Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby rudge » 31 Mar 2014, 7:39am

I have just gone back to a part of France that I have been visiting for years. There is a narrow road by the river, an old tow path. They have installed speed bumps, sharp little ones that on a bike shake your teeth at any speed but are probably quite comfortable in a car. A quiet little road that I have ridden on hundreds of times - ruined

There is a mania for traffic calming in France. They move the kerbs to right and left, making the road snake. They plonk mini roundabouts at crossroads that don't need them. They install islands which either narrow the road or force the traffic out and back again as it goes past. They are especially fond of a sort of speed bump that bounces you up onto a plateau and then bounces you down again some metres further on. They mark forbidden parts of the road in a contrasting colour or texture to make vehicles snake.

I know these things are supposed to make the road safer for all users. I haven't read the research, so I don't know if they do in fact improve safety. What I know is that they make me feel less safe.

I suppose they work, if they work, by forcing drivers to pay attention to the abnormal features as they reach them. But if they are paying more attention to the features, they have less capacity to pay attention to me, don't they? I feel anxious when a massive lorry swerves through the chicane in a little village, passing me by inches because it's room has been deliberately reduced.

And if the drivers are forced to use up their allocation of attention in just getting through the feature then so am I. If I have to concentrate on not hitting one of these intrusive kerbs I have less mental capacity free to pay attention to the very vehicles that were, supposedly, to be made safer.

And no, I don't know what to do about it.

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby Vorpal » 31 Mar 2014, 9:17am

Mark1978 wrote:
AndyBSG wrote:Not really looking for pipe dream fantasies such as fully segregated cycle lanes on all conceivable routes

Why not? That's not beyond the realms of possibility at all. Obviously you can't have them on *all* routes, that would be silly, but the majority of non-motorway main roads could have a segregated path. They manage it in NL.

But they don't, to the extent that people in the UK seem to think they do. There are segregated paths along some main routes in the Netherlands, especially leading into Amsterdam and the surrounding towns. But in other places, the cycle routes take completely different routes, using farm tracks, canal paths or converted lanes. In many rural areas, especially if there is only a short distance between villages, there aren't actually any segregated alternatives. They just reduce the speed limits on one or more of the roads. One road is treated as the main route, while another is kept quiet, so that it is attractive as a cycle route. I have been in rural areas in the Netherlands where there isn't a big difference between Dutch and British infrastructure. The differences lie in speed limits, junction design, and sign posting, rather than where cyclists ride. The same goes for Denmark. The majority of the miles (kilometres? ;) ) I have cycled in Denmark have been on country lanes, rather than segregated paths. It's just that I took quiet routes, sign posted for cyclists, rather than the main roads.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby Vorpal » 31 Mar 2014, 9:42am

Is this thread about getting more people to cycle? or making things safer?

The two aren't always the same thing... statistically, Britain's roads are fairly safe. Of course statistics don't have much to say about things like close passes and driver belligerence. Nor do they help us to understand the intimidation factor. But segregated facilities aftern make the actual safety worse for cyclists. Event he Dutch and Danes acknowledge this. Teh reason is that the majority of crashes occur at junctions, and segregated facilities make junctions more, rather than less complex. This iw why the Dutch have begun segrating junctions, as well as the paths in recent years.

If we want to make things safer, we need to provide on-street routes that are quiet by
- reducing speed limits
- reducing motor traffic permeability, while at the same time keeping or improving pedal cycle impermeability
- slow traffic speed at junctions and make them more cycle-friendly
- sign post cycle routes to reduce confusion, and make it less likely that visiting/touring cyclists will end up on dual carriageway A roads
- allowing cycling in most pedestrian zones
- creating more pedestrianised areas in village and town centres
- routing through traffic around shopping and residential areas

Please note that this doesn't mean that I think all segregation is bad. It is appropriate in some places, and especially on long distance & high speed limit routes with few junctions.

And perhaps, the above safety improvements won't increase the numbers of people who cycle as quickly as cycle paths and cycle lanes will.

But other things may do as much (in conjunction with the above) to get more people cycling:
- universally available cycle training
- National Standards cycle training included in the national curriculum
- pedal cycle awareness campaigns
- presumed / strict liability
- improved enforcement & sentencing
- periodic retests for driving licences

Full segregation (even to a high standard) without other improvements will only serve to make things worse for cyclists. The inevitable outcome of that is that cyclists will be banned from the roads for their own good.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby ChrisPAmbulance » 14 Apr 2014, 2:45pm

To misquote Shakespeare...

First, lets kill all the drivers.

Seriously though, there needs to be a major shift in attitude from all concerned away from the competition. As long as road users (Cars, Bikes, Lorries et al) see others as just something in their way, then there will always be problems. This sort of attitude seems to get worse during hard times when people start to see everyone else as a threat ecomonically so they see it in other ways as well (I've seen anti-cyling sentiment equated to racism in several places).

There seem to be 2 ways of achieving this

1. Separate the main protagonists (Segregated cycle ways, bus lanes etc)
2. Deal with the attitude (Not much I can say about this without turning it into a political rant)

I can't see either of these happening here in the near future. As cyclists, we have to protect ourselves, the first is to ride defensively, don't put yourselves at risk. I learned a hell of a lot from a defensive driving course that my company sent me on, one of the main points was always make sure you've got an escape route. Maybe campaign for defensive riding courses, i'm sure it would be popular. Secondly, my personal high horse is don't give ammunition to the enemy. Every time a cyclist goes through a red light, it confirms the negative image to the drivers left behind. Every cyclist on a pavement gives more argument to those who would ban us from city centres.

I have found that the vast majority of people are courteous on the road. And even a lot of those that aren't are often defused by having courtesy extended to them. So if a driver is stuck behind you, don't sit there seething, go down to single file and wave them through. It works wonders 98% of the time.

We are better than the road hogs - let's show it.

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby Mark1978 » 14 Apr 2014, 3:13pm

If we had this sort of infrastructure safety wouldn't be an issue ... therlands/

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby Postboxer » 14 Apr 2014, 6:41pm

I don't know, they're all on the wrong side of the road and over that bridge looks a bit steep for me.

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Re: Cycling Safety - What Needs To Change?

Postby fatmac » 17 Apr 2014, 6:03pm

The simple answer is drivers attitudes.
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