Sustrans calls for action after 11 cyclist deaths in UK this month

Segregated lanes and quietways part of the solution, says charity

by John Stevenson   November 19, 2013  

Cycle path (CC licensed by C:Flickr)

It might be Road Safety Week, but for cyclists it’s looking more like Black November. Six cyclists have died on London’s roads so far this month, and elsewhere in the country there have been fatalities in Sheffield, Nantwich, Bath, Bristol, and Middlesborough. Active travel organisation Sustrans has called for action to stop the deaths, and suggested measures that would reduce the risk to cyclists.

The spate of deaths so far this month comes after a bad second quarter of the year. The number of cyclist casualties rose by 12 per cent between April and June this year compared to the same period last year and 2012 was the eighth year in a row that the number of seriously injured cyclists increased.

Sustrans policy director Jason Torrance said: “Urgent action must be taken by Government in light of the recent spate of deaths, to stop cycle casualties on our roads and to close the widening gap between improving safety of motorists and worsening safety of cyclists.”

The last few days have seen calls for action from many quarters. A die-in demonstration and vigil is being held outside Transport for London HQ on November 29.

The Save Our Cyclists petition has garnered over 30,000 names in five days.

But what sort of action is needed? The most widespread call from cycling activists has been for segregated cycle lanes that separate cycling from motor vehicles.

A Sustrans spokesman said: “We see segregated cycle lanes as a vital part of the solution to making it safer for people of all ages and abilities to cycle, however not in isolation. Together with lower speeds for cars, traffic free routes away from main roads or paths shared with pedestrians segregated routes improve safety and people’s perception of safety.”

The particular measures Sustrans would like to see include:

  • Creation and use of ‘quietways’- low traffic side streets as designated main cycle routes, as opposed to use of busy main roads
  • Street infrastructure designed for humans as opposed to cars
  • Greater adoption of 20mph zones as default
  • Better HGV driver training to deal with cyclists, possible ban at peak times
  • Adopt continental best practice, there’s no time/need for research- good quality methods are already out there

And mindful of the death and serious injury rate among cyclists elsewhere in the country, Sustrans says: “It’s a UK challenge, not just London.”

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mrmo wrote:

And all to often ridiculusly circuitous routing [for "quietways"]

...If i ride a bike i will take the most direct sensible route. if the choice is 9miles main road, or 10miles on sideroads i will consider the side roads, but if the alternative is 15-16miles then i am going to think WTF. If the main road route is 30mins and the side roads are 40mins what is 10mins, but if it is 60mins then again WTF!

Completely agree, and in fact I would go further and say that given the huge external costs associated with private motor transport and the physical exertion required for cycling, directness of cycle routes should be deliberately prioritised over motor vehicle routes. Much like the structure seen in the brilliant Groningen video on street films:
http://www.streetfilms.org/groningen-the-worlds-cycling-city/

posted by pmanc [112 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:18

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segregated lanes are not the answer. They will be not wide enough, so when fat bird on a bike gets into one we'll never get past.
They will have a raised lip to the right and if you do cross it you will incur the wrath of every motorist and his dog, more so that you do now.

They will cause more grief than there is now. The roads of the uk havent developed like those in Holland

posted by duc888 [30 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:30

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Going continental is a good idea, but if you copy the infrastructure without adopting the legislative environment in which it is embedded, you could actually make things worse. Dutch/Danish/Belgian/German infrastructure works (where it does work well, which is not everywhere) because of the different way people drive on continental Europe.

When we mention legislation, people sometimes jump straight to strict liability, but what I think is more important is that turning drivers are used to checking carefully for straight-on pedestrians before making turns in and out of side roads - they thus automatically "see" slow, vulnerable cyclists going straight on from a lane at the edge of the road even when they aren't looking out for them specifically. (They tend not to see faster cyclists in time - shoulder checks would be required for that, and not every driver is able or willing to perform shoulder checks.)

posted by bambergbike [84 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:30

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The main problem I have with 'cycle routes' and quietways is the lack of integration with the existing road network. There are plenty of cycle-only through-roads near me (Hackney), but the road signs say it's a no-through road. There tends to be no way onto routes from main roads, and if there is the junctions are unmarked, unsigned and unlit.

Cycle routes should actually go somewhere, and not be invented so councils can be seen to be doing something whilst either doing nothing or making things worse.

posted by teaboy [147 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:34

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mrmo wrote:
Quote:
Creation and use of ‘quietways’- low traffic side streets as designated main cycle routes, as opposed to use of busy main roads

This is the point i have real issue with. It sounds lovely, BUT....

