Monday 4 November 2013

Let's Keep This Simple...

Yes. Let's keep this simple.

It's a simple message, but one that doesn't seem to be getting through, even to celebrity cycle campaigners. I've talked about it before, but I suspect that words got in the way of the message. So here is the message:

I am not guilty of the sins of other cyclists.

 I hope that is clear enough, and should you wish you can stop reading now. The rest is far less important and wordy.

Ah, you're still here so I suspect you are looking for a bit of 'qualification' for that statement.

I absolutely hate it when everyone from aggressive driver to should know better political commentator forgets or doesn't understand the above message. In any discussion or newspaper article that is on teh subject of making roads safer for cyclists we do not need to hear the phrase:

...of course cyclists don't always behave.....

or similar. We don't need it, and it isn't helpful. Were there similar discussions at the time of the implementation of seatbelts and the associated laws?

We really need to install seatbelts in cars, although we should remember that drivers do run red lights. and drink drive an awful lot....

No. They were just introduced because they were a damn good idea. It saved and continues to save countless lives.Why, oh why then when we discuss making cycling safer in our towns and cities (and our country roads!) do we need to qualify that with a statement about how damn naughty some of those dastardly cyclists are? Why not do something really radical instead? Why not actually work towards making the roads safer without pandering to the prejudices of those who do not understand the issues faced by cyclists (have you ever asked a cyclist why they pavement cycle..) ?

Let's keep it simple.


  1. hearhear, and importantly, seeing a cyclist should make even the hardest driver think 'there's someone who's costing me less tax in healthcare, sick leave etc'. A bit like wind turbines look like low-carbon power, even if you don't actually like them. More power to your elbow! I salute you! (as a cyclist, road safety engineer, tree-hugger, and lower of Glasgow - I'm there for work in Bothwell St from time to time)

  2. Well put!

    I feel that part of the problem is this word "cyclists". Any discussion about doing anything good "for cyclists" is inevitably going to get the ignorant red light jumping comments.

    So these cycling commentators such as Jon Snow (we are talking about him, right?) need to start off by calling for improvements not "for cyclists" but "to make cycling safe and convenient for everyone". Make it clear that the goal is to create conditions where everyone of any age and ability can feel that using a bike is an option for them, and suddenly the "cyclists jump red lights" rubbish is irrelevant.

    And when someone does inevitably bring that up, they can be reminded that we're not talking about the existing "cyclists" whom they dislike, and that the topic of discussion is modern transport infrastructure.

    Because that's what we're talking about now isn't it – better streets, roads, towns, cities and villages for everyone – not small improvements to alleviate some problems for the few who already cycle?

  3. Well said David.

    The Jon Snow article especially wound me up as he is he president of the CTC and should not even be uttering that message, and also as one of the UK's premier league TV news people should be media savvy enough to expect interviewers to twist whatever is said to suit their needs.

    We see badly behaved drivers and pedestrians all the time, but we do not see anyone apologising for their collective behavior.

    We and especially advocates in the media like Jon Snow need to stop using the word "cyclists" and start talking about "people riding bikes" when trying to push the message for safer environments and infrastructure

  4. When I debate cycling & get accused of RLJ, cycling on pavements etc, my stock response is "This may be hard to understand, but the cyclist you saw wasn't me".

    I would fully support a crackdown on unacceptable road use providing it was even handed. That's where the problem starts, because given the comparative social damage cause by the respective forms of transport, they would have to reinstate hanging for motoring offenses to maintain proportionality in penalties.