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”
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.
Formula One racer Jenson Button
Our last post is one of the most well-read and commented on since www.rdrf.org.uk went live, with particular support on social media from supporters of cycling and sustainable transport. We’re aware that many people with good intentions feel that supporting Road Safety Week (RSW) is worthwhile. We don’t. As I concluded after a debate with Brake at the end of the post:
“…a generally “fluffy” approach appealing to people to try to be nice if they feel like it is exactly what has not worked to reduce danger on the roads – whatever the feelings of people involved (and I should add that these feelings are frequently highly commendable). Wanting people to be less dangerous and telling this to whoever wants to listen is not only not enough, unless you address important obstacles – often represented by your partners – it can become part of the problem.”
Brake initially responded by accusing us of insulting those bereaved by road crashes – which we strongly deny and bitterly resent – and then took the trouble to engage in responses to our concerns. We’re happy to continue the debate. To repeat: “I raise these issues because I hope they can assist people in developing and supporting programmes for road danger reduction: real road safety, Safer Roads for All.” Continue reading
What could be wrong with a campaign like this?. Well, quite a lot actually… Continue reading
Earlier this year the RDRF responded to Transport for London’s Draft Cycle Safety Action Plan (CSAP) here and here .
I argued then that: “The draft CSAP is a fundamentally flawed document which fails in three main respects. Firstly, its idea of “safety” for cyclists is measured in a way which can indicate that having fewer cyclists and a higher cyclist casualty rate is BETTER than having more cyclists and a lower casualty rate. Secondly, it fails to differentiate between measures which reduce danger to cyclists (and other road users) and those which do not. Thirdly, it has no real way of assessing the effects of measures implemented.”
The new CSAP is now out . Apart from some typographical differences, there are only two noticeable changes. One of these changes seems to be simply cosmetic, the other could potentially have an effect, but I suggest is unlikely to. (So much for the effects of consultation). I discuss these changes below along with general comments: if these seem the same as before it’s because (apart from the two changes) the criticisms remain the same. So: Continue reading
Although the image below is a bit difficult to make out (the original is here), we reproduce it and take some time to examine its message as delivered by the “South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership” (SYSRP) . It is typical of why official “road safety” – as opposed to the real road safety of road danger reduction – is part of the problem of danger on the roads and discrimination against cycling and sustainable transport.
From Halfords cycle2work leaflet
Halfords, as well as being a large car parts and servicing business, is a major cycle retail business and operates a “Cycle to Work” government approved initiative to enable employees to use a bike and accessories to cycle to work. We think the extract from their “cycle2work” leaflet sends out the wrong message about cycling. Here’s why: Continue reading
If you cycle in London, you’ve almost certainly seen these yellow stickers over the last few months. They’re on the back of most buses, many vans, and a few HGVs.
What can they mean?
“Cyclists stay back – I get priority as I pay road tax / am bigger / faster / more important than you“?
“Cyclists stay back – I can’t be bothered to check my mirrors before turning, stopping or pulling out, so if I run into you it’s your fault“?
Most people reading this will know that there’s a major safety issue for cyclists and pedestrians that HGV drivers can’t see all round their vehicles, and often drive into roadspace without knowing if anyone is already in it. As a result, around 50% of cyclist fatalities in London involve HGVs. (This is often referred to as the “blindspot” issue)
But what does that have to do with vans and buses? And how many of those seeing the sign on a van or bus make the connection? Continue reading
Harry Venning of the Guardian’s take on the “blitz” in “Clare in the Community”
After a spate of cyclist deaths in London, cyclist safety is on the national agenda. For some, getting cyclist safety in the public eye is inherently good – we’re not so sure. The key issue is, after all, to do the right things for the safety of cyclists. Last week we were told that there is a “new zero-tolerance approach” with a “huge escalation” in policing involving “stopping lorries and cars and where there is unsafe driving they will be taken off the road.”
But is a blitz on unsafe driving – under what is called “Operation Safeway” in London – actually happening? We don’t think so. So what exactly is going on? Continue reading
After a week where cyclist safety in London has hit the headlines, it might seem strange to look at this issue. I was pleased to represent the RDRF at the Bow roundabout protest organised by the London Cycling Campaign addressing issues about danger to cyclists and pedestrians there.
Spot the RDRF Chair at Bow roundabout protest (Photo London Cycling Campaign)
But actually the comments by the Commissioner of Transport for London on this subject – bike lights, that is – tell us a lot about the way “road safety” is thought of. Here are his comments: Continue reading