Thursday, 3 December 2009

Oh the rage

This morning I was watching BBC1 with my coffee as I usually do before setting off. As well as the news it provides valuable weather information and the traffic report.

A report about cycling was announced and my ears pricked up. Apparently research has found that you're more likely to have an accident/get injured if you cycle to work than if you drive.

No sh*t Sherlock.

My jaw was slack in disbelief that an entire slot of the news was focused on this amazing piece of news. The rage started to build when the reporter, in Bristol, started his pre-recorded section. At no point was it mentioned the kinds of accidents they were talking about, all accidents including minor bumps, those reported to police, those involving injuries? It would have been nice to get some clarity. If, for example it was based on injuries sustained it would have been revealed as rubbish. Of course cyclists are more likely to get injured, they are not in a big metal box with air bags and bumpers.

There was much talk of cyclists going through red lights and being silly, a refreshing change in fact as mostly these reports will not apportion any blame to cyclists at all, but there was little mention of the appalling state of cycling facilities and the fact that even where they exist some motorists swerve into them, park in them and generally act like nobheads.

What is the point of research like this if it is not examined in any meaningful way?

I honestly believe that while you can't prevent some accidents, cycling within the law and sensibly greatly reduces the dangers you face on the road. This danger would be even more reduced if cycle lanes and facilities were protected from idiots parking in them and if motorists who drive dangerously and those who hit cyclists through their own fault were prosecuted and given meaningful sentences.

This perception that cyclists are mavericks who take their own lives in their hands every time they take to two wheels and that an accident is inevitable must be addressed. Being hit by a car at some point is not a foregone conclusion, perhaps the money spent on this research would be better spent on cycle facilities rather than stating the bloody obvious.

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