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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Cyclists must take some responsibility for their own safety too.

Two incidents on this Europe trip where cyclists could've been on the wrong end of a shunt with a motor vehicle caused me to ponder what was a major contributing factor to two close shaves.

Firstly a major contributor has to be the sheer vulnerability of road cycling. To even mention this reality, sends cycling fanatics into apoplexy with shouts of 'victim blaming' from them because, one thing I do know about, is their determination that everything they do is so sensible that, when it goes wrong, the other guy, usually a driver, is to blame. 

The first incident involved me as the driver. I was trying to find a residential street in a small French Hamlet and had previously passed a couple of racing style a la Wiggo Lycra clads prior to turning off the main road and into a side turning. Driving very slowly looking for a street suddenly seeing it to my left, having almost passed it, a quick check in my mirrors and as expected, nothing following, I braked and turned at the same time. As I did so the two cyclists shot past on my right gesticulating and mouthing obscenities. The question is: 'Who is to blame?'.  Like most commercial vehicles, the rear view in mine is restricted to door mirrors and there were no cyclists alongside my vehicle when I made the manoeuvre. So they must have caught up with me and were immediately behind me and out of view. Had these been normal cyclists, instead of the racing kind with about 49 different gears, they would not have caught up with me for starters. But then didn't they notice two sets of GB plates as well as a funny registration plate? Wasn't it obvious to them that this was Johnny Foreigner a bit lost and looking for somewhere? In any case, if my actions didn't actually cause an accident and they were given time to evade one too, why the gesticulation and rudeness? What is it about these Lycra Clads? They had voluntarily placed themselves behind me and indeed their speed was a contributing factor to the scenario was it not?

The second incident was a classic of a Swiss woman driver just not seeing a Lycra Racing style cyclist and pulling out in front of him. He was riding on a cycleway to my right. Bearing in mind we were driving on the right side of the road, she was clearly intending to emerge from a shopping precinct across the cycleway. The cyclist saw her and indeed raised his arm and hand as if in anticipation and acknowledgement that she was about to stop except that she didn't. She did stop in shock but not until half of her vehicle was already over the cycleway and the cyclist had managed to swerve around the back of her. How he didn't collide with the car I have no idea. But again, having seen the danger, why keep up the pace? It's as if these cyclists are totally oblivious to their fragile frame compared with machinery.

What is common to both incidents is the speed of the cyclists and the belief that, because right is on their side, self protection isn't their major consideration. Surely it is and should be? Their adversary isn't drivers, other mere mortals, but large pieces of heavy metal. It isn't drivers cyclists collide with but big machines not matter who's to blame. So it is in the interests of cyclists to take responsibility for their speed and their safety instead of assuming the infallibility of complete strangers and then being angry and noisy about it all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Euro Cycling Myth continues to be wrong

Now let's be clear. Being pro driver and pro tax payer and pro community isn't automatically anti cyclist Ok?

We are now well into our second fact finding roads use European tour and that is because the demands of the UK cycle lobby on UK drivers, and taxpayers alike are very large and indeed to give cyclists what they want, amounts to many billions of pounds of infrastructure change and draconian laws and liabilities against drivers.

Part of their case is how much Europe does for cycling and cyclists and indeed how predominant cyclists are there.

It is a lie. Drivers' Union has already published a page of evidence based on last year's trip. Here

Paris is totally motorised traffic and we have pictures of whole unused Boris Bike racks and no cyclists in sight. Miles of very costly and empty cycle ways with the very occasional lycra clad enthusiast. Oh yes on Sunday pelotons of them, like joggers on wheels out for some fun, but are we really being asked to uproot our whole life to satisfy some-one's fetish?

London is not like Paris. Wide boulevards everywhere with plenty of green space to lay cycle tracks except in the centre.

Here in Geneva, and so far I have only driven at night, but hiving off carriageway to create cycle lanes is crazy. Motors are infrastructure whilst cycling isn't. This is a point we must hammer into politicians.

Out on the open road, the arteries and life blood of any nation, not a cyclist to be seen in hundreds of miles. So no Europe isn't depending on cyclists either. Come and see for yourselves.