British Cyclists: The horrifying missing concern

So I have been controversial in a couple of recent posts How to not attract people to cycling and How I insulted and scared cyclists all over the country.

That is nothing compared to the anger I feel tonight after what I have noticed in the responses through comments here and elsewhere.

I have been criticised by many cyclists over my supposed surrender of the right to ride on the road (a claim that does not fit with what I said).

But there is a huge problem.

I have not seen even one cyclist who has argued  to protect their right to cycle on the roads express any concern at all for the children killed on the roads. British roads are the single largest external cause of death of children (nearly 50%) and all these cyclists have totally ignored this.

It seems the freedom of an existing (probably male) cyclist to ride their bike along the A50 is so vital that they have no concern left over for the children killed on our roads.

Our friends in the Netherlands have reminded us that the main reason for the change of policies away from cars and towards bikes and walking in the 1970’s was national outrage at the numbers of children being killed on the roads. The statistics show clearly that since then the Netherlands has seen a far greater reduction than the UK in the numbers of children killed on the roads.

Yet British cyclists seem not to care at all about the children being killed on our roads. Remember not one cyclist who expressed concern at losing their right to ride on the road commented on the death toll of our children. Not one person!

I am horrified. and very angry indeed. Get off your bloody high horses about your rights to freedom on the roads and start focusing on the destruction of life, on the children who are killed because we will not stand up for them and their right to live.

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  1. I’m with Dave.

    There are the rights of a tiny handful of blokes who want to spend their Saturday afternoons racing around on dual carriageways.

    And there are the rights of the millions of people who want to ride their bicycles to work and school and the shops in safe and inviting conditions.

    The denial of the former their rights is a hypothetical fear. The denial of the latter their rights is a current, ongoing, and outrageous scandal. It is one of several current ongoing outrageous scandals in politics that need urgent attention. In these circumstances, hypothetical fears are rather a waste of time when some of us are trying to work on real issues.

  2. I’m with Dave42w.

    Anyone who read your post about the presentation:
    Roads, Casualties and Public Health: the Open Sewers of the 21st Century, and watched it.
    Would realise that in the UK, motor-vehicles selectively kill the children of the poor and are a major preventable cause of death of children and young adults. While millions are spent in fighting cancer and other diseases of the young, virtually nothing is said about or spent on reducing the largest preventable cause of deaths of children and young adults as cyclists or pedestrians. This has to change.
    I first heard concerns about the appalling toll of child victims from David Hembrow, who mentioned that this was an important factor in the massive drive in 1973 by a pressure group to pressurise the Dutch Government to reduce child road casualties, this resulted in money being made available for cycle paths and reversing the declining trend in cycling and led to the state of cycling in the Netherlands we see today.
    Stop the Child Murder
    David Hembrow also mentioned the UK is 21st [bottom!] in UNICEF’s Child Well-Being Table, where the first four are Netherlands, Sweden Denmark & Finland.
    All those myths and excuses in one post

    Strategies that reduce child road casualties are vitally important and they will restrict the rights and freedom of people to operate dangerous machinery in close proximity to pedestrians and cyclists, and rightly so. The freedom for callous motorists that casually murder children with motor-vehicles on the roads has to stop!

  3. No none seems to have mentioned how it feels to ride hostile, aggressive roads with children on your bike either and the astounding lack of respect that motorists have around bikes even when there are children on board plain to see.

    I regularly travel with my two children on my bike and for reasons of speed capabilities and manoeuvrability with the added weight and bulk I breath a sigh of relief when I reach a protected path with them onboard. That and the fact we can actually hear each other to talk to one another when we’re further from cars. Perceived safety and a pleasant experience are not to be ignored. The lack of both are something that stops a lot of people I know from using bikes with kids or letting family members ride, or at least leave them with very limited options for where and when they feel they can use bikes. And that’s a form of self regulated ban from many roads without the government needing to do anything to impose any rules against cyclists.

    I rode in Germany (Berlin) a bit last year and loved it. I can honestly say there was not one moment where I felt like I didn’t want to use the cycle paths. And their standards are not even as high as other countries examples. As far as I know there is an obligation to use cycle facilities if provided over there unless you can prove it’s unsafe or unreasonable to do so. If we had a similar approach here then there would be no need to worry about being forced to use inferior facilities as there’s be reasons to not have to use them. And the facilities that are up to standard are desirable to use anyway instead of adjacent roads. Germany also only really seem to have segregated lanes on the larger roads too. Residential and smaller roads (where there’s not the room for separate lanes) are just designed to be calmer making walking and cycling a much better experience.

    That said, I think a lot of the success comes from the stricter liability rules they have. I had drivers give way to me a lot on a bike and even had an apology from a white van man who came within a distance he felt was too close. He came within about 5 foot of my handlebars and apologised… for a distance that is considered normal here in the UK. A lot of that comes from social attitude, which is a problem in the UK. Non cyclists view of “cyclists” as a species is very strange in the UK.

  4. Why are you attacking your fellow travellers?

    For your information, the reason @amsterdamized tweeted the ‘Stop Child Murder’ campaign pix from the 1970s and 1980s is because I asked him for more info on ‘Stop der Kindermoord’. Preventing children dying on the roads is one of the ways that cyclists in the NL made the whole population sit up and take notice.

    Arguing for cycle paths for cyclists will cut little ice, but asking for road safety for ALL, is something that a lot of people would welcome, including pedestrian campaigns. I’ve always been in favour of a mass campaign for making roads safer. That’s why I campaign for ‘strict liability’ because it benefits cyclists as well as pedestrians.

    Also for your information, child deaths on the road has been an ongoing thread of mine on, as many of the CE of GB members will tell you, including @katsdekker, who was very moved by the Terry Jones fairy-tale quoted here:

    • Carlton,

      You appear to have taken this as a very personal attack, I am sorry about that, it was not written as such.

      As my post made clear this was a response to the comments on my posts here and the responses to my posts elsewhere. It does not claim to be some great work of research into history.

  5. “Yet British cyclists seem not to care at all about the children being killed on our roads.”

    I think that remark is a little crass to be honest.

    The point being made about the A50 stems from the simple fact that cyclists are killed by cars not roads. There are certainly merits in giving cyclists paths, routes and options that take them away from traffic. But it dodges the issue that the traffic can be taken away from the cyclist without infrastructure but with simple changes in behaviour. A three foot gap achieves this and were it to become de-rigour then cyclists could even ride up the M6.

    There is this huge and invalid assumption that we cannot change behaviour. But we can, in the nineties I threw all of my cardboard into the bin. Now I put it in a recycling box. This behaviour was changed by media, opinion and facilitation. Attitudes to cyclists can be changed in that way as well, I don’t have the single answer, but I do know that sticking them in their own little private areas and making them dress like everyone else changes the attitude of the cyclist, not those who are killing them.

    • Dave,

      I think that remark is a little crass to be honest.

