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TOPIC: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety?

Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #1

In 2011 there were 14,079 accidents of 18-59 year old cyclists up 15% on 2010 “ The DfT's 2011 annual report on UK road casualties” .
The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, The Secretary of State for Transport has recently received an open letter from a campaign group, Share the Road requesting:

• Compulsory training and testing for cyclists before they take to the road.

With that in mind do you think training and testing is a good idea and how do you safely increase cycling in your organisation and community?
Last Edit: by Scott Buckler.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #2

I do think it’s a good idea; however, making it compulsory, like helmets, may put some off the idea. I thought the study summary below was quite interesting. To summarise the summary: weighing the pros of cycling against the cons (e.g. potential accidents) the health benefits of cycling are on average nine times greater than the risks associated with driving a car;

From a societal point of view, shifting from cars to other forms of transportation, such as bicycles, may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and increased levels of physical activity. However, increased use of bicycles may increase both personal exposure to air pollutants and the risk of traffic accidents. De Hartog et al. (p. 1109) reviewed the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents, and physical activity and estimated the impact on all-cause mortality if 500,000 people shifted from cars to bicycles for short trips on a daily basis. The authors expressed the impact on mortality in life-years gained or lost using life table calculations. For individuals shifting from cars to bicycles, the authors estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity would be substantially larger than potential mortality due to increased air pollution exposure and traffic accidents. Societal benefits of cycling were even larger due to a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents. The authors conclude that the health benefits of cycling are on average nine times greater than the risks associated with driving a car.

See the full article here: ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle...0.1289%2Fehp.0901747
Last Edit: by Scott Buckler.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #3

Compulsory training and testing is a ridiculous idea. Many local councils already offer free or subsidised training and there are numerous publicity campaigns and free information packs available to ensure cyclists are safe on the roads. To try to police a system of compulsory training/testing would not be viable – we must continue to try and encourage cyclists to take responsibility for their own safety and where possible provide dedicated cycle routes, something that the majority of other European countries have managed extremely successfully.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #4

Yes we're neglecting cyclist's safety, but the answer isn't to educate the victims of road danger. Who the hell are 'Share the Road'? anyway? The hidden message in this open letter, that cyclists will somehow be safer, or even taken more seriously, by other road users if they jump through some of the same hoops as motorists is risible.

There's an easy way to make cyclists safer in this country and it doesn't involve compulsory education for cyclsts, or helmets, or reflective yellow vests or separate cycling farcilities.

In case we forget, cyclists, along with pedestrians, equestrians and folks driving their pigs to market have a right to use the roads. Drivers require permissions and qualifications including compulsory training, licensing and third party insurance, their vehicle must be registered, must comply with an extensive list of legal requirements covering design, build quality, emmissions and performance. Their vehicle must be inspected regularly. Cyclists have rights, motorist have responsibilities. This is entirely appropriate given the difference in danger that cyclists and motorists pose to other road users.

A great many drivers think they own the road. They still believe they pay road tax (abolished in the thirties) and that this gives them greater rights to use the road. They also know that they're unlikely to get caught when they break the law, which is why speeding and illegal phone use is endemic.

It's very simple. The way to improve conditions for Britain's cyclists is to apply the existing road traffic laws, prosecuting drivers when they break the rules. The Police must be given the resources to prosecute dangerous and careless driving and educate motorists about the needs of cyclists.
Last Edit: by Mick Allan. Reason: speling

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #5

As a recent ‘born-again-cyclist’ a motorist and pedestrian, (and someone whose job involves promoting modal shift); I can see both sides of the argument. Motorists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians all have a responsibility for their own safety and that of others; particularly those more vulnerable than yourself. Whilst I would be reluctant to advocate compulsory training for cyclists, I could see the benefits of encouraging more people to undergo cycle training. Perhaps new cycles could be sold with some written guidance, a copy of the Highway Code, and the option for training at a reduced price. Surely this is not beyond the scope of the larger cycle providers. However, it is also important that if as a nation we are encouraging modal shift to cycling and walking, that driving lessons and the driving test reflect the responsibility of the motorist to other road users, particularly cyclists, walkers and equestrians.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #6

It is true that some cyclists - of all ages - put themselves in danger by not wearing bright colours or a helmet or by bad cycling. But I don't agree with the proposal for compulsory training. As has been pointed out already, it would be very difficult to enforce, and councils, schools and voluntary groups currently provide training in various ways.

