NEED FOR SPEED: KEN BLOCK'S GYMKHANA SIX
Need for Speed and Ken Block present: Gymkhana SIX: The Ultimate Gymkhana Grid Course. Need For Speed's Racing Advisor Ken Block built the ultimate Gymkhana GRID course -- a real-life playground to showcase the sheer speed, fun and exhilarating action of driving. This means all-new obstacles that help raise the difficulty for Block to master in his Ford Fiesta ST RX43 2013 racecar, including maneuvering around a moving wrecking ball and sliding through narrow opening cut into the sides of shipping containers. Block also added videogame elements from Need for Speed Rivals. Watch as he executes multiple jumps, drifts around Lamborghini Aventadors and evades the videogame-themed Redview County cops on Segways in his own unique style. You can almost smell the burn of the rubber as he tears up this incredible course. So sit back and enjoy the ride.
Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?
Kurt McRobert By DANIEL DUANE
Published: November 9, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it. I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades. Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.
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ROOM FOR DEBATE
The Rules of the Road
Should the laws and infrastructure be altered to recognize differences between bikes and cars, or should cyclists and drivers be treated the same?
I made it home alive and bought a stationary bike trainer and workout DVDs with the ex-pro Robbie Ventura guiding virtual rides on Wisconsin farm roads, so that I could sweat safely in my California basement. Then I called my buddy Russ, one of 13,500 daily bike commuters in Washington, D.C. Russ swore cycling was harmless but confessed to awakening recently in a Level 4 trauma center, having been hit by a car he could not remember. Still, Russ insisted I could avoid harm by assuming that every driver was “a mouth-breathing drug addict with a murderous hatred for cyclists.”
The anecdotes mounted: my wife’s childhood friend was cycling with Mom and Dad when a city truck killed her; two of my father’s law partners, maimed. I began noticing “cyclist killed” news articles, like one about Amelie Le Moullac, 24, pedaling inside a bike lane in San Francisco’s SOMA district when a truck turned right and killed her. In these articles, I found a recurring phrase: to quote from The San Francisco Chronicle story about Ms. Le Moullac, “The truck driver stayed at the scene and was not cited.”
In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly.
You don’t have to be a lefty pinko cycling activist to find something weird about that. But try a Google search for “cyclist + accident” and you will find countless similar stories: on Nov. 2, for example, on the two-lane coastal highway near Santa Cruz, Calif., a northbound driver lost control and veered clear across southbound traffic, killing Joshua Alper, a 40-year-old librarian cycling in the southbound bike lane. As usual: no charges, no citation. Most online comments fall into two camps: cyclists outraged at inattentive drivers and wondering why cops don’t care; drivers furious at cyclists for clogging roads and flouting traffic laws.
My own view is that everybody’s a little right and that we’re at a scary cultural crossroads on the whole car/bike thing. American cities are dense enough — and almost half of urban car trips short enough, under three miles — that cities from Denver to Miami are putting in bike-share programs. If there’s one thing New York City’s incoming and departing mayors agree on, it’s the need for more bike lanes.
The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Nationwide, cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity after running, supporting a $6.1 billion industry that sold 18.7 million bikes last year.
But the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level. Nor does it help that many cyclists do ignore traffic laws. Every time I drive my car through San Francisco, I see cyclists running stop signs like immortal, entitled fools. So I understand the impulse to see cyclists as recreational risk takers who deserve their fate.
But studies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene. When two cars crash, everybody agrees that one of the two drivers may well be to blame; cops consider it their job to gather evidence toward that determination. But when a car hits a bike, it’s like there’s a collective cultural impulse to say, “Oh, well, accidents happen.” If your 13-year-old daughter bikes to school tomorrow inside a freshly painted bike lane, and a driver runs a stop sign and kills her and then says to the cop, “Gee, I so totally did not mean to do that,” that will most likely be good enough.
“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.