      Crass it may be. It reflects the comments made to me about my supposed attack on people’s freedom to ride on the road which consistently ignored issue of the children who are killed on the roads.

  6. Dave,

    Whilst I don’t personally completely agree with the slightly tabloid-esque tone of this piece, I agree with the sentiment that by obsessing over the belief that segregated infrastructure will definitely lead to the banning of cyclists from high-speed A roads, some cyclists and cycle campaigns are denying the average person the De facto right to ride on these roads, a right which can only realistically be restored by segregated infrastructure. It brings to mind Sir Humprey’s regular use of the “Thin end of the wedge,” argument in “Yes, Minister”. The end result being that nothing changes (or in this context, the current trend of decline continues unabated).

  7. I’m interested to know how many of the 50% were killed while riding bikes on the road? Or were the majority killed while crossing the road on their way to/from school?

    • Euan,

      The largest number are killed as passengers in cars, then as pedestrians and then as cyclists. This is a big picture and the way it is trivialised is worrying.

      Increasing the modal share of cycling (which will only happen significantly through quality infrastructure) saves lives not just of existing cyclists but makes it safe for pedestrians and gets kids out of cars which are dangerous for them and for others.

  8. I don’t really understand: are you saying that because people are angry about their cycling rights being eroded that they can’t also be angry about children being killed? Because that doesn’t really make any sense. To say “children are being killed on our roads at an alarming rate” in response to an MP’s proposal to ban bikes from a stretch of A road doesn’t really make any sense either. You say, “I have not seen even one cyclist who has argued to protect their right to cycle on the roads express any concern at all for the children killed on the roads”, but I’d counter that’s mostly because you haven’t looked very hard.

    • roadccDave,

      Have you read the comments on my previous post? Clearly the comments here being that much more “local” have a significant impact on my writing. However, I have also read the comments on your site.

      The “road cycling lobby” focused entirely on lycra (yes I know it was not very funny and upset people, but I have already apologised for that”) and on my supposed campaign to get cyclists banned from the roads. They totally ignored in any of the comments here or responses on twitter the issue of making it safe for children, parents etc to ride bikes for transport.

      Please actually read what I have written and the response. Stop believing the hyperbolic claims about surrender and so on. I have not said I support banning cyclists from the road. I have said that when you have a Dutch style cycle infrastructure a ban is irrelevant.

      If road cyclists want me to think they care then stop attacking me for what I didn’t say and start saying that you want to make transport safe for them. There are 3 posts here on the subject. You could set an example of a “road cyclist” saying that making it safe for children is more important than your freedom.

      Off now, back to work.

  9. I don’t get the logic of this article.

    I cycle. I commute by bike, I shop by bike, I spend some of my leisure time on my bike going places, its how I travel.

    I’m concerned about how many people are killed on the roads, children especially, but also adults.

    I’m concerned that the reaction to a road being dangerous is to suggest that cyclists should be banned from using it; I think thats inappropriate. Were, say, child passenger killed in a car accident there, would we see calls to ban cars?

    It isn’t cyclists who are bringing risk in this scenario, it is motorists. And to exclude cyclists because we can’t make others act safely is rather depressing; by all means campaign for safer routes, I support you in that goal, but that doesn’t mean that I agree that it is appropriate to stop cyclists using that particular road, nor does it mean that I have any les concern for cycling safety than you do. Why should it?

    • Cab,

      I’m concerned that the reaction to a road being dangerous is to suggest that cyclists should be banned from using it; I think thats inappropriate. Were, say, child passenger killed in a car accident there, would we see calls to ban cars?

      Just checking what you mean here and how you have understood me.

      Despite some claims I do not and have not supported banning cyclists from roads. My concern is that when I wrote about needing a safer and quality infrastructure because children are being killed a number of people ignored the children being killed element and accused me of trying to get them banned from riding on the road.

      When someone responds to a post about saving lives with a demand that instead it be all about saving their freedom to ride on the road then yes I absolutely do think they are showing less concern for cycling safety. If people want me to believe that safety for children is important then they can easily show it in their responses.

  10. I’m concerned, very concerned, that some people seem to be offering you some support here, Dave.

    No cycling bloggers or tweeters or commenters would ever, ever condone the death of children for their “right to ride on busy roads”. If I hadn’t seen your words with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed a fellow cyclist could say something about his fellows. As you’re a Methodist minister, I’m surprised at your apparent lack of Christian grace.

    To be angry about child deaths is right and proper, we all share that anger, but don’t use your desire for obligatory cycle path use blind you to the fact that cycling, to coin a phrase, is a broad church. Not all cyclists want to give away their rights to ride on the routes of their choosing.

    I have three young children and I worry about them constantly when they cycle to school on roads but segregated cycle paths would be many years away and would not protect my children at every stage of their journey (NL has many tens of thousands of more roads than it has cyclepaths). I want them to be safe now, not in twenty years time. So I campaign for road safety in the here and now, not in a Utopia.

    @markbikeslondon said your posting was “thought-provoking” but that it shouldn’t be seen as official policy of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain.

    However, other founder members of the CE of GB are starting to agree with this posting of yours, via Twitter and on this page.

    I find that troubling.

    If your fellow members of the CE of GB aren’t similarly troubled by your extreme views, and if they don’t, in fact, find them extreme at all, I really can’t see how the CE of GB is going to be able to take the message of cycling out to a mainstream audience.

    We should be campaigning for road safety as a cohesive whole, and joined together with orgs such as Roadpeace and the Pedestrians’ Association.

    The Dutch ‘Stop Child Murder’ campaign of the 70s and 80s was effective because, although founded by cyclists, it quickly became a general movement, arguing for general road safety. Campaigning just for segregated routes for cyclists is too narrow, too introverted.

    Don’t hate on fellow cyclists; pick on the real killers: motorists.

  11. Sub-cultures are rarely very concerned about anyone but themselves.

  12. “Sub-cultures are rarely very concerned about anyone but themselves.”

    Quite right. And Cycling Embassy of GB is a perfect example of a sub-culture only caring for itself i.e. *Cycling* Embassy of GB.

    There’s talk in the draft manifesto of aligning with a whole load of groups – from Mumsnet to the Association of Chief Police Officers – but it will be very difficult to talk with pedestrian groups because cycle paths are for, er, cyclists.

    The draft manifesto also says pedestrians will welcome cycle paths because it takes away conflict from ‘shared use’ paths. I see no evidence of this in the UK. When I cycle on segregated routes – which I do lots, I’m in favour of them, remember (but want to use roads when I choose) – I find pedestrians all over them.

    Even when bike routes are covered in bright green tarmac and plastered with gert big bike symbols, pedestrians still walk along them, even when *their* segregated route is clear.

    The common enemy of cyclists and pedestrians, I hope we can all agree, is the unfettered use of heavy, fast, wasteful motor vehicles.

