Death on the roads

I love Fleet Street Fox, I really do, but her blogpost making fun of cyclists and complaining that if you’re squished by a bus you should have been wearing a helmet wasn’t her finest hour.

Jon Snow of Channel 4 has done a five-minute film partly with a helmet-cam of what it’s like cycling in London. He admits near the start that he runs red lights to get ahead of the traffic because the secret to survival is making sure you’re seen.

In Edinburgh three cyclists were killed in the space of a few months. Earlier this year, Pedal on Parliament held a huge cycling demo. I don’t cycle in Edinburgh any more, but I support cycling. It often seems the council doesn’t, particularly – provision for cyclists is low on major thoroughfares, though Jim Orr, vice-convener of the Transport committee, said in response to concerns about bike-unfriendly plans for Leith Walk:

“Several councillors are regular cyclists including myself and the Council Leader Andrew Burns. So, we are very aware of the views about the need to improve the facilities for cyclists in the city and have pledged to to exactly that. Much of the comment about the Leith works has touched on cycling and it is a high priority for us to do what we can to make Edinburgh a truly bike-friendly city.”

Yesterday evening there was a conversation that probably went on far too long, because the basic positions of all three Edinburghers were summarised in our opening tweets:

Kirsty also stipulated that cyclists are just as dangerous as drivers, but was unable to show any evidence to support that conclusion. I have sympathy for cyclists on pavements where the road is full of traffic, there’s roundabouts where at least one driver is likely to regard a cyclist as a roadbump, and there’s no cycle lane (or if there is, drivers are using it as a parking area) but certainly any cyclist who opts to ride on the pavement needs to keep at pedestrian-speed and give way to pedestrians: still, the hazard to life for both pedestrians and cyclists is cars and their drivers.

Coincidentally my lodger mentioned that she nearly got killed by a driver yesterday – a dangerous junction, a driver who wasn’t paying attention to the bicycle with the right of way. We discussed cycle lanes and road repair – there’s a pothole on North Bridge which is becoming a serious hazard – and the lack of investment in anything but tramworks.

It always seems odd to me that drivers accuse cyclists of being “arrogant”: the ultimate arrogance is surely to demand that cyclists either risk their lives sharing the road with drivers who can kill, or get off the road and stop cycling entirely. The idea that drivers need to learn better road manners in order to ensure the safety of cyclists comes up not nearly as often as the idea that cyclists should wear helmets.

Jon Snow suggests: Maybe the way to honour Team GB’s Olympic cycling prowess is to start right now investing in UK cycling infrastructure…

Cycle lanes for Leith Walk, please.

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Filed under Olympics, Public Transport, Travel

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