Laws do forbid reckless driving, gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter. The problem, according to Ray Thomas, a Portland, Ore., attorney who specializes in bike law, is that “jurors identify with drivers.” Convictions carry life-destroying penalties, up to six years in prison, Mr. Thomas pointed out, and jurors “just think, well, I could make the same mistake. So they don’t convict.” That’s why police officers and prosecutors don’t bother making arrests. Most cops spend their lives in cars, too, so that’s where their sympathies lie.
Take Sgt. Richard Ernst of the San Francisco Police Department, who confronted people holding a memorial at the scene of Ms. Le Moullac’s death. Parking his squad car in the bike lane, forcing other cyclists into the very traffic that killed Ms. Le Moullac, Sergeant Ernst berated those gathered, according to witnesses, and insisted that Ms. Le Moullac had been at fault. Days earlier, the department had told cycling activists that it had been unable to find surveillance footage of the crash.
Provoked by Sergeant Ernst, people at the memorial decided to look for themselves. It took them all of 10 minutes to find an auto shop nearby with a camera that had footage of the incident. The police eventually admitted that the truck driver was at fault, but they still have not pressed charges.
Smart people are working to change all this. Protected bike lanes are popping up in some cities, separated from car traffic. Several states have passed Vulnerable User Laws placing extra responsibility on drivers to avoid harming cyclists and pedestrians. Nobody wants to kill a cyclist, but the total absence of consequence does little to focus the mind. These laws seek to correct that with penalties soft enough for authorities to be willing to use them, but severe enough to make drivers pay attention. In the Oregon version, that means a license suspension and a maximum fine of $12,500 or up to 200 hours of community service and a traffic-safety course.
Cycling debates often break along predictable lines — rural-suburban conservatives opposed to spending a red cent on bike safety, urban liberals in favor. But cycling isn’t sky diving. It’s not just thrill-seeking, or self-indulgence. It’s a sensible response to a changing transportation environment, with a clear social upside in terms of better public health, less traffic and lower emissions. The world is going this way regardless, toward ever denser cities and resulting changes in law and infrastructure. But the most important changes, with the potential to save the most lives, are the ones we can make in our attitudes.
So here’s my proposal: Every time you get on a bike, from this moment forward, obey the letter of the law in every traffic exchange everywhere to help drivers (and police officers) view cyclists as predictable users of the road who deserve respect. And every time you get behind the wheel, remember that even the slightest inattention can maim or kill a human being enjoying a legitimate form of transportation. That alone will make the streets a little safer, although for now I’m sticking to the basement and maybe the occasional country road.
Daniel Duane is a contributing editor for Men’s Journal.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 10, 2013, on page SR6 of the
¿Pasa algo por matar ciclistas? (I)
Por: Pablo León | 27 de noviembre de 2013
Guerra cultural entre bicis y coches.
Hace un par de semanas un editorial del New York Times arrancaba con esta cuestión: It´s ok to kill cyclist? (¿Pasa algo por matar ciclistas? )Tras un leve accidente, la seguridad sobre el sillín comenzó a rondar en la cabeza de Daniel Duane, autor del artículo de opinión, usuario de la bici y confeso defensor de la misma. “Empecé a prestar atención a los accidentes ciclistas y a las personas muertas”, explicaba en el texto Duane. Tras un análisis sobre las consecuencias legales de atropellar a un ciclista, concluía que en la mayoría de estados de Estados Unidos, si no había drogas implicadas o fuga, el conductor que había matado a un pedaleante no recibía una amonestación acorde con la gravedad de su acción. Además de hacer estallar las redes sociales con comentarios de defensores de la bici y haters (los que odian ) los pedales, generó una interesante cuestión: ¿protege la sociedad a los ciclistas?
Seattle. 2011. Un adolescente atropella a un ciclista de 49 años. La policía le multa con 42 dólares porque el chaval no estaba borracho y no había conducido de manera temeraria. “Si buscas en Google accidente y ciclista se pueden encontrar historias semejantes”, denuncia Duane en su artículo. Solo hay agravantes cuando el conductor se da a la fuga o ha consumido algún tipo de estupefaciente.
