REVIEW: “BIKE NATION: How Cycling Can Save the World” by Peter Walker

This book is “…above all, a story of hope”. Those of us with a cynical mindset might be put off by such optimism and the extravagant claim of the title. But don’t be: Peter Walker is more or less spot on in each chapter of a book which clearly argues for cycling as a key solution to urban transport, health, social and environmental problems. Indeed, it should be read by all professionals – as well as campaigners and the general public – with  an interest in transport policy, not just those who find themselves in a “cycling” niche. Continue reading

What kind of policing do we need?

We think road traffic law enforcement is a key element in potentially reducing danger on the roads. Whatever changes in highway and vehicle engineering occur, the safety of all road users will depend at least partly on how the law is enforced. Of course, what happens with sentencing is also key, but here we address the way the police operate. Most importantly, how the police behave should be seen as a central element of how society accepts or stigmatises behaviours.

Our view is that the attitudes of the police will at least partly reflect the prejudices of ordinary members of the public in what is a motor-centred society. We have criticised elements of policing in the past  and suggested ways in which it can be improved. In the worst cases we have argued that the response (or lack of it) to rule- or law-breaking driving makes this society “nothing less than fundamentally uncivilised”.   

But we have recently seen what appears to be a fundamental change in some police forces with the adoption of policing of close passing of cyclists .We will be monitoring and reporting on developments in this area. Most importantly, along with what happens with other elements of the legal system, we note that the way policing is done is a reflection of whether road danger is seen – as it would be in a civilised society – as the problem it is.

Below we comment on the good and the bad in police services at the beginning of 2017.

Continue reading

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017…

For us the highlight of 2016 – and indeed for a longer period – is the policing of close passing of cyclists by West Midlands police , to be followed by similar policing by Camden MPS, and our award recognising this work. While, in itself, the enforcement exercise of “Give Space: Be Safe” won’t make a difference for the average cyclist in the UK, it is noteworthy for a number of reasons.  As we say in the post, this policing recognises:

(a)  The fundamental difference in the effects on others of errant behaviour  by drivers on the one hand and cyclists on the other, and accordingly focusing on the driver misbehaviour.

(b)  That behaviour which is intimidatory and deters potential cyclists from cycling – in this case close passing/overtaking – is worth addressing even if it is not just linked to causation of Killed and Seriously Injured casualties.

In other words, both approaches take a “harm-reduction” – or as we would say, danger reduction – approach. The award event at the House of Lords was packed out by campaigners, transport professionals and police officers. Cycling UK have referred to “Give Space: Be Safe” as “the best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever”

Continue reading

A new dawn in policing to prevent danger to cyclists? The RDRF award to West Midlands Traffic Police

dscf4311

 

On November 15th there was a ground-breaking event: The Road Danger Reduction Forum gave its first ever award since inception in 1994. More importantly, the award – to West Midlands Police for their “Give Space: Be Safe” operation targeting close passing of cyclists by drivers – heralds (we hope) an exciting new approach by police services towards danger to cyclists. As well as WMTP, we heard from Camden Metropolitan Police Service on their operation based on the WMTP initiative. Both are characterised by recognising:

(a)  The fundamental difference in the effects on others of errant behaviour  by drivers on the one hand and cyclists on the other, and accordingly focusing on the driver misbehaviour.

(b)  That behaviour which is intimidatory and deters potential cyclists from cycling – in this case close passing/overtaking – is worth addressing even if it is not the biggest cause of Killed and Seriously Injured casualties.

In other words, both approaches take a “harm-reduction” – or as we would say, danger reduction – approach. The award event at the House of Lords was packed out by campaigners, transport professionals and police officers. Cycling UK have referred to “Give Space: Be Safe” as “the best cyclist safety initiative by any police force, ever”

Below I try to describe some of what seem to me to be the key features of a crowded two- hour event: the two policing initiatives and some of the points raised in discussion.

You can see the WMTP in action on this extract from “The One Show” (alert: you have Phil Collins being a prat at the end of the extract) and read accounts in the press of “Give Space: Be Safe” (GSBS) here  . You can read an account of the Camden MPS policing here . Also take a look at the in-depth discussion by Bez

 

Continue reading

On Formula One drivers telling children to wear hi-viz

I have tweeted about the current campaign by the FIA (the international motorists’ organisation) using Formula One racing drivers to tell children to wear hi-viz clothing when walking. It’s had a lot of re-tweeting and comments, not least directed at practitioners with a road safety remit . For some of us, this is just a matter of sighing that “you couldn’t make it up”. Others have argued that there is no evidence that campaigns like this will actually protect children. For many this is just a seasonal irritation – or even a partially useful intervention – to be accepted while we try to get on with the business of real road safety – reducing danger at source.

But we believe that this kind of intervention tells us a lot about what is going wrong – and what needs to change – if we are to have a civilised approach to road safety.

stay-bright-button

Formula One racer Jenson Button

Continue reading