Another Cyclist Dead. Another Ruling of Accidental Death.

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  • Another Cyclist Dead. Another Ruling of Accidental Death.
  • Premier Icon Bez
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    Anyone following the select commitee hearings on cycle safety today?

    Same old same old from most of the participants. Infrastructure and segregation, not changes in behaviour and respect. Very city-focused.

    what could be done to address the culture of inattentive and blinkered road use?

    There isn’t a quick fix, is there?

    In the book “Traffic” by Tom Vanderbilt, he cites studies which found that drivers can fail to register up to 1/3 of the things they see when behind the wheel. You can’t force drivers, doing the same lengthy commute in and out, every day, to become more attentive.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    Another classic there squadra. (extra dash at the end of your link by the way)

    SUV driver attempts to overtake a cyclist on the brow of a hill, surprised to find traffic coming the other way and thus runs the cyclist off the road.

    I see he even used the old “blinded by the low sun” defence, even though it was 1pm.

    Premier Icon Bez
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    There isn’t a quick fix, is there?

    Of course there is: Paint. And cameras on trucks.

    Except they’re not fixes, they’re just quick and they look like fixes. Paint just makes things worse.

    No, there’s no quick fix.

    GrahamS – going back a couple if hours (I’ve been out) to the question of prosecutions after inquests, I wonder if if is not absolutely set in stone. I’m just thinking of PC Harwood who is now being prosecuted for manslaughter, a decision made after, and to some extent as a result of evidence heard at, Ian Tomlinson’s inquest. Doesn’t mean it’ll happen here, but suggests the holding and conclusion of an inquest does not prohibit a criminal prosecution. I wouldn’t be surprised if public opinion had some bearing on the CPS’s change of heart in that case (although evidence heard at that inquest was, I think, the official reason for the review). I doubt this case will attract the same publicity, but who knows?

    I guess like many I’d rather see cyclists retain a right to use roads and that drivers are punished/educated properly, rather than get segregated…bike paths seem the thin end of a wedge in that regard.

    This is veering into a whole other thread now, but the assumption that countries with lots of cycle infrastructure somehow marginalise cyclists is wrong.

    If, as in some countries, 1 in 5 people cycle, it means that more people know a cyclist, work with a cyclist, and feel outraged when something bad happens to a cyclist.

    I’ve seen Dutch reports of less serious collisions which couldn’t contrast more with the typical UK press story. Drivers called reckless, murderers, etc. Not really very helpful but it indicates a completely different underlying attitude to the sort of stuff the UK press dishes up.

    Premier Icon cynic-al
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    fair enough MrA, but with some of (I have no idea how many) the UK’s drivers seemingly thinking they own the roads and cyclists shouldn’t be there, I think bike-paths could take on a different role here.

    The starting culture re. cyclists in those countries is very different from the start.

    Premier Icon dazh
    Subscriber

    what could be done to address the culture of inattentive and blinkered road use?

    Punitive sentences combined with the driver-presumed-guilty rule. Being a pinko liberal, I’d normally be against this sort of thing but it really is the only quick solution. I’d suggest handing down an automatic life driving ban for anyone who seriously injures or kills a cyclist due to careless driving, accompanied by a lengthy prison sentence for dangerous driving.

    Ironically car travel is safer now than it’s ever been, due to roads being increasingly designed for idiots. The prime example is motorways, which I believe have the lowest accident rate per mile of any type of road. They’re wide, straight, featureless and even the markings on them are designed specifically to make you feel that you’re going slower than you really are.

    So while car travel is getting safer, it’s not being done in a way that makes drivers more alert to more vulnerable road users, or more amenable to driving slower, or changing their lifestyle so commuting diatnces are shorter.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    I doubt this case will attract the same publicity, but who knows?

    I’ve so far seen it discussed (in appalled tones) here, on the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, by Carlton Reid, and the Cycling Silk. Even the comments on the newspaper article question the sense of it.

    But sadly I doubt it registered at all outside the cycling community. 🙁

    The starting culture re. cyclists in those countries is very different from the start.