Este verano, un joven de 26 años atropelló, en el madrileño barrio del Tetuán, a las 6 de la mañana a Oscar Fernández mientras iba al trabajo en su bici. Se dio a la fuga. Fernandez murió. Un par de días después, la policía le encontró. Tenía el carnet retirado y asumen que huyó porque podría haber estado borracho. El juez le tomó testimonio y le dejó en libertad con cargos. La indignación de los pedaleantes no se hizo esperar. “No más ciclistas, asesinados”, gritaban en una manifestación que días después recorrió la capital reclamando justicia.
“Matar sale barato”, se lamentaba el hermano de Fernández. Cuando se produce un accidente entre dos coches todo el mundo entiende que ha habido un responsable. La policía interviene en el lugar para determinar ese grado de responsabilidad. Cuando la misma situación se produce entre un coche y una bici, parece que existe un impulso cultural a pensar que los accidentes son inevitables. “Los jueces se identifican con los conductores. Los policías se identifican con los conductores. Hay una especie de empatía casi inevitable porque todos van en coche”, resume Duane en el editorial.
Los ciclistas sienten que viven una cierta indefensión. En Estados Unidos, uno de los países menos bicifriendly ( biciamistosos) del mundo, la industria de los pedales movió en 2012, 6.100 milliones de dólares y vendió 18,7 millones de bicicletas. Europa compra más bicis que coches al año desde hace tiempo. Italia y España se unieron a esta tendencia el pasado ejercicio. La bicicleta pública se está extendiendo por las principales capitales del mundo y lo mismo ocurre con la cultura ciclista. La legislación, la educación y las infraestructuras, sin embargo, no han evolucionado tan rápido. Un ejemplo, la velocidad en áreas urbanas. Aunque se habla de reducción, no se controla el cumplimiento. Este mismo mes, por ejemplo, cinco ciclistas han fallecido en las calles de Londres.
Las normas están pensadas para los coches. Algunas se han adaptado a las motos. Las bicicletas no poseen amparo legal específico. “En España, la nueva Ley de Tráfico quería paliar esta indefensión, pero la normativa que defiende es completamente aberrante y anticiclista”, denuncian desde Conbici, coordinadora que aglutina a más de 55 asociaciones de toda España y que defiende al colectivo. En general, los ciclistas consideran que la ley debería reconocer las diferencias entres bicis y coches y no tratarlos de manera semejante.
Mientras la normativa no avanza, algunos ciclistas la interpretan a su manera. Ignoran algunas normas o copian la legislación vigente en otros países que permite interpretar algunos semáforos rojos como ambar o circular a contramano. Actitudes que irritan a conductores y que transmiten la sensación de que el ciclista hace lo que quiere. Un ser sin obligaciones y por lo tanto, según esgrimen algunos, sin derechos.
En el espacio urbano se está viviendo un conflicto cultural. Alguno lo elevan a la categoría de guerra. En su reflexión, Duane hace varios apuntes con respecto al lenguaje empleado en los artículos periodísticos que describían los accidentes. Y cómo, de alguna manera, insinuaban una cierta inevitablidad. Trasladado a España, cuando la prensa nacional se enfrenta a una muerte ciclista aparece recurrentemente el casco. En muchos medios, azuzados por la Dirección General de Tráfico y su deseo de imporner el casco obligatorio en ciudad, se puede ver repetida esta frase: “Y el ciclista no llevaba casco”. No importa que ese elemento no hubiera tenido relevancia en el suceso. Ni las condiciones del accidente. Esta frase esconde una sutil culpabilización del usuario de la bicicleta. "Es tu responsabilidad, por no ir protegido", se podría leer entre líneas.
