Sunday, January 15, 2006

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

How to Not Get Hit by Cars

An excellent article. Number nine pretty much states all the reasons why I personally am against riding on pavaments.


richardgrassick said...

Oh dear, I have to strongly disagree, Mike!

1. Maybe this article is a Manual of Surviving Cars in the UK in 2006, but it is certainly not a manual for Holland or Germany, 2006.

2. The tone is so utterly defensive - cycling as a form of defensive warfare - that it puts off 90% of potential cyclists, particularly women.

3. I want to enjoy my cycling. Try cycling in Darlo at 2am when there are almost no cars and you get an idea of what cycling could be like without the daily battle with the hordes of cars on the roads.

4. What kind of future do we want for cyclists? Safety helmets, crash bars, flourescent clothing, and high insurance premiums, or safe, secure, direct cycling without the stress?

5. How are we going to encourage others to start cycling, or indeed to encourage their kids, if cycling is clearly destined to become even more dangerous as we share roads with an ever growing number of cars?

6. The Crosswalk Slam - "Cars aren't expecting bikes in the crosswalk". As we have regularly argued, they damn well should expect bikes, and give way, especially as cycle paths are being built in these locations. Who has the greatest moral claim to right of way - the dirty polluting car or the green bike? The notion that bikes must give way to cars is simply power politics - might is right.

7. Contrary to the House of Lords debate about cycling last night (26th January), pavement cyclists are not all "yobs". There is another form of cycling on pavements that is respectful of pedestrians' rights, that gives due consideration to the safety of pedestrians, but that recognises that taking your bike on the road in many circumstances is 1,000 times more live-endangering than using the pavement with care.

8. Until the politicians offer genuinely safe cycle routes, where cyclists are properly protected/separated from cars, we should remind them that things have to improve by using pavements sensitively. I refuse to send my kids on to Woodland Road on a bike pending the building of safe key cycle routes into the town centre.

9. How Not to Get Hit by Cars? Be creative, think outside the box, and develop new, safe routes of your own. They are much more pleasurable than fighting with traffic, encourage a more sedate pace of cycling, and will probably add a few years on to your life as well!!

Mike said...

But more bikes on roads makes the roads safer for bikes as drivers get more used to seeing them and looking for them on the roads. 4% of Darlington journeys is the 'critical mass' I believe?

Riding home from work in about ten minutes from now, I won't be using the cycle paths available to me, because they are unlit and have very few people using them (my closest commuting-near-miss so far has been when some lads threw a stone at me on the Riverside Path), I'll be riding up North Road where the cars are all travelling slower than I am anyway.

The problem, in my opinion, is that having cycling on footpaths turns bikes into two-wheeled pedestrians and reinforces the view that bikes shouldn't be on the road.

Bikes on pavements are only safe, in my opinion, when travelling at around walking speed; why not just walk?

"What kind of future do we want for cyclists? Safety helmets, crash bars, flourescent clothing, and high insurance premiums, or safe, secure, direct cycling without the stress?" - I don't agree that helmets and flourescent clothing prevent safe secure direct cycling, they just seem like common sense to me.

Confident use of roads is safe. I linked to this website because I though some of the tips were useful for developing that confidence. Once a cyclist starts riding like they have a right to be on the road, it becomes much safer. To me, this is how to get a stress-free, safe, quick and direct ride. Anytime I have used cycle routes in towns, I have found the routes to be convoluted and indirect (Sustrans seems to really like 90 degree turns and zig-zag routes).

Roads can also be made safer, with 20mph speed limits in urban areas, removal of white lines and better-designed 'road furniture'.

Children (i.e. under 11s) are a different matter, as their mass and speed is generally much lower than adult cyclists, making them safer on the pavement. The two secondary school aged kids I regularly see riding along Abbey Road pavement and straight across side streets without pausing or looking, while wearing dark clothes and having no lights are definately not safe...

I'd rather have safe roads than segregated cycling ghettos which seems to be the current option.

I think we might have to agree to disagree on helmets and riding on pavements :)

Mike said...

Having said all that though, the photos of cyclists in Holland in the following link are fantastic (click the PDF preview link on the page to see loads more)!

richardgrassick said...

Yep, it seems to be a matter of how we see current attitudes, and how they can be changed. For example, the idea that cyclists on pavements have to go at walking speed is only the case when sharing an inadequate space with a lot of pedestrians. But there is actually an awful lot of wide pavement in Darlo too.

Interesting thing about shared pavements abroad is how the cyclist's routes weave off and on to roads in a way that is designed for speed. Not a give way sign in sight, except where cars need to give way to cyclists.

Perhaps we need BOTH approaches - bikes reclaiming roads and getting traffic speed down to bike speeds, and better and quicker cycle routes that move off and on to safe roads.

Mike said...

I think both approaches are needed. There are roads that I'd happily ride down that I'd not be happy riding while my daughter was on a seat on the bike (actually, that's most, if not all, roads).

The people riding on pavements also need to be more careful: I saw a lad of about 9 almost killed this morning, when he crossed the end og Greenbank Road after the pedestrian crossing lights has gone to red and the cars on Greenbank Road had been given the green light. Luckily, the taxi next to me saw him and stopped, but it was very close. He was wearing black and had no lights fitted, so the same thing a few weeks ago may have killed him...

Mike said...

And, two pavement cyclists almost knocked me off my bike yesterday. The first one when crossing the road without looking, the second when he rejoined the road without looking.