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In the spirit of co-operation??

January 4, 2012

Boston, England –  It has always fascinated me as to why…

… There is not more co-operation between cycle and motorcycle lobby organisations. Is it that they really do believe that they are disparate groups or is it that fostering the entirely dissimilar position is handy when it comes to recruiting members and campaigning.

Within hours of Transport for London (TfL) announcing that motorcyclists and scooterists would have permanent access to bus lanes on the TfL Road network the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) hit back. From LCC Chief Executive Ashok Sinha, “Cyclists and motorcyclists are both especially vulnerable to bad road policies; TfL’s action does nothing to reduce danger for either group.” From LCC’s road danger expert Charlie Lloyd , “The overwhelming conclusion from the latest bus lane trial is, yet again, that there are no safety benefits. The results of this trial should act as a warning to other authorities not to risk allowing motorcycles in bus lanes”.

Not much spirit of co-operation there then.

Meanwhile out in the real world a poll carried out by TfL,  as part of the first bus lane trial, revealed that the majority of the 600 cyclists asked had no issues with motorcyclists or scooterists using bus lanes. Strangely this poll received little publicity at the time. When the grass-roots opinion does not support the lobby and there’s a whiff of co-operative spirit simple ignore it. Political agenda’s rule!

Thinking about it there are other examples where grass-root views didn’t match the lobby.

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the UK Department for Transport (DfT), no doubt hidden in a dusty corner, is an unpublished research report that examines the safety issues relating to motorcycle and scooter riders using advanced stop lines. Advanced stop lines (ASL’s)? Those areas in front of the vehicle stop line at traffic signals designated for use by cyclists and often also used by naughty bikers and scooterists.  Someone had the bright idea that it would be a good idea if use of the ASL’s in London by scooter and motorcycle riders was made official. So despite a “over our dead bodies” thing from the cycle lobby it was post-haste to the London Borough of Newham for a trial and a research project. Well hit me with a damp lettuce if  trial didn’t produce a result that indicated that there was a safety benefit for motorcyclists and scooterists and no safety disbenefit for cyclists if joint use of ASL’s was allowed. Even better in a poll more than 50% of cyclists did not have an issue with joint use.

You may at this point be thinking along the lines of “so why aren’t  riders using ASL’s in London”, officially that is. Well a couple of those “road danger experts” from the cycle lobby stepped forward and whispered sweet nothings in a civil servants ear and the whole thing got shelved pending further research. BTW that was ten years ago.

Of course these are the same “road danger experts” who continue to fight tooth and nail against the compulsory use of cycle helmets.  Oh and please no b*****ks about the majority of cyclists wearing helmets, they don’t.

But then it could be that an expert is the one who knows more and more about less and less.

Perhaps then time for grass-roots co-operation.

Enjoy you winter riding.

© Back Roads Rider 2012

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:07 am

    It wasn’t 10 years ago, see here…
    Perhaps the issue with cyclists is that they don’t like to see people enjoying themselves – you ever seen a happy cyclist?

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      January 5, 2012 5:09 pm

      Hope not churlish but it was 2002-03 actually, I spent many happy hours in Newham.

      See here…

      Anyway nice too know that TRL are still making a few quid out of this one!

      After today’s announcement of compulsory hi-viz for motorcyclists in France from January 2013 I bet the boys and girl in Bracknell are on the phone to Marsham Street “suggesting” a preliminary desk top study re the safety benefits of introducing it here.

      • January 8, 2012 8:39 pm

        As I understand it, they’re going for 150cm^2 of *reflective* material, so even my Bilious Orange Dayglo Jacket (BODJ hereafter) isn’t good enough and I’ll have to slap a Sam Browne shiny-belt over the top.

        And in a fit of purest French insanity, they’re excusing light motorcycles and peds from wearing it – exactly the people who might benefit from it at urban junctions. Bless ’em.

        Anyway, on topic, as both a motor- and pedal-cyclist, I welcome this belated attack of common sense by TfL. Next up, training/licensing, mandatory helmets, registration and insurance for pushbikes, then we’ll be on a properly equal footing.

  2. Scouse permalink
    January 5, 2012 11:03 am

    I think this is a regional issue… here in our bit of the East Midlands we have a very good relationship with the local cycling groups, even down to them getting the council to invite us to sustainable transport meetings that have until recently been purely push bike biased… the local Sustrans lobbyist is pro-bike as well. He see’s scooters and mopeds as essential for social integration and for youngsters and those on low income to get into where the work is from outlying villages. Even he agrees that cycling is effective for short city hops but not when the only routes for many into the city are along major A roads.

    Both sides are very clear in their reaction towards each other; we have a mutual interest in the same issues affecting our general safety on the roads.

    So is it the membership or is it the leadership causing the problems in that there London ?

  3. Dave permalink
    January 6, 2012 9:40 am

    Not churlish, but it is a new report dated April 2011 not the Newham study of 03.

    Sounds like Scouse has a good thing going. Perhaps we need to use this as a case study for other areas. Could you ask your sustrans lobbyist to speak to the rest of them? Most ‘sustainable’ transport people wont hear of anything with an engine being given the time of day.

  4. Teapot permalink
    January 7, 2012 5:02 pm

    Unlike the East Midlands, it seems that Cambridge cycling lobbyists follow the LCC line. They would even rather those troublesome pedestrians kept out of their way too!

    On ASLs. Has anyone ever been prosecuted (or cautioned) for using them? Most problems come when someone has ideas of enforcement.

    • Dave permalink
      January 10, 2012 8:41 am

      It’s pretty unlikely, given the scarcity of roads policing and the pressure on those that do exist minor infringements like ASL use are way down the list of priorities. I guess if you pulled up in to an ASL, infront of a cop car, with a loud exhaust, a tiny plate, no tax and a bag of weed bungeed to the back they might have a word with you.

      Around my way there’s some ASL’s in lane one of a dual carriageway but not lane two which sort of makes a mockery of the whole idea. Were ASL’s like cycle lanes in that if you put enough in, as a local authority, you got money from the govt? That would explain some of them.

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