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Segregated lanes and quietways part of the solution, says charity

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

45 comments

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Andy G [26 posts] 3 years ago
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Agree with what they are saying but it would be nice if Sustrans' routes were up to scratch for non-leisure riding. Those in Trafford are either not surfaced or the tarmac has just been thrown at the ground leaving a rough ride that damages bikes unless they run soft tyres. I know some other areas are better but there needs to be a minimum acceptable standard so that people know they can trust them.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes it's not just London although clearly there is a huge problem there. Watching the new last night there seems a clear link with HGVs, the example in' Paris was given where taking HGVs off the roads in daylight had reduced the number of accidents by a significant amount.

What chance do you think Boris and his cronies will introduce this is?

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 3 years ago
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@mrmo

I agree

There's a signposted quiet route from my home into Glasgow - which I avoid like the plague

Loads of small turnings, cars parked on both sides blocking vision and unexpected vehicles emerging from driveways are just a few of the additional hazards

For preference I use the nearby dual-carriageway instead - yeah it takes it bit more fortitude, but it is MUCH safer - and the fact it's quicker is just a bonus

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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I should add, that a badly designed/routed path is worse than no path. Explain to the average driver why you are not using the designated path. That the path is unsafe isn't their problem, you being on their* road and in their* way is.

* i use their, in the context that too many drivers believe that the car tax(sic) they pay gives them some primacy on the roads.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 3 years ago
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So much naysaying about Sustrans here.  2
They DO have good routes. I ride 11 miles to work on the NCN72. It is more direct than the road route (much of which is 70mph dual carriageway) and it takes me about the same time as it does when I take the car.

Please don't write off all Sustrans routes. Some of them are lovely.

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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http://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_open_spaces/547/honey...

//www.cheltenham.gov.uk/images/honeybourne_line.jpg)

When it isn't snowy/icey it can be a nice route, if you ignore the odd drunk, broken bottle etc (to be fair it is kept clean).

Apparently this is on Route 41, but as the council and GCHQ paid for it, what exactly is the point of Sustrans? There is no continuation of the route into outlying villages.

As far as i am aware the talks with Cheltenham Racecourse and the GWR have nothing to do with Sustrans, this is all local campaigners and the council.

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Andy G [26 posts] 3 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:

So much naysaying about Sustrans here.  2
They DO have good routes. I ride 11 miles to work on the NCN72. It is more direct than the road route (much of which is 70mph dual carriageway) and it takes me about the same time as it does when I take the car.

Please don't write off all Sustrans routes. Some of them are lovely.

That's why I said that some areas are good, I've experienced them and I'm very jealous and annoyed at the crap we get dealt. I suspect that the issue is not going to be Sustrans directly but the other partners they have to work - Trafford are crap for cyclists, we're lucky if we get lip service.

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Colin Peyresourde [1794 posts] 3 years ago
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That is not an uneducated list of wants for safer cycling.

Although these road ways can make cycling safer I still think that more effort needs to be made to improve cyclists education.

There will always be a time when you must depart from one of these road ways and ride on multi-use roads, and when people do feel suitably equipped and able to do so (i.e. appropriately trained).

Compulsory training for school kids and meaningful attempts to provide cycle training for adults.

If there were proper cycle super highways it would be great. Many of you know the experience of riding the Prudential 100 - commuting would be so easy.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

When it isn't snowy/icey it can be a nice route, if you ignore the odd drunk, broken bottle etc (to be fair it is kept clean).

Apparently this is on Route 41, but as the council and GCHQ paid for it, what exactly is the point of Sustrans?

For one thing they supply the volunteer rangers that keep an eye on the route and help to keep it clean, as well as fixing what issues they can and reporting bigger issues to the council.

You'll also probably find that Sustrans offered guidance on aspects of the route and pressured the council to tackle it properly. And Sustrans will be promoting the route locally and supplying maps, signage etc.

Sustrans don't pay for routes themselves unless they have no other choice as it is a hugely expensive option and they simply don't have the funds for it.

Quote:

this is all local campaigners and the council.

Well I can't speak for that area, but round my way (North East) Sustrans are pretty active in assisting local campaigns and offering advice and guidance to the council.

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Do they still do cycling proficiency in schools?

Or are the kids too fat to fit on bikes now?  22

Maybe Bozza could get some funding from Barclays to reinstate this in schools in that London.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

Do they still do cycling proficiency in schools?

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/

allez neg wrote:

Or are the kids too fat to fit on bikes now?  22

Sustrans has 120 officers working in 1,400 schools to encourage cycling.
http://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-services/where-we-work/schools

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Good to know that its still happening in some places at least.

My boy is coming up to the age when I did cyc prof at school.

I'll ask the school and pass on the website details. Thanks.

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Leodis [422 posts] 3 years ago
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Sustrans route in Leeds I sometimes use is a joke. If you are not visiting a school, housing estate or wanting to get caught in extended dog lead then it is to be avoided.

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Doctor Fegg [146 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

As far as i am aware the talks with Cheltenham Racecourse and the GWR have nothing to do with Sustrans, this is all local campaigners and the council.

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).

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pmanc [208 posts] 3 years ago
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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/

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duc888 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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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

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bambergbike [89 posts] 3 years ago
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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.)

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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Ush [873 posts] 3 years ago
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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...

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 3 years ago
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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

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Simon E [2985 posts] 3 years ago
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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.
 2
Am I angry? You betcha!

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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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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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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paulbisset [1 post] 3 years ago
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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!

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congokid [303 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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Doctor Fegg [146 posts] 3 years ago
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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.  1

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ironmancole [333 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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skippy [414 posts] 3 years ago
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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 !

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Tony [125 posts] 3 years ago
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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.

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