Agree strongly. Basically this is a nicely phrased version of `get off "our" roads'. Part of the advantage of a bicycle is the freedom of choosing whatever route you need to get to where you going.

If Sustrans were pushing for segregated lanes along high-speed roads with low numbers of intersections; or even for something like a few good quality radial, true bicycle superhighways (no intersections, clover-leaf style exit/entrances, good lighting, regular surface cleaning, regular police patrols) then that would be positive.

But, maybe this will be be better for biodiversity?

Meanwhile Johnson is continuing the "blame the cyclists" game with an attack on those wearing headphones.

* Were those people recently killed all wearing headphones?
* What evidence is there that headphones actually lead to increased accident rates?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/19/boris-johnson-considers-ban...

posted by Ush [377 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:47

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pmanc wrote:
Much like the structure seen in the brilliant Groningen video on street films:
http://www.streetfilms.org/groningen-the-worlds-cycling-city/

Yep Groningen is amazing. But if people think that is something that can only be achieved in the Netherlands then take a good look at what they are doing right now in New York: reclaiming major roads as pedestrian areas; segregated cycle lanes; increases in cycling numbers; faster buses; increases in retail sales; big decreases in casualty rates.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LujWrkYsl64

posted by GrahamSt [71 posts]
19th November 2013 - 14:58

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GrahamSt wrote:
It's BikeAbility these days, but not all schools offer it. Hassle your local school and find out if they do.
http://bikeability.dft.gov.uk/schools/

My daughter, in year 6, has just done Bikeability levels 1 and 2. Very good it was, too.

However, they were told the training was going to stop due to council finance cuts. Unfortunately Shropshire Council considers iPads for councillors, the crumbling statue of a long-dead warmonger and erecting ugly, overpriced, over-budget sculptures to be far more important than our kids' lives or a decent ambulance service.
Sad
Am I angry? You betcha!

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posted by Simon E [1883 posts]
19th November 2013 - 15:19

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Doctor Fegg wrote:

I don't think you're right. AIUI part of the deal that will see the path extended up to Bishop's Cleeve is that Sustrans will give the GWSR usage of the trackbed north of Broadway (which Sustrans owns).

Different to my understanding, GWR owns the trackbed upto hunting butts and won't allow any cycling on the trackbed. and the whole project stalled 20 years ago at PoW stadium, the surface only came much more recently, it used to be crushed rock and was a joke to ride on!

The GWR are also pushing to extend there track all the way to the mainline at Honeybourne. So whilst a section at the broadway/honeybourne end belongs to rail paths, not sustrans, it doesn't look likely it will get cycle use from what i see.

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
19th November 2013 - 15:24

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mrmo wrote:
Quote:
Creation and use of ‘quietways’- low traffic side streets as designated main cycle routes, as opposed to use of busy main roads

This is the point i have real issue with. It sounds lovely, BUT.

side streets where kids are playing, drivers are failing to de-ice windscreens, where there are most junctions, etc.

And all to often ridiculusly circuitous routing.

If i ride a bike i will take the most direct sensible route. if the choice is 9miles main road, or 10miles on sideroads i will consider the side roads, but if the alternative is 15-16miles then i am going to think WTF. If the main road route is 30mins and the side roads are 40mins what is 10mins, but if it is 60mins then again WTF!

There has to be a balance, but bikes are traffic and have every right to use the roads, if an alternative is going to exist then it has to be realistic, it has to be clean, gritted when appropriate, well lit if urban, and to have a reasonable surface without too many potholes! there has to be a minimum of car/bike junction type interactions.

You raise a very good point. The de facto performance of a "quiet route" should, imho, always be measured in terms of the actual time it takes an average cyclist to get from A to B. Poor surfaces, hills, sharp bends, narrow or shared paths, the number of points where a cyclist is required to give way, and indeed the number of other cyclists on that route, can all be factors that can be argued about, but it is very easy to time a cyclist travelling from A to B. In fact, we're quite good at doing that, here in the UK.

So I propose that we should all be open minded about any initiatives but, rather than quibbling about all manner of issues, we should be focussed on just one thing - time.

It's a simple concept that everyone would understand, and we could more easily compare a projected time with the actual time, once the route was opened, as a direct performance indicator of the organisation concerned.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
19th November 2013 - 15:49

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My son has asked for a road bike for Xmas, everyday I point at the news & say that's why you're not getting one! Another day another dead cyclist. The police are not interested in fact they are just as bad, I was out cycling last Saturday on a country road & was passed by a cop car travelling with the blue lights but no sirens travelling at near supersonic speed which flew past me far too close!

posted by paulbisset [1 posts]
19th November 2013 - 17:40

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GrahamSt wrote:
Sustrans has 120 officers working in 1,400 schools to encourage cycling.