    A key difference was the way they campaigned for road safety. Campaigns like the Times one are focused on “cyclists”, but “cyclist” in the UK is synonymous with “slightly odd man in hideous static-electric clothing”. The NL’s campaign was specifically focused around children, and the numbers killed in cycling accidents.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Nothing against segregated bike paths here.

    I’m very happy that my commute to work is almost entirely on segregated cycle paths taking a nice direct route through the country park and alongside the Tyne with no greater hazard than suicidal wildlife and the odd dog egg. (*whisper* I don’t even wear a helmet for it)

    I would not commute by bike if I had to mix it up on the A-road – it is scary enough by car some mornings.

    But segregation isn’t a full answer. Bike paths can’t go everywhere. Sooner or later you have to use the road.

    Waht the experience of toehr coutries seems toshow is that tehr eare a number of strands to making cycling a safer – based around a rebalancing of priorities away from cars and towards cyclists and pedestrians

    Road engineering solutions including segregated cycleways in appropriate places,

    20 mph urban limits with cyclists having priority enshrined in law in appropriate places

    Assumed liability that the least vulnerable in an RTC is assumed at fault for civil liability unless they can show otherwise

    More rigorous enforcement of driving law

    Waht the experience of toehr coutries seems toshow is that tehr eare a number of strands to making cycling a safer – based around a rebalancing of priorities away from cars and towards cyclists and pedestrians

    Road engineering solutions including segregated cycleways in appropriate places,

    20 mph urban limits with cyclists having priority enshrined in law in appropriate places

    Assumed liability that the least vulnerable in an RTC is assumed at fault for civil liability unless they can show otherwise

    More rigorous enforcement of driving law

    It is a fallacy to believe this can be done without taking road space and convenience away from car drivers.

    Premier Icon Bez
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    fair enough MrA, but with some of (I have no idea how many) the UK’s drivers seemingly thinking they own the roads and cyclists shouldn’t be there, I think bike-paths could take on a different role here. The starting culture re. cyclists in those countries is very different from the start.

    This. The British are very good at pointing at arbitrarily drawn lines and citing their rights whilst pointing to them – and in Britain we’re also very good at putting lines in without really thinking too hard about their effects (when was the last time you saw a cycle lane that was as wide as you’d like it to be?). In mediterranean areas drivers often pretty much ignore the paint on the road and IME there’s much less bullishness about owning designated patches of tarmac.

    Also, infrastructure requires money and land. In rural areas of England it’s very hard to see how any beneficial infrastructure could be added in most locations.

    Any solution which enables road users to share existing space in safety is universally applicable to all locations.

    Premier Icon cynic-al
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    Blimey, are we all agreeing, and on topic? 😮

    Also, infrastructure requires money and land. In rural areas of England it’s very hard to see how any beneficial infrastructure could be added in most locations.

    You have to take a bit of the road away to provide space for cyclists. thats what they did in the Netherlands. either literally by separating a piece of road with lines or kerbs – or metaphorically with 20 mph limits where the cyc list has priority

    Cycle campaigning in the UK has traditionally settled for token concessions like those awful dotted optional lanes because that’s all we thought we could get.

    There’s also a dearth of expertise and knowledge at the planning level, with odd, wonky solutions being implemented when they should be aiming for best practice or nothing.

    Looking at my Twitter feed there now seems to be a lot more confidence, more ability to campaign effectively (the “die in” at Addison Lee will have garnered a lot more coverage than a petition with 300 signatures) and more understanding of why countries with high cycling levels are they way they are (i.e. not just going ”But there’s no hills in Holland”)

    alex222
    Member

    In rural areas of England it’s very hard to see how any beneficial infrastructure could be added in most locations

    Well the National Cycle Network is a bit of a mixed bag, but it stretches over 13,000 miles. If a charity and a few apathetic local authorities can create something as extensive, imagine what a mandatory allocation of part of the Treasury’s infrastructure budget could do.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    You have to take a bit of the road away to provide space for cyclists.

