/ Motoring

Should drivers be made to get their cycling proficiency?

Bicycle on blue background

Cycle safety is rarely out of the news, but what can be done to improve it? One idea is to make cycling proficiency a compulsory part of the driving licence – a good move or just another hurdle for drivers?

On my commute this morning I noticed a gent having his statement taken by police while examining his car. Next to him was a cyclist holding up their half-mangled bike and being attended to for cuts and bruises. It’s sadly a regular sighting on our roads today.

Our debate on cycle helmets touched many of you as we received more than 200 comments arguing both for and against the compulsory use of cycle helmets. Helmets are one option but other suggestions include improving road layouts and cycle systems.

Funding for cycle safety

The Department for Transport announced it was investing £15m into cycling safety in June of this year. Funding is a positive move, but some feel there’s still a ‘them and us’ attitude between cyclists and drivers.

An interesting idea I stumbled upon could help break these attitudes down. The Guardian’s Tom Richards asked if cycling proficiency should be a compulsory part of the driving licence. Now, for those of you thinking cycling around plastic cones in a school playground is a bit basic, it can actually cover much more realistic scenarios and is now delivered by qualified instructors rather than volunteers.

The latest cycling proficiency tests, branded Bikeability, encompasses three levels, ranging from learning how to control your bike to using complex junctions and road features. Admittedly these tests are still aimed at teenagers but there are opportunities for adults to complete advanced skills courses.

Taking us back to our childhood

Much like the HGV licence requires drivers to acquire a full driving licence for a car first, partly to help understand other road users, the advanced cycle skills course could be beneficial to motor vehicle drivers to fully understand how bike users think and act on the road. Interestingly though, the cycling proficiency test isn’t even compulsory for cyclists, so perhaps introducing that should be the first step…

Should cycling tests be a mandatory part of your driving licence and would this improve cycle safety? Or perhaps cyclists should be made to take their driving licence before being allowed on their bikes?

Should drivers have to get their cycling proficiency?

It should be encouraged, but not compulsory (41%, 102 Votes)

Yes - it should be compulsory (32%, 79 Votes)

No - it's just another hurdle for drivers (27%, 67 Votes)

Total Voters: 254

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Comments

No, I don’t think that drivers should be made to take their cycling proficiency any more than a cyclist should have to get a driving licence.

Trying to “educate” drivers into looking out for pedestrians will never work. Why? well, how has the mobile phone whilst driving law been doing? Drivers will do whatever they want as long as there is not police nearby.

The solution is clearly to build proper, separate cycle lanes throughout all towns and cities, with their own traffic lights and priorities.

graham says:
18 August 2012

the roads are shared space and that ia a fact. Up until 1950’s the roads were people and horses then cyclists and then cars in volume came along. Horses killed loads of people over the years.Cars now kill and injure loads of people.
So how do you lower the risk to all users that is the question?
I dont belive there is a one size fits all solution ie speed kills is not a solution! the solution has to to be a combination of…
Training and awareness for all road users…even pedestrains and walkers. plus regular updating of skills…you dont train as a gas fitter in 1980 and still be doing it in 2012 with no training in between do you?
better junction and road surface design…i.e. money and stop blaming speed its not the key factor. (incompotent or dangerous driving probably is)
less road furniture,,its distracts everyone!
better implemnetation of road laws ie policing.

Further to my earlier reply comment today, I have just looked at the Transport for London website section on their cycle-hire scheme. There is an interesting description of the bicyles used for this purpose and it clearly shows how easy it is to incorporate a name [Barclays in this case] on the splashers on the rear mudguard and a serial number [on the chain case] without in any way compromising safety or performance of the machine.

The TfL bikes are horrendous pieces of over-engineered junk. They weigh in TWENTY THREE KILOS and most cyclists wouldn’t even consider purchasing such monstrosity. They are truly dreadful bikes and should be smelted down to make 10 real bikes. 23 kgs is around 10 times the weight of really good bikes.

Rear mud guards! When did you last ride a bike? My rear ‘mud guard’ is merely a piece of ultra lightweight molded plastic that attaches to the seat post. It is unlikely to support anything more than fresh air. See http://www.wiggle.co.uk/sks-dashblade-clip-on-mtb-rear-mudguard/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=uk&gclid=COXm3OTP8bECFagmtAodpB8AEw for an example of a 21st century mud guard.

Who the hell has a chain case these days except those TfL monstrosities?

There are already serial numbers stamped on every bicycle if you know where to look (usually on the bottom bracket). You can register yours with the police here: http://thenmpr.com/ . They have stamped serial numbers on bike frames for at least 50 years and probably longer. They could be made more conspicuous but certainly not number plate sized that could be read from 20 metres (as per the DVLA requirements).

