Chris Boardman says that while British roads are statistically safe, “it doesn’t look it and it doesn’t feel it.” The first cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester, whose mother was killed while riding her bike in Connah’s Quay last year, says that he now tries to do more of his riding off-road.
Boardman told The Guardian that he found riding in some areas “exhausting”.
“False modesty aside, I’m about as competent as it gets and I am constantly doing risk assessments. I’m looking at parked cars, seeing which way wheels are turning, everything that’s going on around me. It’s just exhausting. Whereas if I ride on a track or a trail I don’t have to do that and it’s just more pleasant these days,”
He added that for months after his mother’s death, he stopped cycling completely because he found road users’ behaviour depressing.
“I don’t want to see people behaving on a road in an aggressive way because, more than making me angry, it makes me depressed to see human beings treating each other that way. To see a human being treat someone who is vulnerable as an obstacle and give them no more thought than that. So I just avoid putting myself in that situation.”
North Wales police has said that on September 7, a 32-year-old man will go on trial charged causing Carol Boardman’s death by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice. A 31-year-old woman will also appear charged with perverting the course of justice.
In his new role, Boardman says he wants to spend billions improving the region in a bid to encourage motorists to ditch their cars in favour of bikes for many of their journeys.
“I’m not interested in cyclists ... I’m interested in the people in the cars. Getting them to change, it’s got to be easy, appealing and safe, in that order.”
He said that if cycling weren’t the easiest solution, not enough people would do it. “If it looks a bit intimidating, they are not going to do it. And that means space, and it means joined-up space. I’m only going to make a piece of cycling infrastructure if it’s joined up, otherwise it’s wasting everybody’s money.”