A recent letter appeared in the Echo under the headline “All cycling in pedestrian areas should be banned” containing the following paragraphs -
“I have followed the recent string of letters relating to the danger from cyclists in the Market Place and other pedestrianised areas (Market Street, Chuchgate etc.).
Quite clearly, in the interests of safety a complete ban on cyclists passing through these areas needs to be implemented.” “What is needed is a clear, unambiguous ban, probably for 24 hours a day, but certainly for longer than the current 10am to 4pm.”
“I have followed the recent string of letters relating to the danger from cyclists in the Market Place and other pedestrianised areas (Market Street, Chuchgate etc.). Quite clearly, in the interests of safety a complete ban on cyclists passing through these areas needs to be implemented.”
“What is needed is a clear, unambiguous ban, probably for 24 hours a day, but certainly for longer than the current 10am to 4pm.”
Such opinions are unfortunately fairly representative of a large proportion of the population who perceive cyclists to be a threatening nuisance rather than the solution to many of the problems of our modern day society.
Your editor responded along the lines that there was no evidence that cyclists over the last 20 years had caused “serious injuries or worse” and that the benefits to society far outweigh the minimal dangers posed by mixing cyclists and pedestrians.
However there are other points I might have included such as:
- We were originally assured both for the Market Place and Leicester Road that cyclists would have 24 hour access and this was withdrawn. Somewhat surreptitiously in the case of Leicester Road when cyclists were removed with the buses.
- Forcing cyclists out onto the one way system is not a good way to promote cycling as many would-be cyclists are deterred by what is perceived to be a dangerous road environment.
- Rogue cyclists use the pedestrianised areas anyway and are the most likely to pose a threat. Law abiding cyclists no longer cycling in the pedestrian areas are the least likely to pose a threat to pedestrians. Andy Selkeld, Cycling Co-ordinator at Leicester City Council, reports that the number of complaints about cyclists in the pedestrian area had remained constant after they started allowing cycling. This demonstrates that banning cyclists only removes the responsible cyclists while being ineffective in dealing with those causing problems. It is highly unlikely that a local authority or the police will waste resources strictly enforcing such bans as their time can be used to much better effect elsewhere so there is no point in having them.
- The evidence is that mixing cyclists and pedestrians does not impose unacceptable levels of risk - http://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/file_public/pedestrians4rbrf.pdf .
- Police and street wardens need to prioritise what really poses a threat to the well-being of people in Loughborough – motor vehicles.
- If cyclists are to be banned why not delivery vehicles and mobility scooters which also pose a small threat to pedestrians?
No change to County Road Safety Policy
The County Council's Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on 12th September 2016 and reviewed Road Safety in the County. The meeting papers and minutes can be read at goo.gl/avQUFx .
The officers, in preparing their recommendations, took a rather narrow view of casualty reduction. They ignore the casualties from diabetes, heart disease etc. that are caused by people driving rather than using an active form of transport. Then when looking at the economic case they ignore the cost of people running cars to ferry themselves and children about because they consider it too dangerous to walk or cycle.
Thus they conclude that “In terms of KSI’s the statistical evidence indicates that fewer accidents occur on 30 mph roads and more accidents occur on rural higher speed roads” and that “This suggests that our scarce resources should be targeted at these higher speed limit roads, rather than reducing speed limits in urban areas by having a blanket 20 mph speed limit policy at this time."
This is despite the fact that the document states "This contains six strategic transport goals, of which Goal 5 is to have a transport system that improves the safety, health and security of residents."
Simply frightening walkers and cyclists off the roads will certainly reduce road casualties, but life years lost through inactivity will exceed those lost due to traffic casualties.
Max Hunt, a County Councillor and member of the Campaign, made the point that “Unfortunately the report does not give sufficient weight to vulnerable groups who are more often the victims and does not sufficiently distinguish between the types of collision or accidents.” and “We need to increase protection for vulnerable groups, including elderly, young, pedestrians and cyclists, including routes to schools.”