The intelligent cyclists have mudguards. The rest often have a muddy, wet strip on their back. 🙂

I see what you’re saying Terry, the TfL bike would not be everyone’s choice, but where I live most bicycle riders have a fairly traditional heavy-weight machine with mudguards and chaincases [see my previous post at 4.:07pm yesterday]. They also tend to have panniers, saddle bags and front baskets . There are two cycle dealers in my small town and one always has a Pashley sit-up-&-beg type bicycle in the window with all these accessories available; the other shop also sells sensible bikes built for endurance rather than speed as well as some racier models. All I am saying is that, round here, it wouild not be a problem putting identity markers on bicycles. Obviously on super-lightweight stripped-to-the-bone examples the rider would have to carry the ID details on their clothing like an Olympic competitor – not an insurmountable problem I guess.

And cyclists should not be racing on public roads, any more than cars or motorcycles should.

graham says:
19 August 2012

“cyclists shouldnt race on the roads???” sorry wavelength can you explain why you said that. i dont understand the comment..when the thread is “identifying/coding” bikes

I do not see Terry’s comments about light-weight bikes as having relevance unless they are used for racing. We have enough accidents on public roads without anyone doing that.

Actually, I’m wavechange.

A point that most have missed, including those arguing for motorists to do cycling proficiency, is the measures that are needed to provide a safer environment for children to cycle.

I grew up with less cars on the roads and a bicycle was my independence. My freedom was limited to the distance my legs could carry me and parental stricture of “be home by dark”. This is sadly no longer the case. My childhood experience was the rule, not the exception.

When I read many of the posts on this topic I am struck by the fact that in the battle for road turf and our own convenience we are unwilling to make any concessions for our own children. When Holland developed their cycle infrastructure in the 1970’s they did so for their children, adult needs were secondary. We are not even willing support the concept of teaching drivers to develop an awareness for children on the road! What sort of society are we?

We certainly do need to do something, skeptictank.

Notwithstanding their personal prejudices, any responsible parent should get their children to wear cycle helmets for protection on our dangerous roads. If that discourages them from cycling, then a bit of education is needed.

@wavechange Cycle helmets have unproven efficacy are are anyway off-topic. Nevertheless, who you think should provide this education if we are in willing to educate our drivers on how to to stop killing and maiming children on the roads in the first instance?

In my comment above please read unwilling for “in willing”

skeptictank

To repeat my original post, I’m happy with trying any reasonable measures that will improve safety on our roads and do something about the ‘them and us’ attitude between cyclists and motorists.

If it might help that motorists do a cycling proficiency test, then let’s go for it. I believe that it would be useful and I agree that there is a lot that could and should be done to make life safer for cyclists. It is not going to happen overnight, unfortunately.

Children are not really capable of deciding on the issue of cycle helmets and statistics are never going to comfort the families of a dead child when there is a possibility that their life could have been saved. Adults can do what they like as far as I’m concerned.

@wavechange, you said that people should overcome their personal prejudices. Perhaps I should remind you of the first definition of prejudice: “a preformed opinion that cannot be supported by the evidence”. I’ll provide little further lesson in English by defining a bigot. “A person person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions”.

My views on cycle helmets are founded on evidence. In countries where they have been mandated they did not reduce head injuries or advance cycling safety. You have not produced evidence to support any of your views. Are you suggesting that any cycling safety, children or adult, should be founded on prejudice and bigotry? Do you think that Which? should use this as a method for evaluating their products let alone issues that affect the safety of humans?

I, along with the rest of my generation grew up without helmets. In the process we fell off our bikes and incurred cuts, bumps, scrapes and bruises and even sometimes broken bones. Life cannot be lived without risk. For all that I think I entered adulthood with a better calibrated sense of risk that today’s children. The problem is that the danger to children nowadays emanates not from their behaviour but from us in our cars.

Mandating helmets for children would require an act of parliament for no provable benefit. If parliament is going to pass laws let it at least be for something that can demonstrate a safety advantage.

If you put a tea cosy on your head it will give you some protection, and a light-coloured one could help you be seen at night. 🙂

I’m not sure who is the bigot but one thing is for sure and that is the discussion is off-topic.