It would be interesting to find out from accident statistics how many accidents involving cyclists were the fault of the cyclist, and how many the fault of the motorist. I have the impression that many motorists regard cyclists as a nuisance and don't respect them as road users.

My suggestions are:
1. Make sure that the training for learner drivers emphasises treating cyclists with respect.
2. Pay careful attention to the design of roads & cycle tracks so that risks to cyclists are minimised.
3. Publish town / city maps showing safe cycle routes, including roads as well as dedicated cycle tracks. (And use the maps to inform discussion of where improvements are needed!)

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #7

On the attached question, LB Ealing can talk about how to reduce danger to
cyclists: this will obviously be opposed to anything like mandatory training or helmet use - I'm sorry that anybody feels this is appropriate to consider in the first place. Hopefully that is why only 4 people have responded.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #8

Edward Glennie wrote:
It is true that some cyclists - of all ages - put themselves in danger by not wearing bright colours or a helmet.....


Everything else you wrote is true. But this? This is what I'm talking about. Cyclists do not 'put themselves in danger by not wearing bright colours and helmets' any more than bollards or lamp-posts do. You're making the common mistake of apportioning responsibility for the danger posed to cyclist by drivers onto cyclsts. For a start off cyclists don't need to wear helmets any more than drivers or pedestrians need helmets to protect them from head injury. And there is no legal requirement to wear HiViz.

Don't re-dress the victim - address the danger!

The usual analogy applies: If someone was to start letting off live rounds in the street we wouldn't dream of suggesting that everyone within range don a bulletproof vest. We'd remove the gun toting madman, remove him from his weapon and lock him up.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #9

Many people would like to cycle for local journeys, this would be good for their health & their enjoyment. It would reduce congestion & reduce pollution. Ultimately it would also save money, as providing cycling facilities is a lot cheaper than providing or motorists.
To encourage people to cycle they will need to feel they are in a safe environment. Although generally cycling is safe, on many journeys a cyclist will pass several dangerous places eg. roundabouts, junctions, narrow parts of the road. These dangerous places need to be made safe.
It is very rare that a cyclist will cause death or serious injury to other road users, but drivers of motorised vehicles are in control of a potential killing machine, they need to be competent & conscious of all other road users.
Many cyclists are also motorists, and most motorists do show consideration to cyclists. Vast amount of money are spent on improving roads for vehicles, but relatively little is spent for the benefit of cyclist, pedestrians & disabled people. We need safer cycling routes to encourage more cycling & a better environment for all.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #10

Promotion of cycling is very varied across the UK. Promotion of cycling is not just about the benefit to the environment but to the individual. Active travel is a fantastic way of incorporating exercise into the daily routine. It is a fast, direct, low cost, independent way of travel. Education of both cyclist and motorists could lead to improvements in safety. We have all no doubt seen both bad driving and bad cycling and therefore targeted campaigns focused at both conflicting groups of road users could be an approach to target this.

As for the topic of helmets, again the evidence varies which is confusing. What is clear though is that there are new and innovative approaches in tackling all issues in transport field and this is no exception as this link shows techcrunch.com/2012/08/15/invisible-bike-helmet/

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #11

It is universally accepted that cycling patronage in the UK will continue to increase, and for a variety of well known reasons and benefits. What is unacceptable however is the notion that this will inevitably lead to a long term trend increase in cycling casualties. It will only be inevitable if we fail to address this emerging issue now.