Does Sustrans release data that measures how effective this is? I ask as I've never had experience with it or its routes, but wonder how many parents allow their Sustrans-trained kids to use their bikes unsupervised, or how many schools welcome pupils arriving on their bikes.

posted by congokid [106 posts]
19th November 2013 - 18:07

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mrmo wrote:
GWR owns the trackbed upto hunting butts and won't allow any cycling on the trackbed [...] whilst a section at the broadway/honeybourne end belongs to rail paths, not sustrans, it doesn't look likely it will get cycle use from what i see.

I'll just say that, in due course, you could be pleasantly surprised on both these counts. Smile

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posted by Doctor Fegg [128 posts]
19th November 2013 - 18:20

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As an ex centre of excellence rider as a junior and young senior who ended up spending 18 months having cognitive brain therapy after being hit by a motorist on the wrong side of the road (he escaped prosecution completely) I have to comment that all this segregation stuff is ok but doesn't get to the root of the cause.

To my mind that is one very protected group in metal cages seemingly immune from laws of common sense and decency persistently driving into an extremely fragile and legally exposed secondary group with impunity.

We have hundreds of thousands of miles of perfectly suitable roads already, the problem is not necessarily segregation but simply the failure of government to give that vulnerable group any protection from the group acting as aggressor.

Like a playground where the seniors kill and assault the juniors on a daily basis instead of bringing the seniors into check with both punishment and widespread deterrent to end the culture of violence we instead sidestep that and concentrate efforts on erecting a flimsy fence to provide segregation.

I have to admit to having given up riding on the roads after other minor scrapes with my experience of the authorities treating all episodes with complete triviality, even after a previously banned motorist who deliberately drove at myself and a friend causing minor injury avoided any level of punishment. The police didn't even report the likelihood of his actions to insurers so the next time he presents he will pose as a responsible driver. Give it time and he will take a life, of course accidentally.

Training indoors is a poor substitute for something I had great passion for but until government and all its respective departments and personnel start taking road death seriously nothing will change.

Stay safe out there and let's keep the pressure up for widespread and drastic reform across the board, not just requests to be sidelined away from the roads to allow the dominance of the die hard motorist to continue.

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [115 posts]
19th November 2013 - 19:51

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Didn't YOU know that YOU are supposed to have a rearview mirror so that YOU can see him ? Another item to add to the " Hi Vis & Helmets " that some Cops decide , YOU are supposed to have ! Not that they are LEGAL Requirements , OR , can save you from the KAMIKAZE driving of some ?

Whilst riding London 2012 , i lost count of the number of times i saw Mr Plod , wander onto the Blue Paint , that was supposed to protect ME from the risk of Injury or WORSE !

English Speaking Countries have ONE Thing in common ! No " strict Liability & 1 1/2M safe pass Laws ! Here is a way that i think ALL Cycling Safety Org.s can HELP each other :

THis petition needs YOUR HELP :
https://www.change.org/de/Petitionen/ioc-chairman-thomas-bach-create-an-...

Nearly EVERY English Speaking Country refuses to have these " Strict Liability & 1 1/2M Safe Passing Laws ! Nearly Every EU Country has these Laws !

Thus it is NECESSARY for coordination across the World , Utilising THE BEST Initiatives available !

Why does it not bother YOU ? Even in the EU , there are mugs who think playing Chicken is OK , until I show up at their Clients Premises , Their Employers Yard and their Front Door , IF , i haven't stopped them at the side of the road , to remind them , that hitting me , puts them in the Dock/penitentiary , perhaps , EVEN their Employer also !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [378 posts]
19th November 2013 - 20:37

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The problem with Sustrans' suggestion is that all the accidents in London this week have happened at junctions whereas segregation is only practical between junctions. If they can come up with a way to practically segregate junctions then I might listen but otherwise its a non-solution to the real problem that seems more concerned with promoting themselves than cyclist safety.

posted by Tony [66 posts]
19th November 2013 - 20:48

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Problem with the traffic free cycle paths is inattentive pedestrians walking in groups filling the whole path, as well as dog walkers who often leave them off the lead or have silly extending dog leads that you can't see until you go over the handlebars.

posted by anewman [5 posts]
19th November 2013 - 22:11

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Just noting the cycle track at the top of the article isn't wide enough to accommodate two cyclist passing. Failure in design there methinks. Try again Mr/Mrs/Ms "Car Biased" highways designer.

