As you may have noticed, the Road Danger Reduction Forum website was hacked into and compromised a few days ago. We are getting it back together and hope to return shortly with a more secure and better site – please bear with us while we do! UPDATE: 27th April: Our site is being revamped and normal service is beingr esuled..Don’t forget the Big Bike Ride in London on April 28th (or its Edinburgh equivalent)
Alright, now that Transport Minister Philip Hammond has repeated his claim that he would reverse New Labour’s “war on the motorist”, it really is time to comment on what is nothing less than an inversion of reality. Seasoned campaigners and hardened professionals alike were gob-smacked when he first mentioned this phrase. But as – we hope – polite professionals who work, one way or another, with Government, we desisted from saying what first came to mind.
But now we are prompted by a rather good Editorial in the 2nd September Guardian which leads: “Unthinkable? Declaring war on motorists: When the transport secretary said ‘We will end the war on motorists’, the obvious question was: what war on motorists? Regrettably, the article restricts itself to suggesting the subsidising of public transport, but does at least refer to the reduced cost of motoring brought in by the previous Government.
Of course, in a sense there has been a “war on motorists”: a continuation of unnecessary levels of danger on the road which many motorists are prepared to oppose and from which they may suffer.
Many would like to have a greater option for themselves and their families to use more sustainable transport and to have more people-friendly communities. They might not want scarce public money to be squandered on road building, or the damage to public health and the local and global environment from current levels of car use. Although they may be a minority of the motoring public, they are still motorists and want a more civilised, less car-centred society: they have had a war against them.But that’s not what the Minster is talking about. So perhaps the following could be pointed out – and they really are just a few parts of the story:
These are a few points which could be brought to the attention of the Minister. As with so much in transport policy and road safety, what we have is not so much a mistake as – this needs to be repeated – an inversion of reality.
Transport professionals can spend too much time debating among themselves in the specialist transport press .
So RDRF Chair Dr. Robert Davis thought it time to give some support to the columnist “Hedgehog” in the mass circulation Private Eye. “Hedgehog” had been opposing proposed cuts in speed cameras and pointed out, among other things, that existing criteria for installation are far slacker than those required in safety regimes other than those of “road safety”. Unusually for a mass publication, he has also raised the central RDR issue of low cycling and walking casualty numbers often being associated with more, not less, danger on the road deterring walking and cycling. This drew the wrath from the usual quarters, so here’s the reply: Continue reading
The RDRF has had a friendly enough relationship with top transport commentator Christian Wolmar for some time – he gave the keynote speech at our Leicester conference way back in the 90s – although I’ve been disappointed that he’s stayed too far over in the “road safety”, as opposed to road danger reduction, camp.
But there’s no doubt about his latest piece for Transport Times http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2010/09/norman-save-cycling-money/ where he is absolutely spot on in opposing any threat to the existence of Cycling England. Continue reading
Discussing what is or should be a “cycle route” is one of the more tedious (but necessary) parts of considering cycling as a mode of transport). All roads except motorways can be seen as “cycle routes”: if you want to use a bicycle to get from where you live to where you need to go, you have to use the public highway.
That said, there is a plausible case for engineering the highway to reduce danger and inconvenience for cyclists, so there is a need for engineering at particular dangerous or inconvenient locations for cyclists like large gyratory systems. Or a network of signed cycle routes. Or both. In fact, it is arguable that without doing anything special “for cyclists”, all roads should have danger to cyclists engineered out of them as much as possible as a matter of course.
So what has happened in London? Continue reading