The previous post has had more views than any other in our history. We have received significant support for its content in comments and on Twitter, and also – as one must expect in the age of social media – abuse and insult. Although readers will judge for themselves, it is striking how the insults have been based on a lack of evidence and – above all – misreading of what the piece was about.
So, to repudiate the insults, let’s clarify what the piece was – and more importantly was not – about. We can then move on to an assessment of where we are now after an extraordinary week.
One million wing-mirror stickers are being sent out by the AA to remind drivers to watch out for two-wheelers on the road. The campaign is based on a poll for the AA showing that nine out of ten motorists admit that when driving, “it is sometimes hard to see cyclists”, with 55 percent of motorists claiming that they are often “surprised when a cyclist appears from nowhere.” It’s nice to see AA president Edmund King say that: “The AA Think Bikes campaign is definitely needed when half of drivers are often surprised when a cyclist or motorcyclist ‘appears from nowhere’. Those on two wheels never appear from nowhere (our emphasis) so as drivers we need to be more alert to other road users and this is where our stickers act as a daily reminder”.
So is this an unequivocal step forward? The main feature of this, as with so many other similar campaigns, is what it tells us about the beliefs underlying what passes for “road safety” – beliefs which we have to challenge.
So let’s take a look at the campaign and what underlies it in some detail: Continue reading →
Photos: Norman Baker MP; Mike Pennington MP; Addison Lee’s Mr Griffin with staff: (DfT; Daily Telegraph; Cyclists in the City)
Above are the two Government Ministers responsible for cycling and road safety and the Chairman of Addison Lee (with members of his staff). They all claim to be concerned for the safety of cyclists: indeed all have signed up to The Times campaign.
It may seem unfair to link the author of a tirade against cyclists with elected politicians nominally committed to supporting cycling. But I think it is there. Essentially all three start off with assumption that cyclists are “vulnerable road users” – so-called because they are outside motor vehicles when travelling, as is most of humanity – and are a problem because of this. Continue reading →
This book, one of the main sources of evidence for the road danger reduction approach, is now out of print. A few copies are available from the author. Here are what reviewers have said: Continue reading →
The Automobile Association (and the other organisation for irresponsible motorists, the Royal Automobile Club) has a long history being part of danger on the road. Take a look at this clip to show how it proudly flouted road traffic law:This Motoring . The current, particularly grotesque, example of the AA offloading its responsibilities on to the actual or potential victims of rule and law breaking by AA members (and other motorists protected from proper regulation and controls by the AAs refusal to support real road safety)
The latest episode is simply part of this tradition. Of course, it is par for the course in a world where “road safety” is often about victim-blaming and avoiding motorist responsibility, despite lack of evidence for supposed benefits: it can be telling your potential victims to get out of the way – for their own good, of course. But that’s no reason to accept this nonsense, as it is part and parcel of maintaining unacceptable levels of danger on the road. Continue reading →
Previous posts have described the record of Transport for London and the Greater London Authority under Mayors Livingstone and Johnson with regard to cycling. Whatever the verdict on this record is, there is one two-wheeler group that has done well in London since 2000 – motorcyclists. Motorcyclists have profited from virtually unhindered access to supposedly cycle-specific facilties such as Advanced Stop Lines and cycle gaps in road closures. Press attention is drawn to pedestrians killed in collisons with cyclists, but not the larger number in incidents involving motorcyclists. While cycling is persistently portrayed as hazardous, motorcycling – with far higher casualty rates – is not.
TfL’s pro-motorcycling agenda is shown up well in the saga of allowing motorcyclists into bus lanes. While the details may tend to bore all but the most hardened transport professional, this episode tells us a lot about how some road user groups can get their way, irrespective of the evidence supposedly required to justify legal changes. Time and again we can see in the history “road safety” how a safety benefit is consumed as a performance benefit. In this case it is even dubious whether any safety benefit for the measure taken has ever existed: we simply move to the performance benefit (of motorcyclists having extra road space) while using “road safety” as a justification.