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.