    Agreed – but very hard to implement in many areas.

    e.g. round my way the rural bits have plenty of narrow NSL roads where there just isn’t sufficient tarmac to pinch any space for a cycle lane.

    Whereas in the city the main problem tends to be parked cars taking up road space and complicated junctions with no easy solution for bikes.

    Any solution which enables road users to share existing space in safety is universally applicable to all locations.

    I have to disagree there, in some places shared space is very effective, in others it appears that cyclists and pedestrians get drafted in as human traffic calming measures. Even if these spaces are safer, it can be hard for people to perceive them as such.

    A cycle path doesn’t have to be a strip up the side of a road.

    Car parking on the street is not a god-given right. In some places it’s quite an outrageous use of free public space. If you plonked a caravan or a speedboat on the road outside your house, you’d rightly be shoed.

    GrahamS – Member

    You have to take a bit of the road away to provide space for cyclists.

    Agreed – but very hard to implement in many areas.

    e.g. round my way the rural bits have plenty of narrow NSL roads where there just isn’t sufficient tarmac to pinch any space for a cycle lane.

    Then the road ends up as a single track road with passing places. and a 30 mph limit and yo take the bikes along that one leaving an alternative route bike free for cars to whizz along

    Whereas in the city the main problem tends to be parked cars taking up road space and complicated junctions with no easy solution for bikes.

    which is again where you need the rebalance – you remove the parked cars from the dangerous places, you take some road from cars and give it to bikes, you re engineer the junctions to make them safer for bikes

    it can all be done with teh politicalwill.

    An example of the first – cars drive along it as if its single track road using the cycle lanes to pass another car coming the other way – but obviously the cycles have priority in the cycle lanes
    http://g.co/maps/hyevs

    An example of the second – complex junction with trams main roads and bikes – along most of the road leading to the junction there is a cycle lane in the raodway – at the the junction the cyclists are taken onto a separate lane separated by kerbs and controlled separately from the cars.
    http://g.co/maps/6my6e

    Premier Icon Bez
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    You have to take a bit of the road away to provide space for cyclists.

    That’s not viable IMO. Very few roads have enough space for two vehicular lanes plus two cycle lanes. You end up either losing segregation in at least one direction or you end up (as is normally the case) with all the lanes being a bit too narrow for each of their users. The sad thing is that for the most part the road has to deal with only one vehicle in each direction at a time – an overtake is an exception rather than the rule – and in this context again it makes more sense not to segregate.

    I have to disagree there, in some places shared space is very effective, in others it appears that cyclists and pedestrians get drafted in as human traffic calming measures.

    Possibly, but again – as I interpret it – that’s a fairly infrastructure-oriented response.

    In some places shared space doesn’t work; the main example IMO being dual carriageways. But my point is that if a shift in attitudes and consideration can be achieved then this benefits everyone. This is quite different from a solution based on infrastructure and segregation, which benefits people only where such measures can be applied (generally cities, primarily because of the cost/benefit ratio) and, I believe, is actually detrimental to those in areas where they are not applied.

    Well the National Cycle Network is a bit of a mixed bag, but it stretches over 13,000 miles.

    My experience is that the NCN is either just bog standard roads with some blue signs (ie nothing to give additional defence from motorists), mostly via circuitous backstreets; or it’s unmetalled surfaces with lots of gates and pedestrians.

    Either way the routes often aren’t ideally suited to making rapid progress and so are generally poorly suited to what most of us would perceive as “road riding”. Great for days out with the kids and stuff, or shorter commutes, but not for everything.

    That’s all just IME, of course.

    Bez – Member

    “You have to take a bit of the road away to provide space for cyclists.”

    That’s not viable IMO. Very few roads have enough space for two vehicular lanes plus two cycle lanes. You end up either losing segregation in at least one direction or you end up (as is normally the case) with all the lanes being a bit too narrow for each of their users. The sad thing is that for the most part the road has to deal with only one vehicle in each direction at a time – an overtake is an exception rather than the rule – and in this context again it makes more sense not to segregate.

    thats the point – you a have to take away a bit of road see my google map link above.