    When Dave, Freewheeler, Hate the Motorist, CE of GB, KarlonSea etc etc aim their barbs at motorists all is well with the world. When they turn on fellow travellers, for wearing helmets, for wearing “funny clothing”, for riding over 15mph, for choosing roads over sub-standard cycle paths, all is not well with the world.

    If members of the Cycling Embassy of GB don’t refrain from knocking cyclists, the organisation won’t gain widespread support.

  13. @Carlton

    Your interpretation of what I am reading (both here and elsewhere) is very different from mine, and I believe from the vast majority of other people reading the same posts.

    1) No-one appears to be supporting outright the idea of banning cyclists from any roads.
    2) Focussing on providing segregated infrastructure on main roads does not inherently lead to cyclists being banned from those roads. this has been seen both in The Netherlands (via your own communication with @Amsterdamize) and here, where segregated facilities (admittedly often of a crap quality) are provided for cyclists on some roads but there is no legal compulsion to use them, and the biggest legal precedent to date; the widespread provision of segregated pedestrian infrastructure (or pavements) which have yet to result in pedestrians being banned from using the roads.
    3) Obsessing about the hypothetical loss of the right to ride on the road whilst missing the bigger issue that the overwhelming vast majority of people do not feel safe cycling on our roads as they are. By inferring (albeit often indirectly) that those who want the cycling facilities which have delivered mass cycling in other similar countries are in the process giving-up the rights of cyclists to use the roads sets back the advancement of providing the facilities needed to give back those very roads and routes for the average person to cycle on.

    This kind of knee-jerk hyperbole is part of what prevents the vast majority of the general public ever knowing the simple joy of cycling to the paper shop, bakery or derelict building which used to be their library. I genuinely understand that you might fear that any change might end up making things even worse for cycling and for cyclists. But please don’t let that fear stand in the way of making things much, much better for them, as well as vastly boosting the rates of cycling.

    Not one person who is campaigning for cycle infrastructure mentions children dieing of AIDS in Africa. 

    The only point of contention is you support for the facilities to be compulsory. That you can’t see the consequences of this not just to “men in lycra’ but also to my children cycling to school certainly makes me worry about what will be sacrificed when council’s decide that sticking to the best practice is a bit hard so they revert to the dash of paint on the pavement.

    • The only point of contention is you support for the facilities to be compulsory.

      That might be the case if it were true. Try actually reading what I have written instead of how others have portrayed it, then react to that.

      • What you actually wrote, typos are yours:

        If we have a Dutch quality and style of infrastructure it doe snot bother me at all if it is a legal requirement to use a cycle facility.

        Perhaps it is time for you to read what you wrote before suggesting others have not.

        • Thank-you for proving my point.How can you possibly interpret my statement to mean I support making it compulsory to use cycle facilities. My sentence does not say that, it does not mean that and I don’t mean that. Please actually read it.

          • Assuming the “doe snot” is a typo and not a reference to female Deer with cold it clearly says you are not bothered if it is a legal requirement to use cycle facilities.
            You may wish you had not said it but that does not change the fact you did. So please stop trying to suggest people have not read things.
            I will now be popping of for a ride around Richmond Park and if I get hit by Doe Snot I will be blaming you for it;-)

          • Yes. Typing in a hurry so that I can try to respond personally to a backlog of comments.

            it clearly says you are not bothered if it is a legal requirement to use cycle facilities.

            First I have always said safe, quality Dutch style facilities not just facilities.

            Second, if we had safe quality Dutch style facilities I for one would not want to ride on a main road. That would be because the roads would then not be designed to have space for bikes, they would be much slower for bikes and far more dangerous. That is supported by what the Dutch cyclists are generally saying.

            Third, what I am saying is that as a priority my focus is getting cycling to have a significant modal share of all journeys, knowing that for this to happen we need a quality safe infrastructure and that the beneficial effects will include fewer children killed on the roads.

            Fourth, given the points above I am wholly against banning bikes from the road before we have a Dutch quality infrastructure. Afterwards I really don’t care very much.

            Despite my attempts to be clear on this you are still focused on wanting to paint me as the bad guy who wants to stop you cycling on the road and while you continue to be focused on your right to ride on the road. Instead I am pleading, stop focusing on your right to ride on the road and instead focus on what we need to do to get less children killed.

          • My concern is not about being banned from a particular road but that by stating that you are not bothered by that prospect you invite the legislation which in turn will actually prevent the quality facilities we all (for some value of all) want.
            I have very little faith that my local council will do anything more than the absolute minimum required in building infrastructure but I have every expectation that any law that said it was mandatory to use “Dutch quality and style of infrastructure” would be interpreted as “use any infrastructure” leading to more cases like Daniel Caddon’s, more abuse from motorists for being on their road.
            If councils can just slap a bit of paint on a pavement and that is mandatory to use that is not helping the children you want to save. All the evidence I see from around Britain supports this.
            That is why I think even offering the motoring lobby the idea that if there were good facilities for cyclists we could be banned from the road is dangerous. They will take your compromise, water it down and then not deliver the facilities.

            So it is not just the men in lycra who suffer but every cyclist including the the children you want to protect.

          • Chris,

            Please, please, please do not keep making the same point. You have been heard.

            Now please note some of the things that have been written in the many replies to you and others with your view point.

            Note that where we have clear standards for road transport they are followed (eg design and specification of motorways). The Dutch have strict standards for cycle infrastructure and they are kept to in the same way. We do not yet have such standards and so we have a cheap mess that is often useless and one of the results is that children die.

            Would you consider moving your debating position from “Dave is an idiot and I need to keep telling him that” to a consideration of what sort of cycle facilities would actually save lives and be something you would want to use. I am sure that is much less fun than attacking me but possibly rather more constructive as well.

        • If you want people to stop making the same point the best way to achieve that is to acknowledge that you understand the point rather than denigrating them by suggesting they have not read the replies.
          That won’t get you as many hits on your blog but would move the debate along.

          So moving on. How do you get these facilities built? You are going to need a lot of cash and even more political good will (another good reason to not bash existing cyclists just because they wear lycra).

          The starting point IMO would be to push at the opening door and that is in London where the Barclays hire scheme is achieving cycling numbers from exactly the people who would not usually ride a bike to get the political good will. Campaigning to get transport for London to actually deliver high quality infrastructure and then using that as an example to others.

          The point here is this is not a technical problem. It is a political one. Discussing what the infrastructure should look like is fun but unless there is a strategy to get the politicians to back it it will go nowhere.

          Since it is a political problem the concerns that have brought so much criticism to you are valid and deserve to be taken seriously.

          • It seems to me that this post is not a productive/helpful place to have a constructive debate. Your last sentence again indicates you are not ready for that.

            Let us adjourn here and start again another day.

          • This place is as good as any. The problem, as I said, is Political not technical so you have to deal with the politics. That includes the bits you don’t want to talk about.

            When only today we have Hove council wanting to remove cycle lanes to get better “traffic flow” you have to get to grips with what the councils will want to do with your proposals and that includes the bits you don’t want to hear. This is not a cycle lane that in anyway reaches the Dutch standard but apparently in Hove even that is more than can be stomached.

