A transport expert has dismissed a Conservative MSP’s suggestion that a bike could cause more damage in a crash than a car. The claim was made by Edward Mountain during a discussion about 20mph limits in a Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee session this week.
As reported in our live blog earlier in the week, Mountain said: “With the 20mph in Edinburgh, it’s been quite interesting. If you drive along at 20mph, as a driver, the thing you notice more than anything else is the cyclists who are doing 30mph or 40mph down the hill.”
He continued: “Injury is about developing kilojoules of energy at a point of impact in a limited area. Now a bicycle will do that – probably more effectively on a point of impact – because it’ll be very narrow where they hit.
“I know cyclists are a problem, but do you think that’ll make people wonder: the car driver will think, ‘well I’m being overtaken by a cyclist’ – does it make it any easier for a car driver to come to terms with it? And should we not be thinking about cyclists as well?”
In response, transport expert Dr Adrian Davis branded this “an outlier question” and “a minor point.”
Davis said that getting up to 30mph on a bike was quite difficult for most people and, “the science is about mass. There is an equation about that. It’s the mass of the vehicle that’s going to do more damage.
“Being hit by an HGV is the one you really don’t want to get hit by because you’ll be dead. I think there is a bit of difference with respect, chair. The mass is most important.”
He added: “I don’t think that’s a main point for us today. Most people are hit by motor vehicles.”
Jodi Gordon from Cycle Law Scotland told The National: “The idea the average cyclist will now be overtaking motor vehicles and potentially causing people to speed simply re-enforces the ‘us and them’ culture we already have on our roads.
“It is counter-productive. We also need to understand the destructive disparity argument when comparing motor vehicles to other road users.
“However, In order to make our roads safer we need to have mutual respect for each other and all adhere to the rules of the road, that includes speed limits.
“Cyclists, like other road users have to be aware of hazards and to travel at excess speed only reduces their ability to react to situations as they arise, such as pedestrians stepping off a pavement.
“We all have a duty of care to ourselves and each other when out on the road. The 20mph speed limit should be a positive discussion about change in road culture and protection of the most vulnerable.”