    If you are serious about improving cycle safety you have to take away some of the road from cars and give it to bikes.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Then the road ends up as a single track road with passing places. and a 30 mph limit and yo take the bikes along that one leaving an alternative route bike free for cars to whizz along

    That’s the thing though TJ. In more rural areas there often isn’t a huge choice of roads, so there isn’t an alternative route and turning the main route into a singletrack 30mph would absolutely cripple local transport.

    The only real option there is to build more roads, or perhaps paths specifically for bikes – which as you say there isn’t the political will to do, especially when the country is short of money (though some would argue it would be a good way to create some jobs!)

    My experience is that the NCN is either just bog standard roads with some blue signs (ie nothing to give additional defence from motorists), mostly via circuitous backstreets; or it’s unmetalled surfaces with lots of gates and pedestrians.

    My commuting route that I described earlier is an NCN one (NCN72 mainly) and it is great. Yes there are five gates and a couple of road crossings, but think how many time you stop on a road for traffic lights, junctions, etc. Yes there are peds, but they are generally friendly and far less likely to kill me than cars.

    ^ Laugh if you like, but I’ve seen people on here using similar reasoning to claim that cycling in the Netherlands is more dangerous than cycling in the UK.

    That’s the thing though TJ. In more rural areas there often isn’t a huge choice of roads, so there isn’t an alternative route and turning the main route into a singletrack 30mph would absolutely cripple local transport.

    No it would not – it would reduce average speeds for cars a bit but increase cycling! Bikes are transport!

    Its just one solution – once again I find it weird that on a cyclist forum all these excuse are made as to why cyclist cannot get a fair share of the roads and that any solution that might inconvenience a car driver in the slightest is totally impossible.

    if you want to make cycling safer and more popular yo have to rebalance the road usage away from the car. this will mean cars are sometimes inconvenience slightly

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    Can we just not bother with analogies? They don’t work here.

    Is that because in the analogies the person causing the death would be charged with manslaughter and the inquest would return a verdict of unlawful killing? There isn’t a huge inherent difference with them apart from that (what the weapon is usually used for is pretty much irrelevant IMHO – we’ve surely established that the important point is whether the person involved intended any harm – this coroner’s verdict makes it clear that the inherent risk involved in somebody’s actions is also irrelevant to guilt).

    Anyway – I have a quick solution. It might not solve all the problems, but it would have saved at least one life (that or gave the police something to charge the person who killed them with which even they couldn’t ignore). Make it illegal to overtake cyclists at width restrictions like this, along with appropriate signage (like the normal “no overtaking” sign, but with a bicycle on the left). Far, far more useful than some strips of yellow paint to stop cars parking – it’s indicative of the inability of all those involved in this case to determine the real causes for the death that they’re suggesting preventing the cars parking is a solution rather than this.

    Actually, looking at the road there, can anybody explain to me what the parked cars have to do with anything, and how preventing them parking there is likely to make any difference to cases such as this? He wasn’t overtaking parked cars when he was hit, so ISTM they’re pretty much irrelevant.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
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    if you want to make cycling safer and more popular yo have to rebalance the road usage away from the car. this will mean cars are sometimes inconvenience slightly

    At the moment though, the attitude is such that bikes are a mere inconvenience and in a lot of areas there simply aren’t the numbers of cyclists to justify it (in the eyes of town planners, Government etc – not me, I’m a fan of the build-it-and-they-will-come idea).

    Example – there’s a road I ride on daily that has a newish cycle lane down the side which in theory has narrowed what was previously 2 narrow car lanes down to one wide car lane and a decent width bike lane. However, because it’s little more that a line of paint, cars ignore it anyway and the ones that do take heed of it are seen as causing congestion because they’re now taking up the space of two cars. If that lane were full of bikes, it’d be accepted. But it isn’t so cars ignore it.

