Why Boris Johnson has got it wrong on Blackfriars Bridge

This is an incredibly important point (my emphasis):

Dr Robert Davis of the Road Danger Reduction Forum came on the show a couple of week’s ago. One of his arguments is that public policy is heavily skewed by a form of ambulance-chasing, i.e. only taking action on road danger when there is evidence in the form of collisions causing death and serious injuries. By only responding to data on crashes, Dr Davis says we ignore the adaptive behaviour that is going on among vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians. We are presented with the apparent paradox that a road can be dangerous for cyclists yet be declared ‘safe’ since there have been no crashes involving cyclists. This is because cyclists have simply decided not to ride on that road. via Why Boris Johnson has got it wrong on Blackfriars Bridge | The Bike Show – a cycling radio show and podcast from Resonance FM.

We see this all the time.

We could also assume that the, very rare, accidents between cyclists and pedestrians are due to the cyclists either being driven off the roads or provided with completely inadequate provision (for example sharing a narrow path with lots of pedestrians and dogs is very difficult as a cyclist).

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  1. I tried to make a local councillor understand this when talking to him about our street. I was explaining it was dangerous as all the other streets have traffic calming features which force drivers to slow until they get onto our street which is long and straight. Unsurprisingly they put their foot down and speed the whole length of it. I pointed out as it is dangerous non one lets kids out alone or socialises with neighbours. His response was that it will not be considered unsafe until there are at least 8 incidents in a year and as there haven’t been 8 incidents it’s safe. He couldn’t understand that the statistics are only reflecting that our street is not properly used by residents rather than being safe.

  2. BJ states that there hasn’t been a speed-related accident on Blackfriars Bridge since 2006 – possibly so, and back in 2006 the then-new cycle lane across the bridge might have provided adequate separation between cars and cycles (it is 2.5m wide and mandatory, and violations were rare before motorbikes were permitted into the bus lane in the current trial).

    Thing is now, violations by motorbikes coming up the inside and invading the ASL are absolutely commonplace, and they can be fast-moving and of course they are big, heavy machines these days. Also, the cycle traffic has increased so much since then that the 2.5m lane is too narrow to accomodate all the cyclists coming over the bridge in peak hours. The last set of screenline counts, in 2010, found over 35% of all traffic during the morning peak. Since Easter this year, when there was a marked up-tick in cyclists as the weather improved, I would say that the proportion has gone even higher, somehting you can get a flavour of on Mark Ames’ (ibikelondon) video on his blog.

    Turns out that BJ is by no means the only Tory London pol who commutes by bike, and some of his assembly member colleagues seem more sympathetic to the 20 limit and who knows, might even vote for it next week when the resolution is re-tabled.

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