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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