One of the main cycleways from Marsh Mills into Plymouth, Devon is 6ft wide shared with walkers, joggers wearing headphones, Dogs on leads, pushchairs and has then been barracaded by Plymouth City Council by numerous sign posts along with a running surface that was worn out ten years ago.
I'll take the smooth road adjacent to it thanks. Thinking

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
19th November 2013 - 22:54

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Doctor Fegg wrote:
mrmo wrote:
GWR owns the trackbed upto hunting butts and won't allow any cycling on the trackbed [...] whilst a section at the broadway/honeybourne end belongs to rail paths, not sustrans, it doesn't look likely it will get cycle use from what i see.

I'll just say that, in due course, you could be pleasantly surprised on both these counts. Smile

I ****ing hope so, i work in Evesham live in Cheltenham and ride to work most days, if there is a decent route that means i don't have to ride racecourse hill then do it!!!!!!!!!

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
19th November 2013 - 22:58

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Quite a lot of the discussion here is about whether Sustrans routes fulfil their purpose but I think that's not what this article is about. This is about Sustrans adding their voice to the call for safer conditions for cycling generally and I'm glad they are. The more people shout the more likely it is that things will change.

Regarding BIkeability, it's alive and well. It's not part of the school curriculum but is optional. Parents have to pay though councils sometimes fund part of the cost. I think in London the whole cost is funded so it's effectively free. So takeup depends on how much the schools support it and how many parents are actually interested.

posted by horizontal dropout [144 posts]
19th November 2013 - 23:02

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Tony wrote:
The problem with Sustrans' suggestion is that all the accidents in London this week have happened at junctions whereas segregation is only practical between junctions. If they can come up with a way to practically segregate junctions then I might listen but otherwise its a non-solution to the real problem that seems more concerned with promoting themselves than cyclist safety.

http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/general-a2b-by-bike/major-cycleways-wer...

came across this the other day, i have no idea about how it is going, my only experience of cycling in NZ is watching the posers going back and forth on Tamaki drive, Auckland on their Cervelo's.

Just the idea of putting metal posts in places to try and stop cars cutting corners, I am not sure how well they work, but it struck me as an attempt to enforce separation and would be easier than constructing raised kerbs.

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
19th November 2013 - 23:07

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anewman wrote:
Problem with the traffic free cycle paths is inattentive pedestrians walking in groups filling the whole path, as well as dog walkers who often leave them off the lead or have silly extending dog leads that you can't see until you go over the handlebars.

Agreed about carelessness with dog-leads - but on the plus side, I'm glad that LEDs on dog collars have become commonplace. After dark the light on the dog is often the first warning that there's a pedestrian in the vicinity!

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [617 posts]
19th November 2013 - 23:17

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In Melbourne Au have some cycle lanes similar to the NZ above - the layout in the picture is dangerous - the lane takes you to the front in line with the left turning vehicles - without the cycle lane would normally take the middle of the lane or if possible to move across to the straight ahead lane
but with this type of segregation drivers expect you to stay in "your" lane
adding advanced stop boxes and early lights for cyclists fix the above but add complexity and are expensive and like all segregation don't deal with the real issues of driver behaviour

posted by antigee [143 posts]
19th November 2013 - 23:31

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antigee wrote:
like all segregation don't deal with the real issues of driver behaviour

Elephant in the room time,

There are far too many angry drivers out there, and the police are either powerless? or not bothered!

A bad cyclist will get themselves killed, a bad driver will kill everyone but themselves!

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
20th November 2013 - 9:25

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mrmo wrote:
Tony wrote:
The problem with Sustrans' suggestion is that all the accidents in London this week have happened at junctions whereas segregation is only practical between junctions. If they can come up with a way to practically segregate junctions then I might listen but otherwise its a non-solution to the real problem that seems more concerned with promoting themselves than cyclist safety.

http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/general-a2b-by-bike/major-cycleways-wer...

came across this the other day, i have no idea about how it is going, my only experience of cycling in NZ is watching the posers going back and forth on Tamaki drive, Auckland on their Cervelo's.

Just the idea of putting metal posts in places to try and stop cars cutting corners, I am not sure how well they work, but it struck me as an attempt to enforce separation and would be easier than constructing raised kerbs.

How does one turn right (or even go straight on) on this sort of junction, particuaraly if you reach it when the lights are green? I'm open minded but this looks mental to me.

posted by Matt eaton [260 posts]
20th November 2013 - 13:08

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mrmo wrote:
Quote:
Creation and use of ‘quietways’- low traffic side streets as designated main cycle routes, as opposed to use of busy main roads

This is the point i have real issue with. It sounds lovely, BUT.

side streets where kids are playing, drivers are failing to de-ice windscreens, where there are most junctions, etc.

