycling
  • Women’s cycling
  • Free range kids
  • Health stuff

What’s next for Cycle Safe? Question 4b

Are there campaigns/organisations that the Times should support/partner with to achieve the aims of the cycle safe campaign?

This is one of seven questions that people were asked at June’s Street Talk. The responses below are unedited and in no particular order. We’d welcome further comments/suggestions – comments will close on 2nd July.

  • All pedestrians & disabled lobby groups
  • Local shops and farmers markets – cyclists spend more at these than car drivers
  • Senior citizens groups who cannot drive/use buses which are held up in traffic jams
  • PTAs of schools – encourage the women/mothers to cycle/walk to school – majority of traffic in term-time is the above.  Women are the most likely to say they are too scared to cycle – as they jump in their cars!!!
  • Movement for Liveable London – cycling is central to liveable cities
  • Movement for Liveable London – build an alliance between cycling , pedestrians, children and OAP groups.  Make the issue about streets for people – agreed!
  • Cycling Embassy of Denmark & the Netherlands
  • Gehl Architects
  • NHS & Public Health Organisations
  • Living Streets
  • 20 mph as a default speed is a must and not up to each council to decide
  • Stricter Liability
  • 20 mph default speed limit in cities (not just residential areas) – definitely
  • 1000% of budget should be earmarked to making all streets safe and convenient for cycling and walking – agreed
  • To make it more about “people” partner with pedestrian organisations to class a cycle-friendly city as people friendly
  • Go to New York and compare Janette Sadik-Khan (transport commissioner) with London.
  • Talk to NYC politicians about how they changed their mind on cycling and now love it.
  • Then go and see Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and do the same.
  • Neighbourhoods that are willing their neighbourhood plan encourage walking and cycling
  • Carry Me Bikes – cargo bike social enterprise promoting families and freight by bike www.carryme.org.uk
  • Reach out to open-minded motoring organisations to convince them that with more cycling there will be fewer cars on the road and less congestion for those who must drive.
  • Motoring organisations – they’re not all bad to the core, and look for mutual gains.
  • Reach out to cycling forums – road cc, cfess etc, all full of ideas and criticisms
  • See me, save me
  • Roadpeace
  • NUT NASWT – issues with childhood freedom and school run traffic
  • NUS – national and individual universities (London Met has had disproportionate number of incidents)
  • Pedestrian groups: Living Streets, Help the Aged – the elderly (Age UK & other older people’s organisations) are disproportionately KSI in UK.  Until we have a coalition of non-motorised road users asking for the same thing we will fail
  • Sustrans
  • Living Streets
  • Cycling Embassy of GB – add a voice to their calls for better, safer, happier travelling
  • NCT, kids orgs – rights of kids and parents to travel safely, conveniently, healthily and cheaply (by bike!) e.g. ‘Carshalton Mums’, ‘Kingston Mums’ etc…(there are loads of them) – is it Mumsnet?
  • British Institute of Human Rights – a rights-based approach to the problem would be a great read
  • Move beyond “cycling” to kids scared of traffic, can’t play on the streets, residential and neighbourly “values” all too scared to be in the street
  • STOP interviewing the mad CTC and focus on groups like LCC, British Cycling that “get” cycling as transport
  • This campaign will only succeed when it broadens outside active and almost active cyclists.  There is a gaping chasm between these groups and the rest of the population.  It needs to move to a liveable streets agenda covering pedestrians and children walking to school.  What do most parents really fear? – not kidnappers, molesters or terrorists….they fear traffic and this very rational fear is distorting our streets, neighbourhoods and cities.  It is a unifying campaign that will resonate on Mumsnet.com and in the Mail

London’s Towpaths: The Fastest Way to Slow Down

A guest article by Dick Vincent, London Towpath Ranger, Canal and River Trust

Share the Space is a new campaign run by the Canal and River Trust, encouraging considerate use of towpaths in London. The Canal and River Trust, which will take over from British Waterways as the guardian of London’s waterways later this summer, are calling for all those who use London’s towpaths to follow a new Greenways Code for towpaths and to help keep the capital’s historic network of waterways safe and pleasant for everyone to share.

We, the Canal and River Trust, as guardians of London’s towpaths, are faced with a problem, albeit quite a lovely problem to have. We are just too popular. Our towpaths provide a network of green spaces that seem such a novelty in a city like London. They’re a lovely way to get from A to B by foot or by bike, simply enjoy a relaxing stroll or a picnic lunch. At peak times, however, in busy places like the Regents’ Canal, some 500 cyclists and 300 walkers per hour use the towpath and it’s our responsibility to ensure the towpaths remains safe and enjoyable for everyone. This is why we have  recently launched our Share the Space campaign, as part of a package of measures, to encourage those who use London’s towpaths to be considerate of other users, and help to keep the towpaths as havens for people and nature.