            Hence you need a strategy to deal with councils who don’t want to deliver anything like the infrastructure you and I want. Otherwise you will spend time on the back foot or being faced with unintended consequences.

            If you are not ready to debate it fine.

          • This place is as good as any.

            Actually it is not. Comment threads this long are clumsy and most people left a long time.

            I suggest you consider the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain as one possible useful place. Plenty of useful discussions on their forums with good work being done on pulling together lessons from other places as one example.

  15. I found Dave’s piece here though provoking. That is not to say I agree fully with it, nor, because it is written by a member of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain do I see it as being the policy of the Cycling Embassy. I think that is a distinction worth all of us remembering that here. By way of example, I know a member of the LCC who hates gay people (I mean REALLY hates them) He’s also involved with the cycling campaign. Now, I have issue with his stance about gay people but I also recognise that his thoughts about cycling are totally separate and worthy of consideration. In no way do I associate his thoughts about gay people as being somehow the manifesto of the LCC just because he is a member of that campaign. To think like that would be really silly, obviously.

    Carlton, above, says that all cyclists should stand for the same things, that is to say reduction of motor traffic. To an extent I agree, however I know plenty of cyclists who do not. I have a friend who is a cyclist who only ever rides track and frankly couldn’t give two hoots about motor reduction because it would impede on his ability to drive. You see, cyclists ARE a diverse bunch with many different needs and aims. Not all of them are as concerned with traffic reduction as much as Carlton would like. One hopes that there is solidarity between all two-wheeled users on certain issues, however it is important to recognise that along with solidarity comes diversity and there is plenty of scope for many thoughts – even radical thoughts – under the greater umbrella of ‘cycling’.

    Carlton is clearly upset about what Dave has written here, but Dave clearly has a strength of feeling about what he has written, else he wouldn’t have done so. That their views are very different is no bad thing, but trying to convince one another to think the same way is not really a productive use of anyone’s time. Doing so with false arguments, assumptions and finger-pointing, which seems to have been the order of the week all round, is even less so. Let’s not get into a ‘Thought Police’ trap of being upset simply because people have views different to our own. Yes, views may be radical, maybe even miss-informed, but that doesn’t stop a person from having those views, nor indeed the right to have them. In hand with this, we all have the right to agree or disagree with those views, too, but we shouldn’t presume to change someone else’s opinion simply because it is not in tune with our own.

    I would suggest that the constant toing and froing on Twitter and blogs that has been borne out online this week are, to be frank, a waste of most people’s time. What is clear is that two very different schools of thought about how we approach cycling has come about. Rather than spending all our time trying to convince one another who is right or who has the moral high ground, would it not be better if ‘we’ did our thing and ‘you’ did yours? (Note inverted commas) There are benefits in both approaches for all cyclists, so rather than spending our time arguing against one another over frankly irreconcilable differences would it not be better if we all each pursued our own agendas and got on with doing something beneficial for all? There will be plenty of opportunities when, under solidarity, we all pull together (mandatory helmet laws come to mind) and plenty of times when we will have the dignity of differing opinions (whether a certain road needs a cycle lane, for example). So enough of the Twitter-spat (new word of the day!) please.

    Okay, reconciliatory tone over… *GRR* *AAAARGH!* *SMASHES EVERYTHING!!!!* :o)

  16. “The only point of contention is you support for the facilities to be compulsory”

    Not true: my main point of contention here is that dave42w is claiming that I don’t care that children get killed on the UK’s roads, because I don’t support the banning of cyclists on the A50 due to a preventable death that was entirely down to driver error.

    dave42w doesn’t know me, and isn’t qualified to make that judgement about me. Or anyone else. He does his cause no favours at all with this kind of ridiculous sweeping generalisation.

    Personally I think it’s despicable that any children get killed at all, ever, under any circumstances. The numbers that get killed on the roads are shocking, more so because so many of the deaths are easily preventable. But they’re not being killed because a dangerous driver knocked an experienced cyclist off a dual carriageway, and stopping further experienced cyclists from riding the same dual carriageway won’t stop any children being killed. It’s just a stupid, pointless dig. It makes no sense at all. You want to campaign for segregated cycle lanes, you be my guest. You spout tangential crap like this and I’ll be cross. It’s pretty simple, really.

  17. “I know a member of the LCC who hates gay people (I mean REALLY hates them) He’s also involved with the cycling campaign. Now, I have issue with his stance about gay people but I also recognise that his thoughts about cycling are totally separate and worthy of consideration. In no way do I associate his thoughts about gay people as being somehow the manifesto of the LCC just because he is a member of that campaign. To think like that would be really silly, obviously”

    Interesting then that that’s *exactly* what dave42w is doing: saying that my opinions on one issue (the banning of cyclists on the A50) are invalid because of my opinions on another entirely unconnected issue (child deaths on UK roads). Even though he doesn’t actually know what my opinions on the second issue are.

    • raodccDave,

      Interesting then that that’s *exactly* what dave42w is doing: saying that my opinions on one issue (the banning of cyclists on the A50) are invalid because of my opinions on another entirely unconnected issue (child deaths on UK roads). Even though he doesn’t actually know what my opinions on the second issue are.

      Can I just point out that as far as I am concerned that is not *exactly* what I am doing.

      I am responding to the responses to my original post (in comments on my blog, on twitter and various places). The responses that angered me were responses to my saying that we needed a safe infrastructure to save children’s lives (plus lots of other benefits too) and the responses ignored that point and attacked me for saying cyclists should be banned from the road (which I did not say).

      Don’t take my response to the comments made here and about me elsewhere to be a general attack on people I have never heard of. The mention of the A50 was probably confusing, I am sorry about that. The people who made me angry did not specifically mention the A50 but were going on about their rights and ignoring what seemed to be the issue at the heart of my post.

      • “and the responses ignored that point and attacked me for saying cyclists should be banned from the road (which I did not say).”

        You didn’t say that Dave, but it is an unintended consequence of what you are proposing. When cycle faciliities are put in place, no matter how poor they are, motorists start harrassing cyclists who continue to exercise their right to ride on the road. Meanwhile Local Authorities, so proud of having increased their mileage of cycle facilities (looks good on their Local Transport Plan reports) either think about banning cyclists from the road, or increasing traffic speeds & introducing extra traffic lanes to make road cycling so dangerous and unpleasant as to be untenable. Segregated cycle facilities were invented by the Nazis to speed up motor traffic and have been used for that purpose ever since.

        (ref: )

        • You didn’t say that Dave, but it is an unintended consequence of what you are proposing.

          Maybe if people used language such as “unintended consequence” rather than saying I said something that I did not we might find communication easier. Although I still; don’t accept the logic.

          Motorists hassle cyclists anyway. I don’t feel safe with children riding a bike near anyone who has watched Top Gear (only just joking).