It’s interesting that even without the force of law behind them so many parents are making sure that their children wear a helmet while out cycling. There doesn’t seem to be any local evidence that it is doing them any harm. I would like to see parents also brushing up on their Highway Code and good driving practice – moreover, there’s no reason why people shouldn’t be encouraged to voluntarily improve their roadcraft and cyclecraft skills and getting a Cycling Proficiency Certificate would be an admirable demonstration of responsible parenting which many others might wish to emulate.

graham says:
19 August 2012

i have just come back off a skyride in birmingham.several things struck me.
a) closed roads certainly get cyclists out of all shapes , sizes ages and bike types.
b) the vast majority wear helmets..me included..my choice i prefer some brain protection to none i have hit the gorund twice hard… the noggin is ok but sadly the broken collarbone and hips arent.but i digress.
c) Many people cannot judge their line round a corner…scary
d) many cannot ride and look without wobbling all over the road.
Woman cannot muittask…..ie ride a bikesafely and look after a child on the bike in front of them…i have the proof people.(neither can men!)
e)A large % have no idea once on a bike that they should be aware of whats going on around them and position them selves correctly on the road. Let alone glance over their shoulder before changing dorection!!!!
f) i saw at least 2 ambulances which indicate at least 2 people cannot go down hill properly.
g) It was great fun though!!

Conclusion..most people would benefit from training…how to do it and implement it….beyond me i’m afraid.Probably best to make it compulasory at school??

Agreed, but don’t assume that everyone who has cycle training will remain a good cyclist. Likewise, anyone who passes a driving test does not go on to be a good driver, as all cyclists will know.

There are simple solutions to both problems.

brat673 says:
19 August 2012

Yes it would help but there would have to be exemptions for the disabled and those people who aren’t able to ride because of balance problems.
A thought about cyclists are those, who when a cycle path is provided insist on riding on the road!

Steve says:
20 August 2012

We car drivers should remember that almost all of us drive over the speed limit, many of us undertake on motorways when it’s convenient or when traffic is moving in queues (which of course is allowed in the highway code, so why do us car drivers get so upset when cyclists do it!?). Most of us will go past an amber light and try to excuse it, though we know we should STOP). Contrary to most of the views posted here (but I’m not from London where things may be different), I rarely see cyclists jumping red lights on my daily commute, though I often see motorists doing it, I rarely see cyclists cutting up motorists, though I often see car drivers doing it, and I rarely see cyclists positioned incorrectly at til roundabouts and having to change lanes at the last minute, but I see car drivers doing that every day!
We should also remember that the roads were there before the cars, and that cyclists did a lot to get many of the old dirt roads tarmacced.
Lastly, pedestrians, cyclists and horses have a “right of way” on roads (except motorways). We car drivers can only drive on roads through having a license.

Please don’t forget that some drivers are unable to ride bikes for physical reasons. When younger I rode bikes and had several motor cycles.
I now have COPD (a lung disease-I only have 27% efficiency), and would be unable to ride a bike regrettably.
My wifes cousin and his wife are both disabled, and are provided with a mobility car – they would not be able to ride a bike either.

Mike says:
22 October 2012

I am a car driver and have been for 45 years,I also have taken the motorbike test part one, within both of these methods of transport, a very important aspect of safety is the Life Saver, more so for the biker or cyclist, who is changing lane or moving out to pass a stationary car, it is the glance over the shoulder to see if it is safe to move out of the kerb towards the center of the road, or change lanes. It happened to me, traveling in my car, way ahead was a parked car, a little closer was a cyclist in the gutter, seeing there was a car behind me, I indicated to the car behind that I was moving out to pass the stationary car, but as I moved out to the right, so did the cyclist but without checking it was safe to do so, and at least ten car lengths before the parked car, so we have a cyclist moving into the path of a car that he is unaware of with no effort on his behalf to be safe, I see this all the time, why would you risk your safety like this?

So both you and the cyclists were pulling out to pass a parked car at least 10 car lengths from the parked car. Did you expect the cyclists to stop and let all the cars behind pass the narrower gap first? The cyclist has to pull out well in advance: if he waits until he’s right up behind the parked car and then pulls out to pass, the cars coming behind suddenly have a narrow – possibly non-negotiable – gap to contend with. So the cyclists pulls out well in advance so that vehicles BEHIND have plenty of warning that the gap will be reduced because he’s going to cycle by the parked car.

Just because you signalled to the car behind that you were pulling out is irrelevant because the cyclist was IN FRONT of you. Cyclists not only have to contend with cars behind trying to pass parked cars whilst they are passing the same, but they also have to contend with idiot drivers who don’t look before opening the door: which is why they have to give such a wide berth to parked cars.

Then there are always the cars that force pass the cyclists just before the parked vehicle even when it is clear that another vehicle is coming from the other direction. Result: the car stops in front of the cyclist up close to the parked vehicle so now neither can get past until the approaching vehicle passes. That’s another reason why cyclists have to pull out so far in advance of the parked vehicle.

I think you need to examine your driving from the cyclists perspective.

navigator says:
23 October 2012

mike i have to agree with terry on this one he is quite correct.