    We’re now in a chicken / egg situation. Cars will only deal with cyclists as other human beings when there are too many of them to ignore – witness London in summertime. However reaching that critical mass is difficult because of the perception of danger. Once more people start cycling, it’s seen as more normal and people change their attitude accordingly. It’s getting it to that state of normality and articles in the press going on about “lycra-clad” lefty hippy weirdy beardy treehuggers rather than normal people going about normal daily life just exacerbates the problem. 🙁

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
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    Make it illegal to overtake cyclists at width restrictions like this, along with appropriate signage (like the normal “no overtaking” sign, but with a bicycle on the left)

    You mean like it’s illegal to drive while on the phone, drive while DQ’d or unfit through alcohol/drugs, speed, jump red lights etc etc?
    Enforced in the same way that the above offences are? ie they’re not.

    It might make a few people think a little bit more. Most simply won’t care.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    it would reduce average speeds for cars a bit but increase cycling! Bikes are transport!

    It would half the average speed of cars for a pretty marginal increase in cycling.

    once again I find it weird that on a cyclist forum all these excuse are made as to why cyclist cannot get a fair share of the roads

    I’m not an apologist, but I do think you have to be realistic with your demands.
    What you describe goes well beyond a “fair share” in my opinion.

    if you want to make cycling safer and more popular yo have to rebalance the road usage away from the car. this will mean cars are sometimes inconvenience slightly

    I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I think we just disagree on our definition of “slightly”. 😀

    Graham S – the narrow “car each way” into single track with cycle lanes ( and did yo look a the picture of it I posted a link to?) is an extreme case. People are saying you cannot have a cycle lanes for whatever reason – I am merely showing you can. It would not halve average speeds – it would only make a small difference.

    Unless you are prepared to take away a bit of road from car drivers you will never get any improvements.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Make it illegal to overtake cyclists at width restrictions like this

    His manoeuvre apparently (from what we can suppose from the article and Street View) violated several Highway Code rules, but that appears to have been completely ignored.

    I’d like to think if it actually broke a specific law then they might have taken it more seriously, but somehow I’m not convinced. 🙁

    Premier Icon cynic-al
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    aracer we agree on the important points…I CBA arguing the legal technicalities.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    TJ: okay lets apply this to a road we both (hopefully) know: the A68.

    Major connecting road between Edinburgh and Northumberland. The majority of which is NSL single-carriageway with one lane in each direction.

    Example: http://g.co/maps/hh9ee

    It’d be a lovely cycle this road – this bit is just at Catcleugh Reservoir on the edge of Northumberland National Park.

    But right now I wouldn’t touch it. I drove this road a lot and I’ve seen a fair few crashes and some terrible driving on it.

    If you singletracked it, reduced it to a 30mph and added dual cycle lanes, as per your link, then you’d effectively cripple that road for the vast majority of its users. Halving the speed on it and adding considerable danger to all the blind bends and summits on it.

    That doesn’t seem justified for the extra dozen or so cyclists that such measures might possibly encourage.

    And most likely you’d find that your measures were widely ignored and unenforceable anyway.

    I think we are at cross purposes. The single track with cycle lanes is for road where there is no space to put a cycle way alongside the road. someone claimed their local roads had no room for cycle ways. My point is there is always a way to do so. there are many ways of providing a cycleway

    That road does not need the single track and cycle lane each way. See the bit on the left? Plenty room to put a cycleway in there that is two way for bikes. Like the A9 cycleway

    Premier Icon GrahamS
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    See the bit on the left? Plenty room to put a cycleway in there that is two way for bikes.

    Okay, but that’s pretty much what I said earlier: “the only real option there is to build more roads, or perhaps paths specifically for bikes”.

    But the expense of that would be enormous and difficult to justify in such remote areas.

    Also, look half a mile further down that road and you’ll see the “bit on the left” is a drainage ditch: http://g.co/maps/9gq84 , or a crash barrier and dry stone wall: http://g.co/maps/j8n3s

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