En caso de atropello, la eficacia del casco es casi nula. Ni siquiera una armadura podría proteger el cuerpo de una persona frente al peso de un automóvil de más de 1.000 kilos. En siete de cada diez muertes ciclistas producidas en España estaba implicado otro vehículo, normalmente un coche o un camión. Y, a pesar de la guerra de cifras que se está viviendo para justificar la imposición, la mayoría de los ciclistas fallecidos el año pasado, el 63%, llevaba casco. De lo que se puede deducir que igual son necesarias otras políticas. Por otro lado, varios estudios estadounidenses sugieren que en más de la mitad de los accidente en los que ha habido un vehículo y una bicicleta implicados, el conductor había cometido algún tipo de descuido.
“Hay algo que no está funcionando bien en el sistema de justicia”, relataba Duane en su artículo de opinión. Evidentemente ocurre algo cuando, a pesar de los estudios científicos, la responsabilidad tácita del accidente recae, en última instancia, en los pedaleantes.
Mientras llega la cobertura legal, que debería emanar del poder público, el sentido común es la mejor arma para proteger a los ciclistas. Los pedaleantes siendo conscientes de lo vulnerables que son. Sin alarmismos sino haciéndose ver ocupando el medio del carril y por la noche llevando luces, por ejemplo. Los conductores teniendo en cuenta esa fragilidad; siendo conscientes de que pegar un acelerón al lado de una bicicleta, pasar demasiado cerca o rozarla puede tener consecuencias muy graves. Al volante, el menor despiste puede ser fatal si hay un usuario de la bicicleta implicado. Esta actitud, por ahora, debe surgir de los ciudadanos. Las calles de las ciudades en las que vivimos no pueden convertirse en un campo de batalla, con víctimas incluidas.
I don’t ride a bike, why should I support measures to boost cycling?
Even motoring presenter Jeremy Clarkson has previously spoken of the need to redesign roads for bikes BBC
Kaya Burgess Last updated at 3:20PM, May 2 2013
If you are not a regular cyclist, you may ask why you should support proposals to boost investment in safe cycle routes.
More than three quarters of a million people commute to work by bicycle in Britain every day, but you may not be one of them. So why should you care?
Building safer cycle routes would not only benefit those who cycle. It would also encourage hundreds of thousands more people to use their bikes to make short journeys instead of going by car or by train or bus. This would have benefits for motorists, pedestrians, parents, businesses and taxpayers.It would lead to less congested streets, less overcrowding on public transport, fewer deaths on the road, less NHS money wasted on obesity, a boost for the high street, less pollution, and a more affordable form of transport for those priced out by rising petrol prices and rail fares.
This will only happen if a greater proportion of the existing transport budget is spent on cycling, however.
Around 2 per cent of journeys in Britain are currently made by bike, leaping to more than 50 per cent in parts of Central London at rush hour and more than 10 per cent in towns like Bristol, York, Oxford and Cambridge. Yet less than 1 per cent of the transport budget is spent on cycle provision. A recent pledge from David Cameron to spend £94 million on cycling over the next three years amounts to just 0.2 per cent of the Department for Transport’s budget over the same period.
The 18 recommendations made in the Get Britain Cycling report - outlined here - can transform Britain’s streets and towns for everyone, regardless of whether or not they ride a bike.
Here are some arguments for why non-cyclists would benefit from these recommendations:
The main roads running through our villages, towns and cities are becoming a traffic-choked nightmare. Roads designed centuries ago for a gentle stream of vehicles are now clogged with millions of cars. For decades, government policy has simply tried to build more roads and force more capacity out of our creaking transport system. But as you will know if you have ever sat in an endless traffic jam or crawled slower than walking pace through a town centre, this approach is not working.
Petrol prices are rocketing, parking spaces are scarce and tailbacks are growing. And yet more than half of all journeys under five miles are made by car. In fact, more than two thirds of all car journeys are of five miles or less.
If the roads were designed with safe cycle lanes, and more secure cycle parking was built at key destinations, more people would be encouraged to use their bicycles for a quick trip to the post office, for popping to the shop for a pint of milk, for taking their kids to school and, indeed, for commuting to work. This would take huge numbers of motor vehicles off the roads, freeing them up for those who still need to use their car.
