Thursday, 6 September 2012

Unbelievable editorial in The Richmond Magazine: 'The only good cyclist is a dead one'. Councils are still actively creating road user conflict, which legitimises disgusting views like this.

My video of Blackfriars Bridge late rush hour last night. More people on bikes than in cars. Guess who the road is designed for? The people in cars, obviously.

Earlier today, Richmond Cycling Campaign published a copy of the latest issue of The Richmond Magazine on its website.

Richmond Cycling Campaign has has a hard enough time battling a council that seems utterly disinterested in anything other than more and more cars on its streets. The council is proposing removing one of the very few half-way decent bits of cycling infrastructure in Twickenham

The Richmond Magazine is one of those glossy free magazines filled with estate agent adverts that normally witters inconsequential nothingness about the local area. But not this time.

This time, its editor Richard Nye saw fit to write about the Olympics, in particular about cycling at the Olympics. And he said this:

"After years of a sullen rage against the cycling fraternity - as a daily driver on busy roads, I tend towards the temperate view that the only good cyclist is a dead one - I suddenly found myself experiencing strange feelings of attachment towards the pedal stars of Team GB"

The cycling comments are pretty dreadful. His comments about 'care in the community' aren't much better, to be frank.

Look at the way the road narrows just where the
lorry passes the cyclists. Road user conflict designed
by the council?
The reality is that a lot of people think thoughts that aren't too different to the ones written in The Richmond Magazine. I wrote a few months ago about the young driver at Vauxhall gyratory: "I HATE cyclists the way they swarm my car like the plague, they have no awareness of sharing the road", she said.

The thing is, I can completely understand why some drivers (especially those that have never ridden a bike as an adult) 'hate' cyclists.

Pictured left, a lorry driving along Cycle Super Highway 7. Look carefully. The lorry is passing through a 'pinch point. There's a traffic island in the middle of the road. And on the left of the lorry, there's an advertising bollard on a bit of pavement that sticks out and takes all of the left handside of the carriageway. In other words, all these cyclists and the lorry are forced to share a bit of road that is the same width as the lorry. The reality is a) this must be unbelievably stressful for the lorry driver having to sum up all the bikes and the narrow road b) it's unbelievably stressful but with added risk for people on bikes. Often, when I cycle here, I have to either force my way through the gap, confidentally 'taking the lane' and hoping the lorry will slow down or I wimp out and give way to the lorry which is behind me but which is clearly not going to slow down.

My point is this: This conflict between cyclists and motorists is actively designed into the street layout.

The sheer ignorance of the need to separate the flow of cyclists and large motor vehicles on our roads is what results in ridiculously dangerous street layouts like the one pictured above.

And it's exactly this sort of ridiculous street layout that causes conflict. As a cyclist, I hate cycling through this gap and 'hate' the fact that most motorists don't give me space to cycle through it safely. When I drive here, I 'hate' trying to second guess how the cyclists are going to respond to the street layout.

It's a lose-lose situation. And I think it explains to some extent why the editor of The Richmond Magazine feels it is legitimate to 'hate' cyclists in the way he does.

A lot of people tell me that 'if only cyclists didn't run red lights' that they might deserve proper cycling infrastructure. Or they seek to victimise me as a 'cyclist' in some form or fashion. The fact is that, in most of the UK, we compete for space and for our lives far too often on infrastructure designed for motor vehicles, with road laws designed for motor vehicles.

I'd like to see the infrastructure and the rules start to change. And that, in time, will cause people to see idiotic views like those of editor of The Richmond Magazine, as socially inacceptable. I'd also like to see that same editor out on a bicycle, in Richmond. And see how he likes feeling like a vulnerable road user, rather than a superior, car-wrapped road user.

If you want to contact the publisher directly, use this link for relevant contact details.