Making improvements to the cycling infrastructure is already high on the agenda of Local Authorities and funding streams are becoming more readily available. However, the biggest obstacle to overcome, in my opinion, is one of culture and mind set where our motoring public is not particularly skilled, or instinctively attuned, to sharing road space with cyclists. We can introduce as many hard safety measures as we like but the human behavioural factor continues to be a key element in the vast majority of personal injury collisions.

Perhaps the solution already lies elsewhere and may shortcut the necessity for us to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Having had long conversations with Dutch road safety colleagues it is clearly apparent that they have many areas of best practice from which we can learn. Cycling is ingrained within their national subconscious and their road safety record has consistently been one of the best in Europe. There are also many other areas of best practice across Europe from which we could easily develop strategies and move us away from the flawed attitude in the UK, that we have a monopoly over all the good ideas.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #12

Following a conversation with a delegate who will be in attendance at the forthcoming conference on Sustainable Transport and wishes to remain anonymous, I was supplied this response:

While I appreciate the many benefits to cycling and am a regular cyclist (but like many others also a car driver, pedestrian and public transport user), in my experience through talking to hundreds of commuters and those responsible for implementing sustainable travel initiatives in the workplace, there are many real and perceived barriers to cycling. As such, we have a responsibility to overcome these barriers to promote and encourage cycling in all of its forms. Mandatory training and testing will benefit those new to cycling, with many adults potentially not riding a bicycle since their teens gaining confidence to successfully negotiate today's environment, but what may be of great benefit to some may be a particular barrier to others.

Mandatory training does not necessarily mean the environment for cyclists is safer, just that the responsibility is placed on the cyclist to remain safe, negating the importance of education, enforcement and appropriate engineering of the road space for all users to ensure whoever and whatever travel mode they use is as safe as can be. Those that wish cycling training are already able to access appropriate courses given by qualified and committed trainers; in my area we even pay for some of these courses - plus others including maintenance training and Dr Bike health checks - to ensure that those that feel more comfortable after having appropriate training can receive it at little or no expense to them. Mandatory training suggests duplicating some of the excellent work that is already taking place in schools and elsewhere and may be part of the solution but is in no way close to the complete one. Barriers remain barriers whether they are real or perceived.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #13

In my opinion, making training and testing available is a good idea; but by being mandatory, it introduces barriers to people cycling, and puts an emphasis on safety purely with the cyclist, which is just one of a group of road users. This gives people a reason NOT to take up cycling, which is not desirable. What is needed is promotion of cycling training schemes, and steps to remove any perceived negative connotations it has – a change in attitudes, amongst cyclists and non-cyclists alike, to encourage better take up of these schemes. Mandatory testing is similar to saying that roads are only for motorised vehicles and paints cyclists as a unwelcome “guest” on the roads.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #14

No because as cycling numbers go up, individual cyclists become numerically safer as demonstrated in Copenhagen. When cyclists cycle in long streams especially during commuter hours in inner London boroughs, motorists are very aware of the presence and take extra care. Additional cyclists on the road allow local politicians let officers make better provision for cyclists sometimes at the expense of motorists and residents parking.

Re: Are we promoting cycling to benefit the environment but neglecting cyclist safety? #15

Compulsory training is a bad idea as is compulsory helmet wearing as there is overwhelming evidence that both approaches deter people from cycling. That is not to say that people should not wear helmets or take training but that it is up to the individual to decide. We need people cycling in order to address congestion, helath, climate change and economic issues and so climber cities should not risk alienating existing cyclists. In well established cycling cities, cyclists feel little need to wear protection and there is much more compliance with road rules and so, behaviourly at least, I prefer to take the dutch view that if people are doing "the wrong" thing it is because it is easier and more conveniant than doing the "right thing". If we continue reallocating road space and thinking of the specific needs of cyclists in every highway scheme we design then cyclist behaviour will improve as they will no longer feel victimised by oppressive highway networks designed solely for motorised traffic.
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