Cycle Safety: separation or segregation?

Three cycle safety stories caught my eye this last week and they did not make for comfortable reading. It seems that the route to more popular and safe cycling may be more long and winding than we thought.

 

Firstly, in The Herald came the story that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in Scotland is now running at its highest level for over five years: Provisional stats for 1012 suggest that cyclists make up 1 in every 14 seriously hurt or killed on our roads. Almost 900 cyclists were involved in serious incidents across the year.

 

English: Beware pedestrians Cyclists be warned...

English: Beware pedestrians Cyclists be warned! I wonder why there is no safety barrier? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Secondly, it appears that we cyclists are a growing risk to another vulnerable road user group – pedestrians. According to a piece in, “The Conversation” British government data over a period of 9 years to 2012 show cyclists killed 23 pedestrians and seriously injured a further 585.

 

I find this latter figure extraordinary, but both cycle and pedestrian casualties point to the same problem. In Britain, in contrast to, say The Netherlands, pedestrians, cyclists, cars and heavy vehicles have to use the same congested and contested routes.  Too often this contest and congestion  pits them against each other.

 

However, a third story suggests separation itself may be a mixed blessing. An evaluation of the proposed London SkyCycle Route begs the question: will separate but not equal  prove again to be a mask for apartheid, segregation and institutional disadvantage for cyclists?  Is the point to put us out of harm’s way, or out of the car drivers’ way?

 

I suggest that against the car, we cyclists and pedestrians ought to make common cause.

 

 

 

 

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4000 miles takes more than inspiration…

We were away mid-week visiting Edinburgh, combining work with pleasure. It’s a great city at any time of year. We came back to find this letter waiting for us: it put a big smile on my face:

An inspirational journey

An inspirational journey

Michelle is a young American I got to hear of via WordPress. As a supporter of the Bike and Build Charity she will be riding across the United States to help create social housing in the states she passes through. I had not heard of Bike and Build and I think it is just the greatest of causes – truly inspiring on many levels.  You can visit Michelle’s blog and read more of her story in her own words.  I am sure you will leave impressed – as did I. You might even consider leaving a wee donation to help her in her fund-raising.  We oldies need to cherish the enthusiasms and idealism of the young: sooner or later the world is going to need them.

A (new) cycling song to make you smile…

Following my last post this came my way. I am tempted to say (i) from the sublime to the …; and (ii) I really do have to get out more…  It is a little catchy, however, and sounds like a lot of fun.

 

The bicycle as never heard before… Bespoken by Johnny Random

I warn you – let this into your head and you may never get it out!  My thanks to Oregon Expat for putting me onto this via his excellent WordPress blog. It brightened up an otherwise wet and windy day here in Northern Scotland.

Pick up your own copy from iTunes.  Enjoy?

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Bicycle navigation – reinvented…

It was wild, wet and windy (again) today, so I surfed a little instead of riding – don’t be too hard on me, I did get out for a jog. One link after another led me to GizMag and their top ten cycling innovations of 2013. Top of the list is the intriguing Hammerhead for Bike Navigation.  I think it is well worth a look.

Hammerhead - navigation re-invented

Hammerhead – navigation re-invented

The new startup team behind Hammerhead say they are inspired by simplicity – get the essential right then junk the rest is their philosophy: in this they (and their advertising video) reminded my strongly of Apple and that cannot be bad.  Their breakthrough to simplicity ideas include:

  • team the Hammerhead to a smart phone, using all its complicated and expensive electronics;
  • replace spoken or turn instructions with peripheral vision colours as direction indicators
  • a really smart, minimal design and look
  • incorporate a built-in headlight.

I like this idea a lot for several reasons:

  • it’s great to see someone other than Garmin looking at navigation
  • I want to make better use of my iPhone
  • it keeps the iPhone safe and dry without needing a new case
  • it’s refreshing to see a new take on an old problem
  • conventional satnav screens are a nightmare for those of up who need reading glasses
  • it looks like great value for money.

I see Schwinn have an alternative out (see below), so I will wait until some user reviews appear, but I hope I won’t have to wait too long.  This looks like a great device full of promise.

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New cycling book does battle for the climate…

Cycling books seem to come thicker and faster with each passing year. I imagine e-publishing has made self-publishing so much simpler: but e-books are a mixed bag in my experience. So, I was very pleased to come across, “The Bicycle Diaries: my 21000 mile ride for the climate by David Kroodsma – it sounds very promising.

David is an environmental activist, climate scientist, journalist and cycle enthusiast. His book tells the tale of a bike ride he made from California to the southern-most tip of South America.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not only does the book promise to detail his route, adventures, challenges and engagement with the people he meets (David speaks Spanish and I am sure this added much to the richness of these meetings), but also he uses the cycling adventure to explore and illustrate people’s views and concerns about climate travel and its effects.  This added element promises to lift the book well above most ordinary travel diaries.

David has a website at rideforclimate.com and more importantly, a Kickstarter Page (with an excellent video trailer for his book) where you can pre-order a copy while helping to fund the project.

The book is billed to appear in February 2014.

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Inspirational Mountain Biking Video

We have thought about taking up trail or mountain biking a few times, especially over the winter months, but somehow it has never happened. One big dampener was coming across a mountain biker with a horribly dislocated knee on a forest walk one day. It was many years ago now, but the image of that knee still haunts me. Perhaps it’s time to get over this, however.

If ever I do, this video from Filme von Draussen will surely prove to have been one catalyst: it’s a true inspiration and beautifully shot and edited.  Well worth a watch and great to see people at their best, even if you are not one for the mountains.  Maybe I’ll make up a set of cycling resolutions for the coming year – now there’s a thought!