Tuesday, 12 November 2013

After my last hopeful post, the Evening snooze in Edinburgh have changed their tune:

The Police Scotland team in Edinburgh were hot on their social media and pointed out to me that the actual campaign was more balanced.
But let's go back to the starting point of a policy process - problem definition - as I did with the mostpointlesspublicinformationcampaigneverthattheScottishGovernmentshouldbeashamedof. So, what is the problem? Police Scotland say what it is in their press release, it's "road safety" - too many people are being killed and injured on Edinburgh's roads. So, let's divvy up the danger to vulnerable road users between drivers and cyclists. Here is a list of things I see drivers doing every time I get on my bike: 
  • Going through red lights - both "amber gambler" and just going through a light, while it's been at red sometime. Quite often this is when the driver has been sat at the light and then just decides they can't be bothered waiting. Or drivers crossing into the advanced stop zone while the light is at red. According to the highway code, they have passed a stop line while the traffic light was at red - aka they've gone through a red light.
  • Illegal parking - including double-parking, parking on double-yellows, on no-loading areas, on greenways and in loading bays on greenways (I see the same cars parked every evening in the loading bays on greenways. They are not loading).
  • Dangerous overtaking - including overtaking on blind corners and the brow of a hill, overtaking and giving insufficient room to other traffic, overtaking when there is quite obviously a vehicle coming in the other direction (this is a head-on collision I'm waiting to happen).
  • Not signalling, or using mirrors. Ever. 
  • Using mobile phones while driving - and these days, to do your shopping with and chat on Facebook using your smartphone, not for phone conversations.
  • Driving down the wrong side of the road at oncoming traffic (oddly common, that one).
  • Speeding. All the time. And if not speeding, not adjusting speed to the road conditions. There's a reason every time it rains the city comes to a standstill, particularly the bypass - people are driving too fast to stop safely.
  • Every line of traffic I join because I can't cycle past to get to the ASL zone contains a car with brake lights not working.
  • Over behaviour that isn't that dangerous but is contrary to the highway code including: revving your engine and honking your horn in anger or frustration; swearing at other road users.
Here's what I see cyclists doing:
  • Rarely they will go through a red light at a pedestrian crossing, or a crossroads which is at the all-pedestrian phase. I see this about once a month, if that.
  • About once a week I will see a cyclist going down the pavement, usually this is a teenager who doesn't (but should) know better, or someone from a country that has decent cycling infrastructure and is quite rightly scared shitless by cycling on Edinburgh's roads. In the latter case, they are usually going very slowly and carefully.
  • I've had a couple of cyclists emerge out of the dark since the days have shortened and given me a surprise. But then, as I'd not used my lights all summer, I did a couple of rides with insufficient lighting as my batteries had gone flat. You can get caught out quite easily at this time of year unintentionally. And if you've picked up your bike for £30 as cheap transport, then another £15 for decent lights might be the difference between eating and not.
I've had the misfortune to hit pedestrians twice, when they just stepped out in front of me. As a result I've half a tooth missing, another tooth so sensitive it acts as a thermometer and some scarring on my right hand. Of the two pedestrians, one had a slight bruise on their thigh. If there is a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian, the former invariably suffers far worse injuries.

So, let's get this straight. Drivers kill people with their motorised vehicles. That's your road safety problem there so stop treating bad driving and bad cycling as equal problems in policy. 

1 comment:

  1. I've been on both sides of this, as driver and cycling commuter (not in a major city - far too scared to try that).

    Some motorists do stupid and/or illegal things. They should not do these things.
    Some cyclists do stupid and/or illegal things. They should not do these things either.
    I have no good data as to which is more prevalent, and I suspect that this is not a good place to rely on anecdotes.

    However, to pick up on one thing you said,
    "if you've picked up your bike for £30 as cheap transport, then another £15 for decent lights might be the difference between eating and not"

    You wouldn't say the same about a car with dangerous faults, surely? Same applies. As a driver who is cautious and courteous to cyclists, there is one bit of stupid behaviour that I see more often than any other, and that is bikes without lights. There's sod all I can do to avoid hitting an invisible cyclist, and that scares me - and I really do not understand why it does not scare cyclists as well.

    I don't know what the most cost-effective way of reducing cycling injuries is, and I don't know what the politics around this are, but I suspect that as well as educating drivers, trying to get people not to cycle around in the middle of the night on black bikes in black clothing without any lights is probably quite important...