Mike says:
23 October 2012

Sorry Terry I did say the car was WAY AHEAD, when I indicated and then started to move over to my right, the ten car lengths is the point when just moments later I was then almost up to the cyclist, when, WITHOUT checking behind, he suddenly moved from the gutter to a position in front of my car, Let me just say now,,,, a car that HE had no idea was there, a car that had to brake from 30mph down to 5mph in order not to run over him, I didn’t think I would have to tell the whole story to make the point that had the car been driven by one of the many many IDIOT car drivers, who as a car driver myself, I meet and have to share the roads with every day, that is to say a driver on the phone, or changing radio station, and not looking ahead, or speeding and not able to stop in time, had it been one of those, he could be dead. as a cyclist if you think it is ok to leave your safety in the hands of the latter, then I would not advise it, better to follow the highway code and use the life saver, that said Terry, I did notice that you had more advice for me, and none for the cyclist, do you have a bike by any chance?

Sure. I have owned and ridden bicycles since 1950-ish and I have driver motorcycles, cars and lorries (up to 3-ton) since 1968. I currently regularly drive a car and ride a bicycle.

Whilst I was driving into town today, I did check the usual distance that I start to pull out when approaching a parked car and I would say that 10 car lengths is about right. If there’s another parked vehicle within that sort of distance, I stay that far out too. I don’t weave in and out suddenly.

As a car driver I always expect a cyclists to pull out to pass a parked vehicle, so I’m never surprised by it. But there are some nervous cyclists who do stay far too close into the curb for comfort and do tend to pull out suddenly as they reach parked vehicles. Riding too close to the curb is now discouraged. Riders should keep well out of the curb (1 – 1.5 m) so that if a vehicle does come too close, they do have an escape path. Also curbs are notoriously bad with poorly maintained drain covers and potholes (which I’m sure were never that bad when I was younger).

Mike says:
23 October 2012

ok so I am corrected, normally cyclists I come across don’t move from the kerb when still 10 car lengths, it’s mostly about half that, But I now know it is ok and safe for the cyclist to move about the carrigeway without checking what is behind him wherever they are, and they also don’t have to check for the car that could be about to run over them, safe in the knowlege that at the cyclists funeral it will be pointed out that he did everything that he felt he needed to, before the collision.
However all was not lost, at the pearly gates he was offered the chance to go back to earth, and have the bike of his choice, all he had to do was answer one question, What was the colour of the car that hit you as you moved out from the kerb? Then in a sort of all this could have been avoided tone of voice he said ” well I really couldn’t be bothered to look”

I think you missed the point. Cyclists move out to pass parked vehicles and the onus is on cars coming for behind to see that there is a cyclist and must EXPECT him/her to move out to pass it. As with 99.999999999999% of car drivers, they don’t signal when they pull out to pass a parked vehicle – even though they should. It is all the car manufacturers’ fault for putting the indicator lever on the steering column so close to the drivers’ left (or right index) finger to flick it on that it is inconvenient.

Just park your car in the road one day and observe how many drivers signal to pull out and pass it. If you can, observe a cyclist riding along and observe how many drivers signal to pass it.

navigator says:
24 October 2012

This issue must not degerate into them and us. As there are good and bad in all walks of life. It needs to be about what makes life safer and more convienent for all. there are cyclists who jump red lights..as do motorists… there are pedestrains who cant seem to see you on a bike.. there are joggers with i pods on oblivious to everything and motoprists who are using phones …so it goes on and on. what is needed is to change behaviour of all raod users so that everyone is aware of everyone else around them and there needs and weaknesses.Patience and tolerance would help. Look at holland and france they are much more tolerant in that respect. Its very anglo saxon to balme others and rant and rave rather than get on and find solutions. I’ll get me coat!

Mike says:
25 October 2012

Yes indeed Navigator you are so right, perhaps I should have started my original post by saying that I was only talking about one cyclist, not all in general, and that the other day I was driving at the legal speed limit, on a quite a busy road, and that I was aware of all traffic around me, behind and in front, I had safely moved to a position straddling the white line as there was a parked car further up the road, I was also aware of a cyclist near the gutter, because of the large distance between the cyclist and the parked car ahead there was no reason to Believe that he would pull out untill myself and indeed the car behind me had passed him, and this was further strengthened by the fact that he had not looked around, or made any indication to do so, however with none of the latter he did suddenly move out to a position where he could pass the parked car, as I was straddling the white line, this put him in line with my nearside headlamp, because I was not speeding, etc, etc, etc, I managed to brake, and saved the cyclist and the NHS from a lot of Pain and expense, can I say no thanks to the cyclist? Just thinking of Mr T. Anyway went home happy in the knowledge that My driving skills had, not for the first time done good. I can see why you commented, but must say that Mr T told of Id— car drivers opening doors on cyclists without looking, yes very wrong, sort of think there may be a common link with my post, that’s all.

