Thursday, 14 November 2013

A dark week for cyclists

This week in London, four cyclists have dies and another three have been seriously injured on London's roads.

I won't pretend to know the full details of each incident, nor am I stupid enough to apportion blame.

However, I do think that the numbers have now crossed the line from tragic coincidence to proof that something has to be done to improve cycling infrastructure in London. No longer do I feel irritated at the chorus of 'please be careful' from loved ones as I head off on my bike, now I understand why they worry and feel bad for being the cause of their concern.

Although I disagree with those around me who have decided that cycling in London means certain death, I'll admit there are problems to be addressed.

The cycle lanes that do exist need some serious work. The ones I regularly use in Ealing, Shepherd's Bush and west London generally are pretty poor. There are potholes galore, they stop and start at will and many are completely illogical. In addition, the problems identified with the Bow roundabout, and the recent deaths there, prove that paint on the road is not enough.

Separate cycle paths have their place but, in a city established hundreds of years ago, it is completely impractical to suggest we can build a comprehensive network from scratch.

I think we need to be looking at both cyclists and motorised vehicles to address some of the situation. Both are legitimate road users and should be respected and held accountable as such.

We need more access to awareness campaigns on the sight limitations of lorries, for example. Chatting to friends, very few were aware of just how little lorry drivers can see around their cab. The many cyclists I see creeping up the inside of immense articulated lorries are surely unaware of just how invisible they are.

Drivers should also be made aware of a cyclists' eye view when they come to close. Cars are meant to give a three feet of clearance when overtaking a bike, but few do. I've been brushed by wing mirrors or done emergency stops many times when cars, buses and lorries have come too close. I honestly believe most drivers would give more space if they experienced the feeling of a near miss.

what really gets me angryu, however, is that the laws already exist to make everyone safer, but they are not being enforced.

Since returning to commuting I have been horrified by some of the behaviour on the roads, cyclists and drivers alike have demonstrated reckless and dangerous disregard for one another and themselves. For every cyclist I see jump a red light, I see a car do the same. For every car that swerves into the cycle lane without looking, I see a cyclist cutting into traffic without any indication of their intentions.

I could go on, but the point is that there are dicks that drive and dicks that cycle. Their behaviour has to be addressed. There needs to be a campaign to clamp down on dangerous behaviour on both sides. Prosecute for light jumps, take on drivers that creep in ASL boxes, just bloody enforce the law. Bikes are required to have lights, so why are so many cyclists allowed to go on the road without them unchallenged. They are risking not only themselves, but everyone around them. It's not acceptable. Why are so many drivers allowed to get away with being on their mobiles phones? It's not acceptable.

Until we take road behaviour seriously as the issue it is and those in authority start enforcing the laws in place for our safety (and that of pedestrians), all the cycle lanes in the world won't be enough.

Cycling is on the up, with more people unable to afford the exhorbitant costs of owning and driving a car, it's only going to increase.

It's about time that those in charge stopped ignoring the problem and dealt with it.


  1. Cylists with headphones on....MAD

  2. I agree, I have avoided so many accidents because I've heard what's coming. Saw a great one the other week. Guy on fixie, going round Shepherd's Bush roundabout, at evening rush hour, no lights, on his phone. SUICIDAL.