In the wake of MP Andrea Leadsom’s 10 minute rule Bill proposing a 'dangerous cycling' law, the BBC has got involved in the debate both via this web article and its national radio networks.
While we should perhaps be encouraged that cycling appears to be increasingly deemed a subject worth talking about in the mainstream media, it is also clear from reading comments attached to the BBC article that public opinion can be so polarised as to render sensible debate practically impossible.
But there are voices of reason out there and responding to the BBC article entitled “Is dangerous cycling a problem?” a commenter called Jonathan appears to reflect a view which is typical of many converts to cycling who are keen but worried about the perceived dangers.
“If there were more cycle routes and lanes provided then cyclists would be less likely to venture on to pavements, a behaviour which is largely caused by fear of being injured or killed by a motor vehicle when cycling on the road,” he says.
“I'm nervous about cycling on the road myself now after being involved in a traffic accident, where the driver is now being prosecuted for dangerous driving.”
But then, inevitably, there’s a tar-brush wielding naysayer, Hswet, who claims: “Cyclists can be every bit as aggressive, ignorant and disregarding of pedestrians as they consider motorists are to them.
“A significant proportion seem to think that they have greater rights than both other groups and responsibility to neither.
“Just for the record! When cycling, you are on a vehicle: pedestrians have right of way. While you're at it, get some insurance!”
While this may be intended as a taunt, in some countries, Germany for example, citizens normally take out third party liability insurance to cover for any day-to-day accidents outside of the home which could cause them to be sued.
But another cycling commenter is probably typical of most cyclists’ experience of what goes on around them out on the roads.
“Let's face it,” says Bikerbiker, “there are nutters on all modes of transport and all should be penalised accordingly.
“I am a keen cyclist, but I have seen reckless cycling habits from individuals and organised groups. A common appreciation and awareness for safety and other users is required and a system to enforce it.”
That’s a view that most of us would probably agree with, yet while it’s clear that cycling is moving up the media, political and general public’s agenda it appears that the interest is often reactive rather than measured and forward-looking.
The issues of cycling infrastructure, cycling rules and their enforcement have not yet reached a level of public interest which will allow all three to be considered holistically and at a national level.
And as our near neighbours the Dutch amply demonstrate, surely, that has got to be the way forward.