Furthermore, if junctions were better designed, there would be less conflict between cyclists and motorists when pulling away from traffic lights and turning corners. If cyclists were given their own four-second green-light phase – as currently happens at one roundabout in East London - they would be able to get ahead and clear of other traffic and there would be no risk of collision. If drivers took care not to stop in the cycle boxes at traffic lights, another source of conflict would also be removed. If segregated cycle lanes were installed to help cyclists navigate through or round dangerous crossroads and roundabouts, it would also increase safety and freedom for all road users.
Only a tiny proportion of cyclists misbehave on the roads, but it is still a major source of irritation for motorists when this small minority of cyclists jump red lights or cycle at night without lights. The petition backs calls in the Get Britain Cycling report for there to be better training available for cyclists to ensure they know how to cycle responsibly on the roads.
Research by Westminster Council found that 68 per cent of crashes between drivers and cyclists are the fault of the motorist, compared to 20 per cent which are the fault of the cyclist, so the report also calls for cyclist awareness to be a part of the driving test, so that all new and young drivers learn that giving cyclists extra space and time is crucial in avoiding crashes.
It is also important to note that cyclists are entitled to use the road because they pay council tax and income tax. The maintenance of the roads is not funded out of the “road tax” paid by motorists, which is actually called Vehicle Excise Duty and is linked to a vehicle’s emissions.
Even Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has praised cycling as a way of getting around. He last year described Copenhagen’s cycling culture as “fan-bleeding-tastic” and said: “Now I know that sounds like the ninth circle of hell, but that’s because you live in Britain, where cars and bikes share the road space. This cannot and does not work. It’s like putting a dog and a cat in a cage and expecting them to get along. They won’t, and as a result London is currently hosting an undeclared war. I am constantly irritated by cyclists and I’m sure they’re constantly irritated by me.
“City fathers have to choose. Cars or bicycles. And in Copenhagen they’ve gone for the bike.”
For these reasons and more, the AA – the country’s biggest motoring organisation – is backing the petition and asking its members to sign up.
A train, bus or Tube commuter
The Government is desperately seeking ways to alleviate the pressure on the public transport system. Rush-hour commuters packed like sardines into buses and trains are beginning to grumble, while rail fares continue to increase above inflation.
In major cities like London, research shows that new cyclists taking to the road are often abandoning public transport in favour of their bikes. The new Cycle Superhighway to be built along Victoria Embankment will carry 1,000 cyclists an hour – the equivalent of four Tube trains running along the District and Circle lines beneath.
Andrew Gilligan, London’s new cycling commissioner, said: “For a comparatively extremely modest amount of money, we can unlock significant capacity on the Tube.”
The same will be true all across the country. Packed buses and crammed train carriages can be alleviated by encouraging people to make short commutes by bicycles. If the roads are designed in such a way as to make cycling seem safe and inviting, many hundreds of thousands of people who are currently put off from cycling would take to their bikes, leaving you with a free seat on the train.
If more cycle racks were installed at train stations - and if trains had capacity to carry more bikes – people would also be encouraged to cycle rather than drive to the station and even to take their bike on board and cycle to work at the other end. This would reduce the need for packed car parks at train stations and reduce the cost of commuting longer distances by train.
In an age of spiralling rail fares, cycling is also a much more affordable way to travel for those who risk being priced out of public transport by fare hikes. The petition is backing the Get Britain Cycling report in its calls for greater investment in cycling as a means of alleviating pressure on the transport system.
Britain languishes near the bottom of the child obesity league tables in Europe. The Government’s own Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, said: “Where it is safe and appropriate to do so, cycling to school can bring important health benefits to children. What’s more, fitter children concentrate better in school. However, we have to make sure that cycling is safe and is seen to be safe.
“Bikeability [training] is a great way of equipping youngsters with the skills and awareness to cycle safely, but we need to educate other road users and create an environment in which children and their parents can cycle with confidence.”
Every parent should encourage their child to be active and take exercise, and cycling to school is a healthy, cheap and efficient way of doing this. But the roads have to be safe and inviting enough for a parent to feel comfortable about cycling to school with their children or letting their kids cycle alone.