          Your comment about the Nazis just about invokes “Godwins Law”. The paper from Galway and your comment totally ignores the Dutch model as it is very hard to see that as using cycle facilities to speed up motor traffic.

          • I don’t think Godwin’s Law can be invoked in this case, because it is a historical fact that the Nazis invented segregated lanes. I don’t think that makes everyone who advocates them now a Nazi, although segregation as a concept does carry with it some unpleasant connotations.

          • wildnorthlands,

            Please see if you can dig deep and reconnect with your sense of humour.

            I can’t see how your point about the Nazis is at all relevant or helpful. Nobody here is suggesting that kind of segregation.

        • Let’s pick the easy things to defeat first: “Segregated cycle facilities were invented by the Nazis”. This is the sort of nonsense which a certain section of cycling campaigners seems to like to cling to. However, actually, the first cycle path in the Netherlands dates from 1885. Adolf Hitler was not born until 4 years later.

        • Explicitly mentioning “unintended consequence” would indeed make the discussion more constructive, I’d think, as it makes it clear when you’re entering the “my hyperbole is better than yours” territory. Hopefully to both sides.

  18. @roadccdave Sorry roadccDave maybe I didn’t make myself clear. What I was trying to illustrate there was the fool-hardyness of taking personal comments on certain issues and interpreting them as any kind of official campaign policy, which is an assumption that has been made somewhat unfairly by others in relation to the Cycling Embassy.

    In terms of your specific argument about 42wDave’s point about road safety I think you are perfectly valid to question him on this point and it is a separate issue worthy of discourse. But we shouldn’t make it out to anything bigger than it is (ie more than discussion about the finer points of approaches to road safety) as oppose to making it into a bigger argument about cycling campaigns and their priorities. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. All the best,


  19. “That is not to say I agree fully with it, nor, because it is written by a member of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain do I see it as being the policy of the Cycling Embassy. I think that is a distinction worth all of us remembering that here.”

    I welcome any and all form of conciliatory words, Mark. This debate needs more thought-through commentary. And this is why Dave’s inflammatory, inaccurate, accusatory posting is so distasteful, and unhelpful to your cause.

    His views not representative of the Cycling Embassy, you say? Correct me if I’m wrong but would this be the official twitter account of the CE of GB? @GBcycleEmbassy

    Late last night, @GBcycleEmbassy replied to @dave42w and, regarding the posting above, said “Well put, sir.”!/GBCycleEmbassy/status/38028417962086400

    Sure, that doesn’t make it ‘official policy’, because you don’t yet have one, but it’s more than a little suggestive of a direction the CE of GB might take.

    Combatitive is good, but not against fellow cyclists. I’d rather the venom was aimed at motorists, not cyclists.

  20. “Combatitive is good, but not against fellow cyclists.”

    This is the point I am trying to make. There is no such thing as ‘fellow cyclists’ on issues as broad and without consensus as segregation – we all of us have very different opinions and it is a waste of all our time trying to persuade one another – and others – to think the same way that we do.

    I’m not following the Twitter account of @gbcyclembassy 24 hours a day 7 days a week, believe it or not I’ve got better things to do, so I have no idea as to what Jim was saying ‘Well put Sir’ to Dave42w about, and neither do I especially care right now. Saying that words on Twitter are suggestive of the future direction of the CEoGB is a false argument entirely. You’ve Tweeted about wearing lycra before, but I don’t deign to suggest that it means you think everyone should wear it all of the time because that would be ridiculous, naturally. The CTC has tweeted about access to forests but that doesn’t keep me awake at night worrying that it suggests our national cycling campaign might be about to get in to the logging industry…

    Whilst I admire your passion for wanting to sustain this somewhat overblown argument we all have been having, what I actually CARE about is everyone retreating to their respective corners and getting on with work that will benefit some cyclists and potentially benefit all, through both approaches. I state again, Carlton, that it is a waste of your time and everyone else’s trying to convince one another to think the same way that you do, or I do.

    Let’s all step away from the ‘Refresh’ button and go about doing some work that we each believe will, in it’s own way, benefit people who choose to cycle.

    • Mark – just to clarify that in my main reply I suggest cyclists against THE MAN, and this was intended to be in circumstances where there was general consensus. Just seen your comment that “There is no such thing as ‘fellow cyclists’ on issues as broad and without consensus as segregation” and didn’t want you to misinterpret what I said! You have put it eloquently when you say “Let’s (…) go about doing some work that we each believe will, in it’s own way, benefit people who choose to cycle.” Although as a pedant I should advise there is no apostrophe in “its”!

  21. The point about the A50 is that a cyclist was killed by a driver who was texting. Thus the local MP thought that cyclists should be banned from the A-road. This is a bit like when the yorkshire ripper was at large, the police advised that women should stay off the street at night. The thought never occured to them that as the ripper was a man, men should stay off the streets at night. This texting driver could have just as easily killed a cyclist on a minor road or child cyclist crossing a road from one segregated path to another. (A lot of collisions occur when cyclists merge back on to the road from a segregated path) All the cycle campaigners I’ve talked to are extremely concerned about deaths on the road of people of all ages and we believe that a combination of slower speeds in residential areas, strict liability legislation, properly designed segregated cycleways where they are necessary with right of way for cyclists preserved at junctions and better driver (& cyclist) training are needed to tackle this.

  22. Mark’s point hits the nail on the head to an extent:

    “so rather than spending our time arguing against one another over frankly irreconcilable differences would it not be better if we all each pursued our own agendas and got on with doing something beneficial for all?”

    I used to attend meetings of a particular cycling campaign group but stopped going because all they seemed to do was argue (or perhaps debate would be better?) amongst themselves, to the detriment of any actual campaigning. Now I’m NOT saying that different types, or groups, of cyclists shouldn’t EVER work together for a common goal. But it might make more sense, as I think Mark suggests, to focus everyone’s energies on something that does unite most cyclists — and make it cyclists against THE MAN (or y’know, whoever) rather than against each other.

    Talking about the deaths of anyone, and especially children, is going to be an emotive subject and provoke strong responses. I’m pretty sure that wanting to prevent child deaths and wanting freedom to ride on the road are not mutually exclusive though. Yes, the subjects could mentioned in the same discussion. Perhaps this is where Twitter actually makes matters worse; 140 characters is not enough to expound a full argument.

    I think it’s a shame to suggest that because some people haven’t mentioned child deaths, they don’t care about them. In fact they probably haven’t mentioned them because it seems so obvious that they are a terrible thing whereas the issue of “rights to the road” is (clearly) debatable! As far as I can see, dave42w himself only makes one passing reference to child deaths in his original post, the main focus being on *encouraging cycling* for children and adults alike. This has probably informed responses to an extent too.

    This is the first time I’ve ever responded to a blog post and it’s quite scary, and I hope that my points come across as intended. I am not intending to attack anyone and if I have worded something carelessly then I’m sorry!

    • This is the first time I’ve ever responded to a blog post and it’s quite scary,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is much appreciated.