BMW Z4 says:
5 December 2012

Do cyclists more closely associate themselves with pedestrains or drivers? If a Red light means stop to motorists, what is the statutory status of a red man to pedestrians? The difference expains a lot!

For all those who dont think a bicycle has an ID number, its written on the bottom of the bike or rear nearside fork. Should we make the vendor register the purchaser? It might make a job of the police even easier!

If all road users pass the Tufty Club test, then there would be so much less conflict between road users. The logical extension to this is YES; green cross code, before a Cycling exam, before a motoring test and repeated every 10 years or change of vehicle, discounted off your next VED if politically necessary. Failure to accurately read your bus timetable test aged 60 just leads to longer journey times!

Road skills are a progression in life – or not as the case may be

Living in very C. London and being a pedestrian I have observed that there is a war taking place.

On one side are the people who live in London and do not cycle, on the other are the cyclists themselves.

The difficulty has come about because of the unfortunate attitude of some of the cyclists themselves.

As an OAP I expect to be able to walk the pavements of my own city without having to jump out of the way of people bearing down on me at 20mph plus.

Typically when remonstrating with these people one is answered with a torrent of four letter words.

There is also the problem of cyclists jumping the lights, overall there now exists a situation where the matter is getting out of hand.

Why should it be that cyclists are untaxed, unlicensed and uninsured?

They should be.

If cyclists had to have licence plates they could be traced and prosecuted for road offences, just like any other road user, it is utterly wrong that they are not.

Sadly the Mayor of London is a cyclist, cycling has just won a large number of Olympic medals for our country and having done so is presently fire-proof and deeply P.C.,

Nothing will be done at the moment, but one day cyclists will be brought under control.

Bring it on!

Pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles do not mix well. We all need our own space for safety reasons and this must be addressed.

I cannot agree that cyclists should be taxed, licensed and insured. As things stand, cycling costs the public virtually nothing compared to cars and pedestrians. Although we do have a few cycle tracks, generally speaking cyclists have little compared to the thousands of miles of roads and footpaths, pedestrian crossings, etc.

In fact cyclists probably save the nation MILLIONS of pounds every year. We are fitter (lower cost to the NHS), make more seating available for public transport users, use very few natural resources (fuel) and produce negligible wear on the roads.

You should be feting cyclists, not condemning. Life would be a real b***h if we all took to motorised vehicles.

Mr Farrell, Sir,

It seems from your words that you are a cyclist and if this is indeed the case I am sure that you are a very polite person.

This country has of late done enough feting of cyclists, it is enough.

Living in very C.London I really only know about the situation here and this cycling business is a nightmare to the point of being intrusive upon ordinary people walking around, it is, to borrow your word, a b****.

The cyclists do not save the nation millions of pounds each year, as you claim, since they do not contribute to the public transport system upon which there appear to be many seats, Unlike you I use buses and Tubes the whole time, please take my word on this.

The real crowding occurs at the height of the rush hour when the streets are full of traffic anyway and cyclists are busy weaving in and out from all angles as getting their weekday dose of engine fumes, all this in the hope of saving a couple of minutes on their journey times.

Of course cyclists should be insured, each week there are reports of cyclists being in accidents and often being killed.

If we are to have cyclists seriously mixing it with cars, buses, vans, motorbikes and HGVs, five days a week, then the whole matter needs to be looked at and properly regulated. This takes money and it is the cyclists who use the roads that should pay through a special vehicle taxation and a number plate for identification purposes, just like any other road user – a bicycle is a vehicle (OUD).

I do understand that you feel fitter as a consequence of your cycling,however unless you can provide a source for the alleged millions of pounds saved by the NHS each year I do hope that you will forgive me for thinking that the figure that you quote is mere speculation based on supposition.

My own view is that many urban rush hour cyclists will die prematurely through having deeply inhaled twenty or thirty years of petrol and diesel fumes.

The burden on the State for their hospitalisation and then the subsequent costs of years of Social Security payments to their widows and children make one shudder.

There are many more people walking on footpaths in this country than there are cyclists and whilst I have little objection to the further building of new cycle ways I do object to cyclists often taking to the pavements in order to escape the traffic in the hope of getting what they perceive as being a faster run.

Can cyclists not see that by using the pavements, often at high speed, they put at risk the life and limb of others, or is it the case that cyclists couldn’t give a fig?

The despicable ‘could not care less’ attitude of many cyclists needs to be broken before it gets completely out of hand,

Sadly it would appear that the only way to achieve a better balance is through a serious crackdown on those who flout the law. As well as the law of the land being applied, a compulsory insurance and annual licencing system needs to introduced as soon as possible, if not everywhere then most certainly in London.