Your child’s school should also offer comprehensive cycle training as part of the national curriculum, setting them up for a lifetime of being able to travel in this healthy and affordable way. There should also be safe routes to local schools to keep children safe on their bikes.
The Get Britain Cycling report, backed by The Times’s petition, calls for all these things.
Trying to get fit and healthy
We are all busy people. Official advice recommends taking 150 minutes – or 2½ hours – of physical activity per week, but we do not always have the time – or inclination – to get down the gym or go for a jog after a long day or long week of work.
Building physical activity in as part of your daily routine is by far the most efficient – and the cheapest – way of getting exercise. If you live within five to 10 miles of your workplace, why not travel by bike instead of sitting in your car or on a bus or train?
A five-mile journey across London takes a little over half an hour at a leisurely pace, giving you an hour a day – and five hours a week – of moderate exercise just while commuting to work.
There are other health benefits too. The Government’s Chief Medical Officer said that cycling can “help to prevent or manage over 20 long-term conditions, including heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and mental health problems”.
She added that the health benefits of cycling “far outweigh the risks”.
If the roads were better designed to protect and encourage cyclists - and if both cyclists and motorists were better trained in sharing the road responsibly - the health benefits for you and for the country would be enormous.
The NHS spends around £5 billion each year on tackling preventable diseases exacerbated by inactivity, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Around £16bn is currently being spent on the Crossrail project in London and a further £3bn on upgrades to the A9 road in Scotland. Spending on both of these individual rail and road projects far outstrips the total annual spend on cycling in the entire country. And yet, health experts told the Get Britain Cycling inquiry that investing in cycle provision is by far the most cost-effective form of transport spend, recouping £4 in health savings for every £1 invested.
Municipal authorities in Copenhagen added up the effect on health, productivity, congestion and time saved and found that society as a whole makes a profit of around 13 pence for every kilometre cycled on the roads. By the same criteria, society makes a net loss of 8 pence for every kilometre driven by car.
Furthermore, the maintenance of the roads is paid for out of general taxation, which is paid by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike through their council tax and income tax. The “road tax” paid by motorists is in fact called Vehicle Excise Duty and is linked to a car’s emissions. This money does not go back into maintaining the roads, and does not give motorists any greater right than cyclists to use the roads.
At a time of austerity, the Get Britain Cycling report does not call for extra funding to be created for investment in cycling. It instead asks that an appropriate proportion of existing transport budgets and preventative health budgets is reallocated to cycle provision, in order to reap the economic rewards of promoting cycling.
An employer or business
Sir Richard Branson, Lord Sugar, Barclays Bank, Sainsbury’s, Dragon’s Den dragon Piers Linney, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Business Secretary Vince Cable, and the Confederation of British Industry are all backing the Get Britain Cycling report.
As Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Implementation of the Get Britain Cycling recommendations would bring tangible business and economic benefits by reducing congestion, absenteeism, NHS costs and by producing a more creative and active workforce.”
Providing cycle racks, lockers and showers for employees encourages physical activity and can lead to a fitter and more alert workforce. Sponsoring local cycle schemes - in the same way that Barclays have sponsored hire bikes in London and Citigroup is doing the same in New York City – gives large companies a stake in the infrastructure that keeps a town moving and keeps its citizens healthy.
Signing up to tax-break cycle-to-work schemes will allow employees to buy bicycles and reap the benefits of cycling as a healthy way to travel. But the recommendations in the Get Britain Cycling report need to be implemented in order to make the roads safe and inviting enough for your employees to be happy to cycle to work.
Research in New York showed that cycle lanes in Manhattan led to a 35 per cent decrease in injuries on 8th Avenue, a 58 per cent decrease in injuries on 9th Avenue and a 49 per cent increase in retail sales on 9th Avenue.
Hundreds of pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles on the roads every year. Incidents where pedestrians are killed by cyclists are extremely rare, on average one every couple of years.
