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

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.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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