As has been suggested by others I am not yet in favour of a road test for cyclists. If and when it is deemed necessary for the general public good then of course it should be introduced without delay.

@JohnG
Your comment:
“The cyclists do not save the nation millions of pounds each year, as you claim, since they do not contribute to the public transport system upon which there appear to be many seats, Unlike you I use buses and Tubes the whole time, please take my word on this.”
Public transport systems are part funded through taxation. Ant cyclist who plays tax therefore funds public transport in two way’s:
– Directly through tax
– Indirectly by reducing public transport congestion during peak hours thereby reducing the capital burden to upgrade the system.

Your comment:
“Of course cyclists should be insured, each week there are reports of cyclists being in accidents and often being killed.”

Yes, some cyclists get killed or injured just like other road users. Can you qualify what you mean by insurance? No road user is required to be insured against injury. Cyclist fatalities tend to get more press than other road fatalities because they are less frequent.

If you are suggesting compulsory 3rd party insurance then this has been ruled out by both government and insurance companies because the risk doesn’t justify the expense. Evidence for that is in the fact that the CTC gives free 3rd party insurance with their membership and have done so for many years. If cyclists were the menace that you imply then this policy would have bankrupted the CTC years ago.

Your comment:
“I do understand that you feel fitter as a consequence of your cycling,however unless you can provide a source for the alleged millions of pounds saved by the NHS each year ”
From the BMA publication “cycling: Towards Health and Safety”. I’ll leave you to google that if you want to read it (which I doubt).

Your comment:
“My own view is that many urban rush hour cyclists will die prematurely through having deeply inhaled twenty or thirty years of petrol and diesel fumes.”

Unless you can back that with empirical evidence that’s more evidence of prejudice than reality.

Your comment:
“There are many more people walking on footpaths in this country than there are cyclists and whilst I have little objection to the further building of new cycle ways I do object to cyclists often taking to the pavements in order to escape the traffic in the hope of getting what they perceive as being a faster run.”

If you take care to look, this is also the view of cycling campaigns, who are not pushing for more safety at the expense of pedestrians, but for safer roads and infrastructure. In fact pedestrian safety and rights is included in CTC and LCC manifesto’s.

Perhaps if all cyclists felt safer on the roads there would be less cycling on the pavement.

Your comment:
“Sadly it would appear that the only way to achieve a better balance is through a serious crackdown on those who flout the law. ”

Agreed. Given that DfT figures show that cars kill and injure 200 times more pedestrians on the pavement than cyclists do, perhaps this would make a logical starting point.

Ian Hargreaves says:
3 January 2013

Hi both,

I’d like to chip in with my money’s worth too, if that’s ok? Too late, I’m gonna do it anyway, and I do this from Manchester’s perspective, though cycling here is still a little behind London, it still probably applies. I also speak as a bike courier, a cyclist of a decade, competitive cyclists, and pedestrian; however, I’m not a car driver but I am a car passenger and that gives some perspective.

A “war”, a little over dramatic, don’t you think?

“As an OAP I expect to be able to walk the pavements of my own city without having to jump out of the way of people bearing down on me at 20mph plus.”

I’m very surprised that you encounter a cyclists going at 20mph on the pavement. Obviously this is just dangerous, but let’s put this into perspective. Many cyclists can’t achieve 20mph easily and the chances of encountering a 20mph cyclist on the road is slim, let alone on the pavement. I’m not saying that this does not happen, but you make it sound like a daily occurrence, which it probably isn’t. It’s probably happened once and it’s stuck in your head. This does not make it ok, just let’s use some perspective here. Also, we need to consider the lack of provisions for cyclists on the roads, is it any wonder why they use pavements? Maybe cyclists should consider keeping it down to walking pace on the pavements?

“There is also the problem of cyclists jumping the lights, overall there now exists a situation where the matter is getting out of hand.”

Yes, this is a common occurrence; however, is it really a ‘problem’? Ok, firstly there are two types of red light jumping cyclists. Those that do it because they can and they don’t care about the danger they put themselves in and those that realise the need to get the ‘jump’ on the queue of cars behind them because it’s safer for the cyclists to do this. I suspect the latter is the most common, here’s why: Traffic lights as they currently stand are often dangerous for cyclists and don’t always work for cyclists (when they are sensor controlled). When cars set off from lights, they are in tight formation and have very little room. Add a cyclist to that mix and we have a fight for space. Cars will over-take the cyclist while in tight formation and this leaves barely any room for the cyclists and they get squashed up against the curb, it’s even worse when the cyclist wants to turn right just up the road. Cyclists are better off staying ahead of the queue, even if this means jumping the lights to get ahead of the cavalry charge. Trust me, it’s far safer this way, my safety takes precedence over the law I’m afraid.