Behavioural change campaigns, such as this, are not new to us. We ran the Two Tings campaign for the past three years, encouraging cyclists to give ‘two tings’ of their bell, to let others know where they are when they are approaching, or wanting to overtake. In terms of raising awareness and engaging with cyclists, the campaign was an overwhelming success. How do we know this? Pretty simple really, just stand on the Regents’ at peak time – all you can hear is bells!

This is why we’ve created this new campaign. Based on our research , which we undertook with Forster Communications and involved focus groups workshops and a canal network wide consultation, we discovered most people are now more concerned about the speed at which other visitors travel and their consideration for others.

Share the Space is for everyone, not just one particular group. We want everyone who uses the towpaths, cyclists and pedestrians alike, to be considerate, and follow our ten point Greenway code;

1)      Share the Space- consider other people and the local environment whenever you’re on a Greenway.

2)      Drop your pace- jogging and cycling are welcome, but drop your pace in good time and let people know you are approaching by ringing a bell or politely calling out before waiting to pass slowly.

3)      Pedestrians have priority- towpaths are Greenways, or shared use routes where pedestrians have priority.

4)      Be courteous to others- a smile can go a long way.

5)      Follow signs- they are there for the safety of everyone. Cyclists should dismount where required and use common sense in busy or restricted areas, recognising that pedestrians have priority.

6)      Give way to oncoming people beneath bridges- whether they are on foot or bike and be extra careful at bends and entrances where visibility is limited.

7)      When travelling in large groups- especially if you are running or cycling, please use common sense and give way to others.

8)      Try to avoid wearing headphones- as this makes you less aware of your surroundings, and others sharing the same space.

9)      Keep dogs on a short lead- and clean up after them.

10)   At all times, keep children close to you– and encourage them to learn and follow the Greenway Code for Towpaths.

And – to be honest – we don’t think it’s much to ask! We worked hard to keep the rules simple, easy to follow and above all else common sense.

We have also recruited an excellent team of Volunteer Towpath Rangers, in all the boroughs the London canal network flows through to spread the word. They run towpath events, act as our eyes and ears but more importantly they’re our ambassadors meeting with local groups and communities.

We’re sure that by spreading the message about Share the Space, we can help relax the towpaths, which can be incredibly congested during peak times with the same success that Two Tings had. We want our waterways to be a pleasant experience for everyone to enjoy, and we would encourage anyone who meets CRT staff or volunteers on the towpaths to say hello and talk about the campaign.

Share the Space is entirely funded through the Greenways fund; a joint venture from Transport for London (TfL), the Mayor of London and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), which is making enhancements across the capital to facilitate better access for walking and cycling. With the surge in popularity of the towpaths, we are also working with TfL to provide alternative routes, improving the quality of roads in the capital so that cyclists who wish to travel at speed can use the roads safely, and leave the towpaths for those – such as less able walkers or not-so confident cyclists – seeking the more leisurely way of life.

To join the conversation on Twitter, tweet us @BWcomms, use the hashtag #sharethespace, or for further information visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/sharethespace

Bruce McVean to speak at Newcastle Cycling Campaign

If not now, when? Prospects for a cycling revolution in 2012-13

Bruce McVean, one of the founders of Movement for Liveable London will be speaking at Newcastle Cycling Campaign’s quarterly meeting on the evening of 12th June. His presentation will consider whether 2012 will mark a turning point for mass cycling in the UK.

A national media campaign to make our cities fit for cycling, mass protests in London and Edinburgh and (hopefully) Olympic success will make this a big year for cycling. But how can we ensure headlines lead to meaningful change rather than just a flurry of fine words and photo opportunities?

6pm on 12th June at The Cycle Hub, Ouseburn Regeneration Centre, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE6 1BU

Addison Lee – a road danger reduction myth buster

A guest article by Dr. Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum

Following cancellation of some accounts and the promise of a flash-mob protest outside his offices tonight, the boss of Addison Lee has issued a pseudo-apology while re-stating his prejudices  – which discriminate against cyclists and other road users outside motor vehicles in general and Addison Lee vehicles in particular.

For us he is digging himself in deeper. This saga is not just about a publicity seeker angling for notoriety and some extra business (he has form, as indicated by the excellent David Mitchell in yesterday’s Observer). It actually reveals a lot about the way in which we are supposed to think about transport and safety on the road.

This is not just one more extremist. His views are simply versions of the dominant ‘road safety’ ideology which bedevils a civilised approach to transport and real safety on the road. His tendency to get hold of the wrong end of the stick not just once, but on a range of issues is typical of the inversion of the reality that passes for ‘road safety’.

The most obvious example of this corrupt ideology is that Mr Griffin (see Saturday’s Times) has actually signed up to The Times cyclists’ safety campaign. Yes, he is actually on the side of cyclists!

