Cheltenham cyclists respond to protests over proposals to end town-centre bike ban

Cars present greater risk to pedestrians, and new measures would take cyclists off ring road, say campaigners

by Simon_MacMichael   January 11, 2012  

Cheltenham Municipal Offices (picture - Saffron Blaze, Wikimedia Commons)

Cycle campaigners in Cheltenham have replied to concerns by the town’s mayor and a charity that works with the visually impaired that allowing bikes to be ridden through pedestrianised zones in the town centre may put disabled people at risk.

Last week, the Macular Disease Society held a demonstration outside the town’s Municipal Offices against the proposals, which have been put forward by Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire County Council.

But John Mallows, chairman of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign, told This Is Gloucestershire that the potential problem was being exaggerated and that motorised traffic posed a greater danger to safety.

"Very few serious pedestrian casualties arise from cycling,” he explained. “When they do, they are usually on the road and as a result, I suspect, of pedestrians stepping off the kerb without checking.

"Without wanting to foster a cycling versus driving spat, pedestrians are at far greater risk on the pavements from cars."

Mr Mallow also urged the relevant authorities, in considering whether to lift the ban on cycling in sections of the High Street and the Promenade, to take account of the larger picture in respect of safety, including the fact that the proposed measures would reduce the risk of injury to cyclists who currently have to use the ring road.

The newspaper added that Gloucestershire County Council’s Highways department plans to undertake a trial, possibly including new cycle lanes, ahead of any permanent changes being put in place, and that police have said they have problems enforcing the existing ban.
 

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"pedestrians are at far greater risk on the pavements from cars".

Out of interest, what are the stats behind that? I can see that more serious injuries would result from a car/pedestrian incident than a bike/pedestrian incident, but are there many incidents of cars hitting pedestrians on pavements each year? Or of cyclists doing so? I'd expect the numbers to be pretty small...

posted by step-hent [644 posts]
11th January 2012 - 15:21

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It's surprisingly high. I can't find the stats offhand but I've seen examples before including vehicles mounting the pavement and vehicles driving too close and striking pedestrians with the wing mirror. It's much higher than you'd think certainly.

There was an incident a year or so ago that made the papers for a day or so where a woman had mounted the kerb and run into a group of schoolchildren. Fortunately, no-one seriously injured but can you imagine the outcry if it had been a cyclist running into them?! As it was, it made a couple of column inches and everyone went about their business as usual. Sad

posted by crazy-legs [473 posts]
11th January 2012 - 15:33

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I have seen the stats and can't remember if it was dft or ons, but the number 60 rings a bell. Far more than you would think.

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
11th January 2012 - 15:45

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From the CTC: http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/campaigns/0911_CP_RLJ-pavement_brf.pdf
In London between 2001-05 there were 17 pedestrians killed by motor vehicles on pavements or verges, and not a single cyclist.

posted by thereverent [295 posts]
11th January 2012 - 16:23

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Figures for 2006-2010 from the Office of National Statistics. Note the "0" for 2009:

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Deaths (persons) |
|------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Year | (a) Pedestrian hit by pedal cycle | (b) Pedestrian hit by car, pick-up or truck |
|------+------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2006 | 3 | 233 |
|------+------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2007 | 6 | 267 |
|------+------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2008 | 3 | 247 |
|------+------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2009 | 0 | 141 |
|------+------------------------------+----------------------------------|
| 2010 | 2 | 123 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

I'm no great statistician but it looks like you're 72 times more likely to be run over and killed on the pavement by a car than a bike.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
11th January 2012 - 16:38

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... and does anyone here really think that something as unimportant as *facts* will have an impact on the debate?

posted by mad_scot_rider [533 posts]
11th January 2012 - 16:52

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so how can we turn these facts into emotional arguments? Wink

posted by a.jumper [679 posts]
11th January 2012 - 17:57

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It needs to be pointed out that in a cyclist/pedestrian collision, the cyclist usually comes off worse.
The ped gets a knock or a shove, whereas the cyclist goes skidding along the tarmac on his face.

That's why cyclists try very hard not to collide with ANYTHING - because they literally go flying.

Binky

posted by davebinks [123 posts]
11th January 2012 - 18:11

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"pedestrians are at far greater risk on the pavements from cars".

Pedestrian casualties in reported1 road accidents: 2008
Road Accident Statistics Factsheet No. 3 – January 2010

Single vehicle accidents with pedestrian casualties
Fatal pedestrian casualties
Pedal cycle 1
Motorcycle 15
Car 310
Bus or coach 35
LGV 27
HGV 62
Pedestrian location: ....• 10 per cent were on the pavement or verge.

------

Pedestrian casualties in road accidents: 2007
Road Accident Statistics Factsheet No. 3 – November 2008

Single vehicle accidents with pedestrian casualties
Fatal pedestrian casualties
Pedal cycle 3
Motorcycle 28
Car 336
Bus or coach 42
LGV 40
HGV 66

Pedestrian location: .... • 10 per cent were on the pavement or verge.

Source: DfT

posted by Recumbenteer [142 posts]
11th January 2012 - 19:26

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"John Mallows, chairman of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign, told This Is Gloucestershire that the potential problem was being exaggerated and that motorised traffic posed a greater danger to safety."

Hallelujah brother. Exactly right. If only that "it's not always safest to mix with cars" message might one day get through to the UK's foremost advocate of vehicular cycling, a Mr John Franklin.

Who is, er, treasurer and membership secretary of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Cycling Campaign.

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posted by Doctor Fegg [128 posts]
12th January 2012 - 0:45

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Isn't this a story about cyclists being encouraged to share pedestrian space? Please correct me if I have misunderstood.

It's self-evident that there will be more pedestrian casualties caused by cars than by bikes. a) there are far more cars than bikes b) bikes are generally not allowed on pavements and rarely go out of control onto pavements with momentum sufficent to cause a fatality.

There are lots of arguments against "shared space" where pedestrians and cyclists have to compete with cars. These apply, to a lesser degree to schemes mixing pedestrians and bikes. My fuller explanation is at http://samsaundersbristol.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/shared-space/ There are plenty of other blogs about at the moment making similar points.

The first paragraph of this article mentions the Macular Disease Society. Pedestrians with restricted sight are at greater risk, and will suffer more apprehension and anxiety about walking through areas where cyclists are encouraged to travel. Other vulnerable groups - the frail, those with restricted hearing and small children will also be put at a disadvantage.

I am an active, lifelong cyclist. I really don't like "shared areas", where I cannot cycle confidently from A to B according to well-established rules of the road. As a pedestrian I really dislike the prospect of cyclists appearing from any direction at any speed. Walking should not demand full attention to road craft. Talking on a phone, daydreaming, window shopping, admiring the architecture ... all these ordinary pedestrian things put me at risk of conflict with a cyclist who has not seem me or who has not anticipated my unexpected step into the path of the bike I have not seen or heard. As a pedestrian I should not have to look behind me before stopping to check my shopping list.

Walking and cycling are both pretty safe ... all those stats are irrelevant. My own argument against shared space is about quality of life and freedom from anxiety - especially for the most vulnerable. There is evidence that shared areas have low casualty rates. One suggested reason is that vulnerable people avoid them.

I believe that cyclists should lobby for properly designed segregation from motor vehicles, not for usurping busy pedestrian space.

But I live in Bristol: perhaps life in Cheltenham is more gracious.

posted by Sam Saunders [20 posts]
12th January 2012 - 10:11

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