“Why should it be that cyclists are untaxed, unlicensed and uninsured?”

This cyclist taxation argument is making me tired, and if another person says cyclists should pay tax I am going to scream. If nothing else, let’s assume cyclists should pay tax and this tax goes towards the road/cycle/pedestrian facilities, pedestrians should pay a crossing tax whenever they wish to cross the road that ‘the cars pay for’.

Further to this, cyclists are indeed subject to the taxes that car drivers pay. Well, in a way they are. “Road tax” as it’s colloquially known (vehicle excise duty as it is actually called) is based on the emissions of the tail pipe on a vehicle. So, gas gusslers pay higher amounts; economical, ultra-modern hybrid engine cars pay nothing; pedal-cycles have no tail-pipe and, therefore, no emissions. Incidentally, “road tax” is not directly allocated towards paying for the roads, this mainly comes out of local council taxation. Some does come out of general taxation, but that’s also made up from duty like cigarette and alcohol duty.

You’re unlicensed and uninsured argument is also weak. No country to the best of my knowledge (and this include Denmark and the Netherlands) makes cyclists do such things, and why should they? Let’s assume the small issue of where you mount license plates does not exist (you’re not going anywhere near any of my carbon frames with jubilee clips!), there’s still arguably little need. Cyclists, for the most part of mainly a harmless bunch of people, the stats also confirms this: from 2001 to 2010 twenty-two pedestrians were killed by cyclists, and 510 were seriously injured; compare this to 3722 killed by cars and 50179 killed by cars then you’ll see why drivers need I.D, insurance, lessons, and registration why it’s not been implemented on bikes yet. This may be because cyclists often pay their own price for mistakes.

“Sadly the Mayor of London is a cyclist, cycling has just won a large number of Olympic medals for our country and having done so is presently fire-proof and deeply P.C.,”

It’s not sad, and trust me on this one: Cycling will take over your and every city in the UK soon, this is already happening and you’ll be grateful when bikes are the only thing you’ll have to deal with when crossing the road as when there’s proper bike infrastructure, it’s been shown that cyclists obey to the rules as it’s safer for them to do so. Boris is starting this (slowly but surely). Imagine a street with fewer cars, less noise, pollution and fewer deaths?

“Pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles do not mix well. We all need our own space for safety reasons and this must be addressed.”

This is true; there needs to be a redirection of money towards good cycle infrastructure. Make it harder for cars and easier for bikes and more people will cycle. The few remaining car drivers will be grateful when there are fewer cars on the road.

“The cyclists do not save the nation millions of pounds each year, as you claim, since they do not contribute to the public transport system upon which there appear to be many seats, Unlike you I use buses and Tubes the whole time, please take my word on this.”

Contributing to public transport does not save money, it makes the private bus companies richer. When you ride a bike, you buy it yourself and pay for maintenance on it yourself, you also cause no road damage and ease congestion. Cyclist realy do save the country money.

“The real crowding occurs at the height of the rush hour when the streets are full of traffic anyway and cyclists are busy weaving in and out from all angles as getting their weekday dose of engine fumes, all this in the hope of saving a couple of minutes on their journey times.”

“couple of minutes”? It’s often substantially much more than a couple of minutes. This also saves the country money.

“The despicable ‘could not care less’ attitude of many cyclists needs to be broken before it gets completely out of hand,”

Cyclists get a far worse rap than what is needed, especially if you consider the behaviour of divers: Mobile-phone using, speeding, amber gambling, red-light jumping, none box junction following car drivers. As long as they’re protected in their cages, it does not matter as long as that mobile call gets answered, right?

We need to be looking at easing congestion and pollution in the cities and the best way to do that is not to be feting cyclits, but to be joining them.

Dear John G

Well I don’t live in London, but my son does and I do realise that traffic is far worse than most other areas. I live in relatively urban Chichester, but even here drivers still open car doors without looking, race to get ahead of you and then cut in front because there isn’t room for a car.

West Sussex CC seem to favour sharing footpaths with cyclists. Even part of the South Coast Cycle Route is shared with pedestrians or cars with virtually none being exclusively for cycles.

I strongly believe that investing money on cycleways and making the roads more cycle safe is the way forward. It is proven that cyclists are fitter and save the NHS money. We use minimal space compared to other vehicles, produce little pollution and cause virtually no wear or tear on the highways (or footpaths). If more people cycled, we would import less fuel and help our dire import/export imbalance.

In our area, I don’t witness cyclists jumping red lights: this is a problem specific to a minority of cyclists usually in large cities.

