The Pied Pedaller and a giant ball of plasma. Plus a mention of fashion designers.

Sunrise over Basingstoke (resized)

I am not dangerising this ball of plasma over Basingstoke by mentioning it. With proper design, its inherent danger can be minimised by those that want to use it or put things near it.

The BBC report HERE that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said today, “I am a passionate cyclist, but I am not some kind of Pied Pedaller. People go by bike because they love to go by bike.”

Of course that peaked my interest! He said Pedaller! 🙂

He didn’t expand on why people ‘love to go by bike’ – so I will: it saves money, it is often quicker, and you get some regular exercise (thanks for helping the NHS budget there). Plus, it you combine it with a train journey, you get some decent time to tweet, catch up on Facebook or even read a book! (Sometimes I just stare out the window at the beautiful scenery…daydreaming – a lost art!).

I’m glad that the mayor backed away from his draft speech in which he appeared to blame campaigners as “dangerising” cycling when what they have done is raise the profile of how governments across the UK have so far failed to make roads not only safer but feel safer.

This is an old topic, but relevant… Vole O’Speed said in 2011 that Cycling is dangerous. He expanded upon that by saying that “cycling on UK roads is dangerous. So dangerous that the vast majority of people will never do it under current conditions.”

The same sentiment was expressed more recently by As Easy As Riding a Bike: “[Cycling] is unnecessarily hazardous, and we know the reasons why, and have done for some time – I tried to put those reasons across in the [TV] interviews. I tried to explain, in particular, how we have junctions with large motor vehicles turning left, and people on bikes moving ahead, and the reasons why collisions occur.”

The Times newspaper came in for the same “dangerising” criticism back in 2012, during the Get Britain Cycling inquiry, as Vole O’Speed reports in Inverted snobbery, “dangerising”, and change at the CTC. Remember, The Times put their money where their mouth was and partly funded that Get Britain Cycling inquiry. The Department of Transport rejected in August 2013 all but one of its recommendations (a review of sentencing is promised for 2014). The government must make a U-turn on that. Urgently.

The #TfLDieIn event included people who had been hit by buses while they were walking. There has been no mention in the media or by politicians of “dangerising” walking. The AA and others promote drink driving awareness, and to wear seatbelts. Again, no one is accusing them of “dangerising” driving. Neither are fashion designers being accused of “dangerising” women walking about at night.

In all cases, the danger is real; The fix is not for the victim to make though; or for campaigners to shy away from identifying. It is for the governments to improve the infrastructure, and for the police to enforce the laws surrounding that infrastructure. Neither should resort to victim blaming – that went out in the 1970s.

Today, a couple of people that I regularly meet on the train platform, as we all head home from work with our bicycles, asked how that event in London went.

Clearly, even with all the media attention, some people who regularly cycle aren’t ‘switched on’ to campaigns – although they do know something is going on due to the TV and newspaper coverage (and these two got a leaflet and placard from me!). I don’t blame them. They just want to travel to and from work safely. They happen to choose a bicycle to do part of that journey. They rightly expect the government to make the network safe for them – as governments have generally done for people who still choose to drive – but are realistic enough to know they must, in the current environment, ‘keep their wits about them’.

Imagine how many more would choose to cycle – and free up space on the roads – if the network made people *feel* safer when they chose to ride a bicycle. The time has come to insist governments across the UK create space for cycling.

Don’t forget to write to your MP about adopting the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry recommendations.

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