In the capital this week, whilst the Met advised commuting bike riders to wear extra bright clothing in case ‘drivers weren’t wearing their glasses‘, a prominent London cyclist carried out a number of erratic moves during an LBC radio interview, which threaten to put his professional life at serious risk of harm. Bare-headed, dressed in a non-reflective dark suit and clearly wearing headphones throughout, he remained oblivious to the heavyweight issues thundering around him whilst he made his risky manoeuvres. He didn’t stop even though there was a red light clearly shining in the recording studio at all times.
I know there isn’t a quick fix to the problem of the many dangers which London’s cyclists face everytime they take to the road.
I know it’s more complex than just a rush-hour HGV ban, or segregated lanes on the cycle super highways.
I know that self-interest and self-preservation are enormously important aspects of urban road-use and that vulnerable road-users need to play their part in reducing the risks presented to themselves.
I also know that repeatedly reducing the debate to one about what the potential victims are wearing is about as big a blunder that the man in charge of realising the potential solutions could make. Frankly, I’m appalled.
I am in Moscow this week and I’m trying to remember the last occasion I was in such a cycling un-friendly city. It’s got me stumped. I have covered a fair few global miles in my time and cannot readily think of a single place – certainly not another capital city – where I would be less inclined to get my bike out and tootle off to see some sights or get in some miles. I spent 4 hours today travelling around the city by car and only saw one solitary rider. And even he was on the pavement. I visited a shopping centre in the outskirts and found a priceless piece of cycling unhelpfulness. Outside the main entrance was a sign with a large ‘P’ and a pictogram of a bike. Nothing to actually lock a bike to. Just the sign.
Moscow’s traffic problems are legendary and have become the main feature of any visit to the city. The transfer from the main airport can easily take up to 3 hours to cover the 26miles by car. It’s currently 3.15pm on a Thursday afternoon and over half the total distance of Moscow’s three inner ring roads (there are 6 in total and two more are planned) are showing solid red on the Google maps traffic indicator. This is before ‘rush hour’ actually starts. Entire days have been added to my trip to allow for the traffic between three points less than 50km apart. People live in constant fear of simply being caught up in the volume of cars on the roads. And then there are the roads themselves…