But ‘road safety’ has so often been against the safety and well-being of cyclists and others: after all, if cyclists get out of the way of motor traffic, they won’t get hurt or killed. If people are too scared to cycle or walk (or their parents to let them), then they won’t get killed – something which traditional ‘road safety’ sees as progress. Griffin is just part of that tradition, and the following expresses it:

“My foreword in Addison Lee’s magazine Add Lib, has caused quite a storm amongst the Twitter community, and I’m glad it has. In the article, I argue for compulsory training and insurance for London’s bicycle owners and I still stand by my contention.

“About one cyclist is killed on London’s roads every month and countless others horribly injured. If the article causes a debate around cycle safety, and perhaps saves some lives, bring it on.

“Cycling is a deadly serious issue and lives are at stake. There have been huge campaigns recently to encourage cycling, but not so much in terms of improving safety and awareness for cyclists. “I’m glad that the issue is being debated. If anyone has more ideas for improving safety for cyclists, I would be delighted to hear them. In the meantime, I will continue calling for compulsory training and compulsory insurance for bicycle users.”

So let’s take this opportunity to puncture some of the myths:

TRAINING (or perhaps we should say ‘TRAINING’, as plainly what Addison Lee drivers are all too often up to indicates that any training they may have received has been for a form of behaviour which is not advocated by the Highway Code).

This is the classic example of getting hold of the wrong end of the stick – twice over. Firstly, if anyone needs regulation to control behaviour which is genuinely anti-social because it threatens other people’s lives, it should be the motorist. After all, by any objective measure (the third party insurances of motorists as compared to members of the cycling organisations, for example), it is motorists, not cyclists, who need control and regulation.

The other stick wrongly handled is that of ‘training’ in the first place: generally it is not about control or regulation anyway, it is about breeding confidence. The RDRF has strongly supported National Standards cycle training as a way to do this and generate more cycling, with major safety benefits accruing from the greater awareness by motorists of increased numbers of cyclists. Much of this cycling will of course be precisely the assertive cycling (taking the primary position, etc.) which seems to upset so many motorists, Addison Lee drivers among them.

It is about empowerment and enablement. It is not something to be forced on actual or potential cyclists; it isn’t what Mr Griffin would probably like to see anyway (it teaches rights as well as responsibilities), and it is ludicrous to see cyclists, rather than motorists, as the problem to be controlled.

INSURANCE There is a  good case for motorists carrying third party insurance – but there have to be proper chances of errant motorists actually being found liable and with proper pay outs for the damage they cause to people’s lives: we would argue that neither happens at the moment.  We need black boxes on vehicles to establish cause of collisions and proper reparations. Also, we certainly have a significant proportion of London’s motorists who don’t pay third party insurance, which Mr Griffin does not seem to be chasing up.

But full insurance against responsibilities is just that – a way of protecting motorists from their responsibilities. At the very least no more than 80 – 90% of the cost of injury to human beings (we are not so concerned with damage to property) should be recoverable through insurance. Third party insurance should be seen as at least in part another example of motorists getting away with it.

WHAT – OR WHO – IS ‘DANGEROUS’? Throughout, Griffin assumes that because some road users are not inside crashworthy vehicles there is something wrong with them – not the road users who are dangerous to them and everybody else on the road. We won’t go into how the increasing crashworthiness of vehicles has made motorists even more of a potential menace to others: suffice it to say that we need to see the principle problem as  those who can endanger others the most. This seems to be completely outside Griffin’s world view.

‘Road safety’ ideology protecting the (careless) motorist has always patronisingly muttered about ‘protecting the vulnerable road user’ (that’s human beings outside cars) – what do you think may actually be endangering them?

In case anybody wants to point out that cyclists and pedestrians can – surprise, surprise – actually break the Highway Code, well:

1.     We would argue that it is generally less dangerous to others than motorist law breaking, and therefore less of a priority, and:

2.     Motorist law and rule breaking is generally accommodated – or even colluded and connived with – by the creation of crashworthy vehicles (crumple zones, seat belts, airbags, roll bars etc.) and a highway environment (anti-skid, crash barriers, felling roadside trees etc.). Maybe try doing that for cyclists if equality is what you’re after?

TAXATION We need to demolish the myth of motorists being ‘overtaxed’, although it is not there in Griffin’s latest outpourings.

LAW ENFORCEMENT We will certainly need to raise again – London cyclists have long complained about this – the lack of law enforcement by motorists in general and private hire cars in particular. This episode should be seen as an opportunity to do so. The failure to discuss this has been a major problem in The Times campaign so far, as we have pointed out. If it is not to fail it needs to be addressed.

One thought does stick in the mind from the original Addison Lee ‘Editorial’: what cyclists would have to do to join ‘our gang’, including being ‘trained’. If it is a question of being in a gang which can hurt and kill with minimal (if any) punishment, there might be quite a few cyclists who would welcome such ‘training’…