I don’t know how you intend to fit number plates to bicycles. To work like you think they should, they need to be sufficiently large to be readable from a distance, but they also need to be safe for pedestrians in a collision. An impossible combination (check out motorcycles which are vastly larger than bicycles).

A licence and insurance are ridiculous suggestions, but I do agree that schools should provide better training.

I will add, but totally irrelevant to my arguments, that I am also a pensioner well the wrong side of 65.

graham andrews says:
3 January 2013

wow guys this is getting heated as i expcted it would.Lets not forget
in the begining god invented man and woman– who walked a lot.
then man discovered the horse, donkey etc. life was good.
Then low the cities did smell and stink with horse dung. a solution was needed.
God invented the bicycle.. then man got off his ass and rode and got a sore ass.
Then as the great stink did grow. there was a great moaning and gnashing of teeth.
the devil came unto man and invented the motor car.
Only the rich , wealthy and the scribes and pharasisees could afford the automoblie.
Man did walk or ride his horse or bicycle.All was peace and harmony and god saw it was good.
Then came Henry Ford and the great wars. Yeah now man could afford a motor car and life was good again. (accept for the pedestrain and cyclist).(and the horse)
The cities did not smell anymore.Man did not need to walk anywhere.
Then out of the east came pestilance and fuel was in short supply and expensive.
Man had to learn to walk and ride a bicycle again. God smiled because it was good.
The great stink may yet come back (lol)
peace and harmony and shared space to all

So He rides a bike too! That’s how is everywhere all the time.

graham andrews says:
3 January 2013

and he invented Lycra. !

He should feel ashamed of himself/herself for doing such a bad job.

I would have designed them to have lights attached, and not as many cyclists after dark seem to think of them as, optional extras.

You have lousy drivers, lousy pedestrians and lousy cyclists. Adding to bureaucracy isn’t going to change that.
Cyclists are the group probably putting themselves at greater risk than any other road user (apart perhaps from motorcyclists). They, no doubt, develop of necessity a hightened degree of self- preservation. Cycling has worked well, allowing most people to have a low-cost independent form of transport from a young age.
A pity there isn’t a better organised (or maybe more widespread?) national cycling proficiency scheme to teach young people how to cycle as safely as possible. Perhaps this is something the cyclng organisations could do more to help with?
If I’ve repeated what has already been said, sorry. Myself and my children got a lot of pleasure out of cycling before driving, I think made us more considerate drivers, and I’d be sorry to see it regulated.

Ian Hargreaves says:
3 January 2013

Cars jumping red lights… they’re putting lives at risk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U6GtIdsA3zw

Are you telling me that its not only cyclists who do that? Well I’m gobsmacked!

Dear Terry Farrell,

Thank you for your kind and measured response.

I suppose that living in Chichester is a little different to living on the Embankment in SW1.

Twice each weekday it is akin to the Wild-West down here as the various types of vehicles fight for an edge in their lemming like rush to and from work, even the cyclists often abandon their designated lane and take to the pavements, it is mayhem.

Having put ‘bicycle number plates’ through Google, it now appears (somewhat surprisingly) that Mayor Boris rather supports this idea.

My overall position is that some sort of order needs to be brought to bear on what is most clearly a chaotic and dangerous situation.

Some of today’s comments feel emotional and ‘messianic’ thus for me they are not worth debating as the authors are fighting for what they consider to be their ‘rights’ and mostly will not entertain any other view or concerns in a cool and rational manner.

What needs to happen in London is that level headed people look into this matter and come up with a sensible set of proposals that can after due process be used as a basis for implementation, Other towns and cities must of course make their own decisions according to their needs.

It much interests me that my nephew, an amateur racing cyclist and living in Barnes Village, commutes to and from his office in the City of London in about thirteen to fifteen minutes, he has been known to complain that his journey can take a little longer due to the incompetence of other cyclists.

My nephew informs me that he is far from alone in high speed commuting and goes on to say that he is often passed by some of the fastest hand-built high speed racing bikes that are available today, we are talking well oner £10,000 a bike here.
Unlike many he takes the trouble to wear a helmet.

Insanity!

@John G
Your comment:
“Some of today’s comments feel emotional and ‘messianic’ thus for me they are not worth debating ”
But of course that would never apply to you.

And of course your statement “My nephew informs me that he is far from alone in high speed commuting and goes on to say that he is often passed by some of the fastest hand-built high speed racing bikes that are available today, we are talking well oner £10,000 a bike here”

As a regular cyclist I don’t think I have met another cyclist with a bike that cost over £5000. A quick search of the largest on-line bike retailer reveals only one bike listed over the £10000 price tag. Even the bike used by Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France (Pinarello Dogma 65.1) can be had for less than that at £8000.

So where are all these cyclists?

Never given to exaggeration and hyperbole are you?