      You are of course quite right that the issue of child death is very emotive. I was certainly extremely angry that having written about the need to change our transport system to reduce child deaths it seemed that so many cyclists instead of supporting what seems obvious to me instead attacked me for something I had not said.

      It is interesting to hear another persons perspective. For me the issue of protecting children is central to the need for a changed transport infrastructure, in that context I found it incredibly inappropriate to ignore that and instead attack me for supposedly surrendering some inalienable right for men to ride on major truck roads.

      So thanks for helping me see past some of the very strong responses.

  23. @Dave

    This week would’ve been a great opportunity for you to monetise the blog with some ads ;0)

  24. Hey, you didn’t express disgust at the holocaust in this blog post so you must be one of those holocaust deniers. Disgusting.

    I agree with you that it’s an ongoing scandal that children (and adults) are killed on our roads every day as a result of transport policy. But that doesn’t mean I have to mention it every time I write or talk about cycling.

    • Agreed you don’t need to write about it all the time. But I was referring to the responses to a post that was about the need to change our infrastructure in response to the death toll and the road cycling comments were uniformly about whether I was trying to ban cycling on the road and not about the foundation of the post.

  25. Two Wheeled Platipus

    50% of all child deaths. Damn. If al-Qaeda were killing that many kids, we’d have turned the entire Middle East to radioactive glass by now. If drugs were doing it, we’d be beheading dealers in Parliament Square to cheering crowds. And yet Carnifex gets to continue his bloody work unabated and virtually unchallenged 🙁

    • “50% of all child deaths.”

      More accurately, nearly 50% of all deaths classified as “external causes” by the medical profession (ie no disease etc) and I think the charts were of specific age ranges.

  26. The argument continues!

    Dave42w was a little silly in suggesting, deliberately or otherwise, certain cyclists don’t care about children dying. Of course they do. But in this, there is the germ of a good point. The Great British Public don’t care about cyclists right to the road; they do however care about children dying.

    I generally support segregation, where the level of traffic would make many people *feel* unsafe. On other quieter roads, traffic calming makes sense.
    That seems to me how It seems to me the only way you’ll get lots and lots of people cycling. This belief is based on two facts: the Dutch approach and the current situation in Britain. A situation where a pretty pathetic number of people cycle.

    And because it’s been a pathetically small number of people for such a long time, I also support the efforts of the Cycling Embassy. It’s not particularly helpful to attack previous cycling campaign efforts, as it unnecessarily antagonises groups with many common goals. However, said groups also need to realise that many of efforts have failed, their efforts tend to concentrate on existing cyclists and also to use a bit of common sense.

    For example, it was with great amusement I read this comment posted above: “[…] traffic can be taken away from the cyclist without infrastructure but with simple changes in behaviour. A three foot gap achieves this and were it to become de-rigour then cyclists could even ride up the M6.”

    Just listen to yourself, please. I count myself as a cyclist and there’s not a hope in hell I would ever ride up the M6, even with a three foot gap.

    I always used to think, naively perhaps, that cyclists wanted other people to cycle. Perhaps because I do. I really *really* want more people to cycle because I believe it massively benefits society. But comments like this seem to suggest there are some existing cyclists who either don’t, or wildly misjudge what it is required to achieve it.

    I also believe it puts pay to Carlton Reid’s increasingly hysterical* beliefs that the Embassy will “split” cycling. Cycling is already split, get over it. Dave Barton, whom I quoted above, apparently enjoys mountain biking in Sardinia. I wouldn’t. I went there two years ago and it was the very last thing on my mind.

    Carlton, I understand too you’ve put in 25 years or so of cycling campaigning. Thank you. I’m sure you’ve done much good work. But in that time, in Britain, cycling hasn’t done erm much. I don’t think therefore it’s unreasonable to look at new ways of encouraging people to cycle. And quoting various tweets, to promote your version of the truth, to be honest, makes me giggle just a little bit.

    Finally, to return to the point in hand, I’m going to quote Dave Barton again. (Sorry Dave. I’m sure you’re very nice and I do agree and think dave42w was being a little crass).

    “There is this huge and invalid assumption that we cannot change behaviour. But we can, in the nineties I threw all of my cardboard into the bin. Now I put it in a recycling box. This behaviour was changed by media, opinion and facilitation. Attitudes to cyclists can be changed in that way as well, I don’t have the single answer, but I do know that sticking them in their own little private areas and making them dress like everyone else changes the attitude of the cyclist, not those who are killing them.”

    Behaviour only changes when everyone feels like we should. Currently, the public don’t really care about the welfare of cyclists. That’s because they’re seen as different and foolhardy. I’d argue very strongly there’s less respect for them *because* many of them dress differently. “They’re not like us” they think. You also mention their “own little private areas”. I don’t how much you’ve cycled in the Netherlands but I can assure you it’s not like that.

    (Perhaps those of us who support segregation need to explain better that it’s not *just* segregation that we support?)

    And if behaviour is changed by media, opinion and facilitation, something which I wholeheartedly agree with, I think it is eminently sensible to focus on the needless slaughtering of our children, as dave42w suggests we should.

    * “Hysterical: adjective […] 2. uncontrollably emotional […] 6. causing unrestrained laughter; very funny”

    • Thanks, pleased to see I have only been “a little silly” and “a little crass”!

    • arh14 whoever you are.

      I’m massively offended by your miss-quotation..of my surname. Not only do I suffer abuse by motorists but my fellow cyclists lump me in with the Barton’s as well 😉 My ancestors were seafarers and would be horrified to be lumped in with the farmers.
      I have no idea what your point about Sardinia is? It is a fantastic place to mountain bike.

      Finally, if there is one thing I would worry about it is behavioural change by scaremongering. Your argument could be boiled down to a future where we protect children not cyclists. This is part of, but not the desired end result.


      Dave BARTER

      • Dave *Barton*, you have my sincere apologies for mistaking your name. I’m not sure how it happened.

        My point about Sardinia was admittedly somewhat laboured. What I meant was this. Mr Carlton Reid is babbling on about how the Embassy risks ‘splitting’ cyclists. The current reality is that, of those people who cycle, we already do, prefer, support and enjoy many different things. I’m sure it’s a fantastic place to go MTBing but frankly I – a fellow ‘cyclist’ – would hate the idea.

        I’m sorry to pick on you individually too: I dislike quarrelling with other people who cycle. But given it is a certain group of cyclists who usually prove most hostile to the kind of measures I support (vehemently), out of anyone in society who cycles or otherwise, I can see no way round it.

  27. I’m late to the, um, party, but I think I’m missing something. If good quality “Dutch-style” provision is made available to cyclists, can’t children use that — thus be “saved” — without their use being mandatory for adults?

    To be honest, I’m not overly concerned with being made to use cycling facilities if they are of good quality. I assume any requirement would only apply if the cycling facility goes where I want to go; and at other times I’d be able to use the road. My only real issue with having to use cycle lanes is other cyclists holding me up (or pedestrians and their dogs if it’s shared use, but that’s another matter); but realistically, that’s only the same annoyance that I may present to motorists.