And all to often ridiculusly circuitous routing.

If i ride a bike i will take the most direct sensible route. if the choice is 9miles main road, or 10miles on sideroads i will consider the side roads, but if the alternative is 15-16miles then i am going to think WTF. If the main road route is 30mins and the side roads are 40mins what is 10mins, but if it is 60mins then again WTF!

There has to be a balance, but bikes are traffic and have every right to use the roads, if an alternative is going to exist then it has to be realistic, it has to be clean, gritted when appropriate, well lit if urban, and to have a reasonable surface without too many potholes! there has to be a minimum of car/bike junction type interactions.

riding quiet backstreet roads is only an option for the casual weekend rider, out to see some sights and meander about.
anyone wanting to actually transport themselves from home to work cant be expected to use quiet side roads.
for a start many of them are one way.
then theres the problem of poor surfacing, pot holes etc.
after that we come to the worst problem with this idea - the nature of side streets mean lots of t junctions and cross roads. the stop / start nature of the ride makes it so slow you may as well walk to work, on the pavement taking the most direct route along a main road as it will be faster!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

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posted by hood [111 posts]
20th November 2013 - 14:25

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Matt eaton wrote:
mrmo wrote:
Tony wrote:
The problem with Sustrans' suggestion is that all the accidents in London this week have happened at junctions whereas segregation is only practical between junctions. If they can come up with a way to practically segregate junctions then I might listen but otherwise its a non-solution to the real problem that seems more concerned with promoting themselves than cyclist safety.

http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/general-a2b-by-bike/major-cycleways-wer...

came across this the other day, i have no idea about how it is going, my only experience of cycling in NZ is watching the posers going back and forth on Tamaki drive, Auckland on their Cervelo's.

Just the idea of putting metal posts in places to try and stop cars cutting corners, I am not sure how well they work, but it struck me as an attempt to enforce separation and would be easier than constructing raised kerbs.

How does one turn right (or even go straight on) on this sort of junction, particuaraly if you reach it when the lights are green? I'm open minded but this looks mental to me.

Bunnyhop!

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [165 posts]
20th November 2013 - 14:58

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Matt eaton wrote:

How does one turn right (or even go straight on) on this sort of junction, particuaraly if you reach it when the lights are green? I'm open minded but this looks mental to me.

I know, i put them up as an idea, not perfect, but i doubt there is a "perfect" solution. I know from experience that some drivers will straight line corners, in effect squeezing any rider in the cycle lane, also helps to enforce the no driving in the cycle lane/filter lane.

I guess you would have to pick the side of the bollards depending on whether turning right/left, or going straight on. I can see it working if it covers areas of a path but not all the path. But then how does the raised kerb approach on CS2 work in london if you want to take a right side turning?? or are there no un-traffic lighted junctions?

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posted by mrmo [1006 posts]
20th November 2013 - 16:47

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Thanks John. Where did you source the data on accidents and deaths this year? I have been trying to find year-to-date stats for cyclist deaths in the uk for 2013 to no avail.

posted by Mikeduff [24 posts]
20th November 2013 - 23:40

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hood wrote:
riding quiet backstreet roads is only an option for the casual weekend rider, out to see some sights and meander about.
anyone wanting to actually transport themselves from home to work cant be expected to use quiet side roads.
for a start many of them are one way.

It works in Hackney, where the buzzword is "filtered permeability" (translation: put bollards in to close the backstreets to through motor traffic, but let cyclists through, and provide cycle contraflows for one-way streets). I'm not saying it's as good as full segregation nor that it's enough in itself, but it can be a useful complement.

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posted by Doctor Fegg [128 posts]
21st November 2013 - 10:28

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Much good sense written here - thank god! sanctuary!

I'd accept that sustrans are only helping the debate etc - but their one track solution as others have already pointed out is not a full solution.

Its not feasible to have segregated paths from everywhere to everywhere and eventually what segregated paths there are have to relinquish cycles onto the main infrastructure, where the drivers have now had less exposure to cyclists, whilst underlying the fallacious beliefs of some that cyclists don;t really therefore belong on the roads. It also creates another infrastructure for upkeep. Not withstanding the issues that are then created by the cycle becoming the HGV of any shared path - whoever dreamt up this particular lunacy needs committing.

The only solution is better education and generally better road layouts. Segregating traffic can only create even greater divisions.

posted by didds [41 posts]
26th November 2013 - 0:12

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