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The Great Cycling Experiment!

December 6, 2009

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Kings Lynn, England – It appears that Transport for London (TfL) is up to its usual little tricks over giving motorcyclists and scooter rides access to London’s Red Route bus lanes.

Allegations are circulating that prior to the publication of the Interim Report, which reviews casualty figures for the first four months of the 18-month London motorcycle bus lane trial, TfL allowed campaigning groups the Cycle Tour Club and Living Streets to evaluate and comment upon it. It is apparent that the same courtesy was not extended to organisations representing motorcycle and scooter users from whom the report was withheld until a copy was leaked to one of the major UK motorcycle publications. TfL subsequently published the report on its website.

The report found that there were only three collisions between motorcycles and cycles on the trial bus lane routes in the first four months of 2009 compared to five during the same period in 2008, motorcycle pedestrian collisions stayed the same at 16. The reports findings do not support predictions from the pedestrian and cycle campaigning groups that allowing motorcycles bus lane access would be detrimental to their member’s safety.

It is more than 10 years since allowing motorcycles and scooters to use bus lanes in London first came on the agenda and TfL are still pratting about with trials (we must have had more than Judge Jeffreys conducted by now!), adjustments to data, and pleasing their ‘sideman’. We have a Motorcycle Unit, well two men a desk and a phone in Victoria. Doing what?

 TfL are only too pleased to flaunt their best practice at meetings of the European Safer Urban Motorcycling project (eSUM), nice little jollies for the two men in Victoria no doubt. However, when it comes to something tangible for motorcyclists and scooterists in London, like access to bus lanes on the Transport for London Roads Network or parking facilities TfL are sadly lacking in their commitment to get something done. Boris where are you!!!

Moving on.

I have often wondered if the Governments obsession with promoting cycling was more to do with social engineering than encouraging use of a healthy and allegedly green form of transport. Are we in fact the subjects of some mad socialist attempt at a cycling field experiment thought up one of Tony Blair’s cronies in a ‘blue sky’ ‘think tank’ and pushed forward with no thought for safety.

This week saw the publication of a report on cycling casualties by researchers from the University of Surrey who have analysed English hospital admissions for the six years i.e.1999 to 2004. Said report appears to add some weight to my, admittedly slightly off the wall, theory of a great cycling experiment being perpetrated on the British public.

Key findings:

Cyclists are 20 times more likely to be killed or injured on England’s roads than motorists.

Cyclists in the UK are more than three times more likely to be killed or injured in traffic accidents than bike riders in Denmark or the Netherlands.

Only a minority of riders are injured in collisions with motor vehicles – 32 percent of adults (5,850) and just 19 percent of children (3,035), although in seven percent of cases the cause is not recorded.

On average, 71,099 car occupants seek hospital treatment in England each year for injuries sustained in road accidents, compared with 34,652 cyclists. But an average of 637 trips per person per year are made by car, compared with just 15 by bike.

Almost as many child cyclists (under-15s) are injured as adults –  an average of 16,395 a year compared with 18,257.

Interesting stuff, sheds a new light on a number of safety issues. It appears for instance that most accidents are caused by people simple falling off their cycles, which leads to the question why aren’t cycle helmets compulsory. We must however consider that the data used is over five years old, we can only hope that matters have improved, but against a background of a 17 per cent increase in cycle, perhaps they have not.

Also this week in a response to a Parliamentary question Paul Clark, Minister of State for Transport, said that 12 children under the age of 15 were killed on “pedal cycles” and a further 405 were seriously injured in reported road accidents in 2008. The total number of children killed on the roads was 124 and the total number of cycling fatalities was 115.That means that ten per cent of the children killed on Britain’s roads in 2008 died while cycling.

My point. The Government is unwilling to whole-heartedly promote motorcycling and scootering as a legitimate form of personnel transport because of safety issues. Yet has spent two to three billion pounds in the last ten years promoting cycling which is the UK’s second most dangerous form of personal transport. In numerous briefings, the UK Department of Transport has stated that motorcyclists are 40 times more likely to be killed than motorists, citing biking as Britain’s most dangerous form of transport.


BBC News UK Crash Statistics more…..

© Back Roads Rider 2009

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    December 7, 2009 11:01 am

    Lets be honest, it’s all to do with cash & status. The EU offers huge sums of money for people to use to promote cycling. If you work in local government and write a successful bid to the DfT or the HA or whomever and get lots of money for a project it’s good for your career. Would you get rid of someone who had generated thousands or even millions of pounds of revenue for your business? No. If you can say that you’ve secure £xmillions from the DfT and are a ‘cycling city’ that sounds good doesn’t it? Even if it doesn’t actually increase cycling levels or make it any safer and just wastes huge amounts of time and money, at least you’ve tried. So if you’re a cycling enthusiast and happen to work in transport policy & planning you’re laughing. All your cycling mates will think you’re a great chap too…

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