    I’d be more concerned about any suggestion that helmet-wearing should be mandatory. Ooops! Can open; worms everywhere.

    • Daren,

      Yes. I would assume that as in the Netherlands good quality provision would not mean mandatory use but that most people (and remember here we are expecting that most users would be people who do not currently ride a bike) would use them.

      So far as I know shared use paths in the way we have them in the UK (generally useless, narrow and filled with dogs) are not a feature of the Netherlands. Instead they share road space with everyone in residential areas and with pedestrians in parts of town centres.

      It is rare for a cyclist to hold up a car so much that they do not catch up with the car ahead very quickly (and then probably get passed by the cyclist again).

      I agree lets keep away from helmets.

      • What you’ve said is broadly true, but a bit of a simplification (you should come and see for yourself).

        Shared use paths don’t exist (there’s always an exception, of course, and actually I’ve found one in three years).

        In between towns you tend to have a cycle path and a road. Usually there will be two cycle paths, on either side of the road, each for single direction use. This will be a minimum of 2.5 m wide. Sometimes there will be a single cycle path on one side of the road, which will be 4 m wide. Some slightly older, slightly narrower infrastructure still exists.

        In towns, the cycle paths continue (e.g. here). Generally speaking, traffic lights and other junctions prioritize cyclists on the cycle path. You’ll make slower progress if you use the roads.

        In residential areas, cyclists “share with everyone”, but they’re not the same as residential areas in the UK. Speed limits are never higher than 30 km/h, and often the speed limit is legally “walking pace”. There is no through traffic possible due to design, and as a result, no rat-running.

        Residential streets look like this. They are designed around areas for children to play. Older ones have such features retrofitted into them. Where there are likely to be a lot of cars in residential areas, you can find decent quality cycle paths running next to roads even with 30 km/h (18 mph) speed limits.

        The situation you describe of being passed by cars which then get stuck in traffic has never once occurred to me here in the Netherlands. In practice you don’t cycle on roads which actually have any degree of motorized traffic on them. Either you’re on a cycle path or the road is designed in such a way that you have segregation of modes without a cycle path.

        • Thanks David. It is quite a few years since I cycled in the Netherlands (see my post coming in the morning).

          Howe we can retrofit a quality cycling infrastructure in the UK is obviously a key concern.

    • The way I see it, the only valid reason to forbid bicycles from (fast/busy) roads would be the same as for forbidding pedestrians, speed difference between cars and cycles/pedestrians is just too much for drivers to have any reasonable chance to react if one happened to end up on the lane in front of them. Like on motorways. In which case you wouldn’t build any supporting infrastructure in the first place.

      I may have missed something, but in any other case it feels the reason would not be the safety of the people on bicycles but rather to paper over the real problem. If there were a reasonable alternative that is direct enough, properly maintained, not hostile, etc. most people would voluntarily already use it, and the remaining people who prefer the road ought to be far less in numbers, and probably faster, and so not raise significant complaints from car drivers to be of political interest. But instead of actually spending some money to solve the actual problem it is far easier to try to just make the problem go away. And sadly it probably works as long as there’s not loud enough objections.

  28. Carlton, what exactly scares you so much about the CEoGB? And if you’re not scared of it, then I apologise in advance for having misinterpreted what you’ve said here and elsewhere.

    I certainly don’t see Dave42w’s views as extreme. Strong yes, passionate certainly, sensationalist perhaps, but extreme? No.

    Here’s a scenario I’d like your opinion on:
    Supposed you were GUARANTEED cycling infrastructure that prioritised bicycles at junctions, that was of excellent design and implementation and was well thought out, allowing you to cycle safely at speed without being forced to slow down or stop every hundred metres. Suppose you have these ‘main’ cycle routes as described above connecting different areas, and within individual areas there are lowered speed limits to allow cars and cycles to safely share the road.
    Suppose you could have all that, but in order to get it you have to surrender your right to cycle on the car routes connecting different areas. And remember, these car routes often take the long way and force drivers to stop and yield to cyclists.
    In this hypothetical scenario, would you accept it as offered, or would you explode in anger at having your right to cycle on any road taken away from you?

    I’m really curious regarding your answer.

  29. “I have not seen even one cyclist who has argued to protect their right to cycle on the roads express any concern at all for the children killed on the roads”

    ??? this just doesn’t make any sense. The logic is flawed. My whole gig is primarily concerned with child safety but I would resist any ban on road cycling. There is no contradiction there. Cars should be limited not bikes. They introduce the risk to children not us.

    I think you are courting controversy to assist with your stats…. It’s worked 😉

    • First look at the context, the post was a response to the responses to my earlier post not to all people everywhere.

      Secondly consider what I am actually asking for. It does not include banning bikes from roads. Instead it is for Dutch quality infrastructure which is both separated cyclepaths and massive traffic calming (very different to UK calming).

      • I WANT some lanes too… you and I agree(mainly) on this. Feels good innit?

        I just don’t think what you said about no one arguing for child protection makes any sense. You have had a busy couple of days n’est pas?

  30. One of the key groups that has emphasised child safety on the roads is 20’s plenty for us.

    This is a group that emerged out of the cycle campaign movement, but wanted to be more inclusive than just talking to cyclists , and has scored some amazing successes. I think the existence of this group nails the lie once and for all that cycle campaigners “seem not to care at all about the children being killed on our roads.” It goes back to the point that we need a number of things working together if we are to achieve a safe environment for all on UK roads.

  31. What happened to the law? « 42 Bikes - pingback on February 18, 2011 at 9:20 pm
  32. Well done! Keep on saying it. I want every child to be able and allowed to cycle where they need to go in safety and so does any parent. The high echelons of cycle advocacy seem dominated by a clique of road cyclists who seem to have little interest in really growing utility cycling.

    If I hear the CTC say on the radio again that cycling is safe, it is growing, safety in numbers and all the rest of the tosh I think I’ll scream!

    We need to break out of the ghetto of mountain biking, road racing and all the rest and really make cycling a mass way of getting about and the only way to do this is to build infrastructure that people can and will use.

  33. Clearly the last three posters didn’t read my post at February 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm, or else didn’t want the facts to get in the way of a good opinion. Of course cycle campaigners want to grow cycling for all – why else would we devote so much of our time, unpaid, to doing it? We recognise the role that good quality infrastructure has to play, but we feel that the elephant in the room is driver behaviour in the UK – something that has been addressed almost everywhere else in Europe but not here and that the current government is refusing to address – see “Ending the war on the motorist”. We also unapologetically want to protect the rights of the 1.2 million utility cyclists in the UK (based on the official figure of 2% modal share) and 4-5 million general cyclists (based on the Institure of Advanced Motoring figures.

    • wildnorthlands,

      I have written a separate post on 20 is plenty.

