Miscellaneous Politics

Cyclists are dying and we need to act, and fast

A few years ago, I posted about the dangers of various forms of transport, cycling included. We’re in the midsts of a cycling meltdown, and in the interim, I’ve had an accident and broken my leg (though not as a result of another vehicle).

I’m about to get back on my bike, while everyone around me fears for my safety, and is trying to persuade me otherwise. Just as I’m about to do so, we have death after death, and I’ve decided I need to voice myself and my opinion. You’re not reading this because you thought I’d just say a few things and bugger off, did you?

Firstly, the deaths appear to have been (and I wasn’t there, so I can’t be certain) caused as a result of large vehicles and their blind spots. So lets dissect that a little, and see where we end up.

Should the lorries have seen the cyclists? Possibly, it’s hard to tell. That said, lorries should all (and I think most do now) have large additional blindspot mirrors. I certainly notice them riding around London on my scooter. I don’t see so many on busses, but I may be mistaken there too. That will dramatically reduce the likelihood, as long as the driver bothers to look, of there being a cyclist.

Of the cyclists; my friends are probably tired of me repeating ad infinitum that cyclists:

  1. shouldn’t jump red lights
  2. shouldn’t ride on the inside of vehicles, particularly large ones
  3. should pay more attention to the intentions of other road users

Some cyclists are great, whilst others are a menace, and that goes for all road users. I won’t turn a corner on my scooter without physically looking to the side I’m turning in case another vehicle has decided it’s safe to overtake me. I’m sure that not all road users are as diligent. On both sides of this particular argument, I might add.

How do we fix it? Once again, I think anyone taking a test in a motor vehicle should have to spend time on two wheels to physically demonstrate how vulnerable those people are. It makes a huge difference to the way you drive having been in the position of having vehicles turn in on you, cut you up and various other almost disastrous manoeuvres.

On the flip side, cyclists need better educating. I’m repeating again, but don’t jump red lights and don’t undertake large vehicles at junctions. I’m finding it really hard to find a single source of blame here, and I think the Mayor of London is right to expect that all road users abide by the rules of the road. It’s there for a reason, and if it wasn’t, imagine how many cars would have piled up at that very roundabout otherwise.

I’ve been cycling on the road now for 20 years, have a cycling proficiency under my belt since I started, and now have a UK car licence and motorcycle licence to add to that. I’m hopefully soon to have a UK private pilots licence too, so you might call me a licence whore, but I truly believe that they’re there for our own good and our own safety, and they should be repeated over time.

So to anyone thinking about blaming one side of this debate, don’t. It’s everyone’s fault. If you’re a cyclist reading this, and you jump red lights, then shame on you. Even if you’re one of my closest friends. I’d rather you didn’t, and I’d rather you stayed alive. If you’re a car, van, bus or lorry driver, I strongly suggest you spend a day on the roads on your bike. See how you feel afterwards about drivers that don’t indicate or look before turning or changing lanes. You’ll see exactly what I mean. If you’re too scared, good. You bloody well should be.