Reducing the number of cars on the road would not only benefit motorists who hate traffic jams, it would also make the roads safer for pedestrians, as long as all cycle routes are constructed in a way that is considerate to the needs of pedestrians, as well as cyclists.
People who cycle on pavements, though rare, are understandably seen as a menace by pedestrians. When questioned, many of these cyclists said they felt safer riding on the pavement because the roads were too dangerous.
This does not justify breaking the rules of the road – cyclists who do so should face sanctions from police – but the roads must be designed to make streets and junctions safer for cyclists and not force them to choose between cycling on a poorly designed, dangerous stretch of road or cycling illegally on the pavement.
If the roads were designed with safe and, where possible, segregated cycle lanes, it would keep cyclists safe from motorists and from pedestrians who step out into the road without looking [in collisions between pedestrians and cyclists, Westminster Council found that 60 per cent were the fault of the pedestrian] but it would also protect pedestrians from excessive motor traffic and from cyclists who ride illegally on the pavement.
A local council official or minister
Local high streets die when they become nothing more than a thoroughfare for motor traffic. Green space gets chewed up by ever more lanes of cars. Health bills rocket as obesity and inactivity grows. Fatal accidents increase in areas with high speed limits. Country lanes become race-tracks for young drivers. Parents no longer let their children play in the street or walk to school. Whole villages and towns become little more than glorified car parks to cope with extra capacity, encouraging local residents to leave at the first opportunity to seek somewhere less oppressive to live.
Transport planning expert Phil Jones said that councils should invest in cycling because: “Places that are pleasant to visit and live near do so much for the economy.” He added that the effect on tourism was also noteworthy.
How can a local council make these changes and, more importantly, how can they afford to? Mr Jones explained: “Local authorities need to identify a junction or stretch of road and set out objectives for how they want to improve it as a public space. They must collect data on who uses that junction and when, and include cyclists and pedestrians.
“They then need to commission a number of designs and have an open process of consultation on those. It does not have to cost millions of pounds. A council can have a vision that it works towards incrementally, collecting money from developments along the way.”
The Get Britain Cycling report calls on the Government to lead the way. It calls for design regulations to provide clearer guidance on best-practice for building cycle lanes. It calls for cycle lanes to be considered as a beneficiary of money spent by developers on the local community. It calls for more funding for schemes to be built and installed. It calls for all local councils to appoint a high-level cycling commissioner to analyse and push through change.
The petition asks the Government to act on these recommendations to help local councils transform their areas for the better.
Around 2 per of traffic on Britain’s roads is made up by people on bikes. In some towns, like Cambridge, this is as high as 30 per cent. Of all vehicles crossing bridges over the River Thames in London at rush hour, more than half are bicycles. It is time the Government took cycling seriously.
Cyclists have as much right to use the streets as any other road user. While they also have a responsibility to cycle in a law-abiding and considerate manner, they also have the right to be treated with respect by motorists on Britain’s roads. Most cyclists own a car while many motorists ride bikes – they are not two separate tribes, but are largely the same people, all just trying to get from A to B in peace and safety.
Motorists who leave only a few inches when overtaking a cyclist or who drive above the speed limit are endangering people’s lives. Drivers who stop in the cycle boxes at traffic lights are also endangering lives. Lorry firms who do not fit extra mirrors and sensors to detect and protect cyclists and pedestrians are responsible for an unacceptable death toll on the roads.
Cyclists who jump red lights because they cannot be bothered to wait are endangering their own lives, just as those who cycle without lights at night or cycle on busy pavements are taking unacceptable risks.
Everyone has a duty to use the roads responsibly, but the Government has a duty to ensure that those roads are safe enough for cyclists and motorists to share. Where possible, cycle lanes should be built which are segregated from traffic – this will benefit everyone. Every new stretch of road designed in this country must consider cycle provisions from the very outset.
The petition calls on the Government to make the road safe not only for the 760,000 people who already commute to work by bike, but for the millions more who would like to do so, but do not feel safe.
This is the Olympic legacy we were promised. Britain leads the world in competitive cycling, it is time we did the same for our commuters.