      I do not accept that vehicular cycling campaigns can succeed in providing cycling for all.

      Please can you tell me where you get a figure of 2% modal share and what share that is of.

      I absolutely agree that driver behaviour is a problem and one that vehicular cycling as a movement fails to address.

      Please can you spell out what you mean by “We also unapologetically want to protect the rights of the 1.2 million utility cyclists in the UK” and how that relates to a desire to cut road deaths and desire to get non cyclists riding bikes.

      • OK, I see that you want me to explain 133 years of campaigning for cyclists rights (in the case of the CTC) in a few sentences. I’ll do my best. Firstly let me say that I agree with you that fighting for twenty mph limits alone is not enough. Here is a list of other things that are not enough on their own to achieve modal shift:

        Segregated cycle lanes
        Strict Liability
        Cyclists right of way.
        Child safety
        Cycle training
        Naked Streets

        There are probably some others that I’ve forgotten. The point is that we have to have all these things working together to achieve modal shift – no one thing will do it. That is what countries who have achieved substantial shift have done. Oh, by the way the countries who have achieved these things are mostly flat, but that’s not necessarily relevant.

        Let’s talk about vehicular cycling. This is a term that I’d never heard of until freewheeler, of “Crap Cycling in Waltham Forest” used it. I used to have a lot of respect for the CCWF blog until freewheeler started attacking me and people like me. Apparently I am “a vehicular cycling campaigner (who) has become desensitised both to perceptions of danger and to infrastructure and road conditions which are threatening and potentially lethal.” I find that a comforting thought as I inch my way down wet roads with motorists who are likely to pull into my path without looking at any point. In looking for that quote I noticed that freewheeler is still twisting my words and those of others to suit his purposes, and still refusing to open up to debate by allowing comments on his blog. Actually as a cyclist I much prefer off-road routes and use them whenever I can as long as they don’t delay my journey or put me in more danger than cycling on the road would.
        It’s worth noting that Sustrans has installed 12,000 miles of National Cycle Network in the UK (based on the Danish network) approximately one-third of which is off-road, and it still hasn’t been enough to achieve modal shift. Which leads me to the question of where I get the figure of 2% Modal Share? Statistics are a minefield but that is the commonly accepted figure and has been recently used by the person behind the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain to deride the efforts of Uk cycle campaign groups. In short, Google it.
        Lastly, yes we do want to increase cycling in the UK, but in doing so we not wish to lose the cycling base that we have in the UK. It consists of a large number of people who choose to cycle, and are able to cope with conditions on UK roads. We will not accept a situation where cyclists are banned from a substantial proportion of the UK road system, as was proposed by the MP for Uttoxeter. Let’s have the off-road network, and let’s have the right to ride on the road as well – that’s the way to grow cycling in my opinion. Oh and let’s stop attacking each other.

        • wildnorthlands,

          First, I agree we need lots of things to get the modal shift I believe we need. However, the impression that many people seem to have is that cycle campaigners have actually been quiet on most of these things and certainly the reactions I got here implied that “proper cyclists” put the right to ride on every road as their highest priority. I don’t accept that priority.

          I have heard about Vehicular Cycling a term coined by John Forester well before Freewheeler referred to it. Clearly as I believe in Strict Liability etc I do not agree with all the Freewheeler writes. I have no idea if you are someone he is attacking because I don’t know who you are 🙂 His not having comments does not stop debate, the internet is open, create a blog and respond if you wish.

          I have googled wildnorthlands and there is someone using that handle commenting on the site and pointing a a draft Cyclenation policy. I guess that is probably you but obviously can’t be sure.

          Anyway I do not agree with that draft cyclenation policy as it starts by supporting the same hierarchy of provision that has been used for many years. The policy does NOT appear to have achieved:
          – making roads very noticeably safer (and my perception is that they feel less safe now than they did 30 years ago)
          – providing a quality separated cycle infrastructure
          – providing Dutch style traffic calmed residential areas and city centres

          I think Sustrans have done a great job for the most part in creating a good leisure cycle network that for the most part people drive to with their bikes on the back of the car. It is little used for general transport because it does not connect safely with peoples homes, schools, jobs & shops. A key indicator of this is how much Sustrans routes get used after dark (without that they can’t be used to get to/from work or school?

          Please note again that I have not said the right to ride on the road should be taken away.

    • I was commenintg on the original post rather than any of the follow up ones.

      In my view vehicular cycling has had 35 years to prove itself and has failed. I agree that it is the only sensible way to cycle on the UK’s roads but I don’t think that it will ever attract enough people to cycling. If it’s so great why is YouTube packed with near death experience cycling videos?

      I’m not sure if anyone who has driven on the continent would think that driver behaviour over there is much better.

      The difference is that in many countries it doesn’t literally impact on cyclists as they are not using the same lanes.

      As I understand it strict liability in the Netherlands came after bicycle modal share was built back up again not before.

      Whilst I’d be quite happy with Dutch standard cycle infrastructure and wouldn’t want to cycle on the roads if it was available we must remember that the Dutch also do a lot of on road cycling on low speed roads, homezones and the like. They also actively disadvantage cars as well. The difference is that they put segregated paths so much higher in their list of solutions rather than right at the bottom never to be used.

      I think the CTC was right to oppose the proposed changes to the Highway Code requiring the use of cycle facilities where they were available because those facilities are often so poor. However, the CTC missed the chance to use that moment to start a campaign for Dutch standard facilities. It missed this in my opinion because it is blinkered by its adherance to vehicular cycling.

      Time to take off the blinkers and campaign for what is proven to work.

  34. I think I first came across the concept of vehicular cycling in the 1970’s but I can’t remember if that was the term used at that time. As an approach it certainly made cyclng on the roads easier because you were in the flow of the traffic. The big problem of course is the difference in speeds and the consequences of an incident.

    Since I also drive it strikes me that most drivers are just are thoughtless and careless with other drivers as they are with bikes. Most don’t seem to single us out.

    In my opinion it is difficult to impossible to sell cycling on the roads to enough people to be worth it. It is perceived as dangerous and it is certainly often unpleasant. Nearly everyone I speak to about cycling remarks about the danger.

    What is the image of UK cycling in the public mind? I’d say it was of a Lycra clad, law breaking fringe group intent on attacking the “rights” of the car using majority. What is the image of Dutch cycling? People cycling along with their children to the shops, to school etc. No special clothing, no stripped down bikes, no mud, just normal.

    I don’t have any Lycra, for which the nation gives thanks, and I generally use my bike for just getting about, mostly on the roads. I’ve done this for many years and I’m sick and tired of cycling on the roads. Give me some Dutch cycle paths so I can take my daughter cycling starting from our house rather than driving to the safe place to cycle.

    I love the Crap Cycling in Waltham Forest blog. It maintains a high level of coherent rage without tipping over into a rant whilst telling it how it is. Perhaps it should be called the Emperor’s new clothes of cycling blog. The recent pieces on the council’s grey fleet are particularly good.

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