Blackburn, England – Its official cycling in the United Kingdom is fundamentally safe…
Well that’s according to Dr Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge and Joint Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling, as he opened last weeks parliamentary debate on cycling.
Building on The Times newspaper “Cities Fit For Cyclists” campaign this much hyped event was in fact a debate by backbench MP’s held in Westminster Hall. Debate implies two sides discussing an issue with an intention of one side prevailing over the other. However in this debate we were presented with the vision of 77 MP’s taking turns to eulogise on how wonderful cycling is, it was all plus and no minus.
Indeed the debate was best summed up by none other than Roger “the bat” Geffen, Campaigns & Policy Director of the Cycle Tour Club, who said: “Following the hugely positive show of cross-party parliamentary support, the Government now has a clear mandate to get on with promoting ‘more as well as safer cycling’. It should seize the moment and draw up a co-ordinated action plan to create safe conditions for cycling, and to encourage more people to enjoy its benefits for our health, our quality of life and our wallets.”
But there’s something fundamentally wrong here, isn’t there? In a society that chooses to firmly regulated all other transport modes cycling is completely unregulated.
The only mandatory requirement for the machine itself is that it be fitted with an effect brake on each wheel. No lights, no bell, no reflectors are required at point of sale, there is no form of registration or vehicle excise duty required. The rider too has an easy time, there is no minimum age requirement, no minimum eyesight requirement, no requirement relating to blood alcohol levels, no mandatory insurance or training requirement, no requirement to wear a safety helmet or other personal protective equipment.
By all means lets promote cycling it is cheap, healthy, efficient, sustainable, fun and like motorcycling and scootering a sheer joy. But let’s get the fundamentals right first before, as suggested by Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Maria Eagle , we spend a £100 million a year on it.
Oh yes and like motorcycling not every cycling crash is someone else’s fault.
Ride safe, have fun.
© Back Roads Rider 2012