How should we help cyclists?


Cycling has become more popular as a means of travel as well as a leisure pursuit. In London especially there has been an explosion of bike use as many have taken to the roads to get to work or to visit friends.

The rapid increase has created safety and capacity problems on many local roads. Lorries  frequently in London warn cyclists that if they cannot see the lorries wing mirror the lorry driver cannot see them. Lorries also often have stickers on pointing out if a lorry is going to turn left undertaking it is a hazardous venture. Large buses also have problems detecting cyclists when they change lane or turn off the road they are on, sometimes leading to fatalities.

Sometimes the vehicle driver is careless or unobservant and causes the crash. Sometimes the cyclist breaks the rules by running across red lights or seeks to thread their way past slow moving or stationary traffic without thinking about their invisibility to the large vehicle driver. It often causes heated rows between cyclist and driver. Sometimes cycles weave onto and off pavements which can causes difficulties for pedestrians or surprises drivers who thought the cyclist would stay on the pavement.

So how should we handle the growing popularity of cycling? Should we seek to build more dedicated cycleways that can segregate cyclists from traffic?  Should part of the pavement be used for this where possible, also segregating the cyclist from  pedestrians? What further measures can drivers take to avoid blind spots that stop them seeing cyclists at risk? How can more drivers be tolerant and understanding of cyclists?


  1. Lifelogic
    July 29, 2014

    Well, if cyclists did not go through red lights, up and down pavements, undertake trucks and buses turning left, cut corners, push in front, go the wrong way down one way streets etc. it might help. By all means give them more cycle paths if there is room, as soon as they start to pay road taxes for them. Why should car users pay it all, but then only get 40% of the road for 95%?of the traffic?

    Cyclists might indicate too occasionally and not cause congestion by cycling down he middle of the road two abreast at 10 mph chatting perhaps? Lights would be good too occasionally.

    Do not forget that cyclists use food as their fuel and this is very, very Co2 inefficient compared to full cars. If you do still worry about the discredited co2, devil gas exaggeration religion that is.

    If you are concerned about road deaths then clearly one should ban cycling as it is about 20 time more deadly per mile than cars are. More dangerous than driving over the drink driving limit in fact. Doing it with a Prius behind you, carrying your bags is even more dangerous.

    1. Lifelogic
      July 29, 2014

      The other reason it is rather dangerous is that cyclists do not ever like to brake, as then they have to pedal hard again to get up their speed up. For this reason they go through red pedestrian crossings, lights and take huge risks at junctions and weaving through slow traffic, cutting corners, often doing circa 30 mph through congested and complex junctions and pavements.

      1. Mark B
        July 29, 2014


        This is very true. I hate breaking. But I would hate even more if I broke my neck. You just have to pace yourself when coming to the lights or, as I learned to do, cycle over the magnetic strips to trick lights to change.


    2. Lifelogic
      July 29, 2014

      Also professional sportsmen do not seem, statistically, to have very high life expectancies, so excessive cycling/excessive exercise might not be too good for you – even if you do avoid the accidents.

      American footballers, especially, seem to have amazingly low life expectancies but most professional sports seem to too.

      1. Dr M Jones
        July 29, 2014

        Lifelogic, yet again you make a bold claim without providing any evidence to back your claim up. Do you have any evidence to back this assertion?

        This study ( goes against your claim: “We found a very significant increase in average longevity (17%) of the cyclists when compared with the general population.”

        1. lifelogic
          August 1, 2014

          Well I did refer to professional sportsmen. It is hard however to separate out cause and effect. Sick people may well be less likely to cycle which would distort figures in you favour also there a a class bias in it and i suspect cyclist are less likely to smoke. Certainly there is much evidence to support my claim look at life expectancies of US footballers and uk footballers or prof rugby players for example. Watching my mum mid eighties and healthy perhaps just gentle housework and some walking is best.

        2. lifelogic
          August 1, 2014

          Two possible problems with that study spring to mind you are comparing almost certainly fit non smoking thin people with the general population also in order to compete one assumes they lived at least until about 25 or so. So unless they adjusted for this it is rather misleading. Life expectancy at 25 is far higher than at birth and is higher for health no smokers. You have to compare them with equally fit people who have reached a similar age.

    3. Mark B
      July 29, 2014


      Undoubtedly their are idiots. But the danger a cyclist represents to the general public is far less than those in a car or lorry. It is not the method of transport that is the problem, and doing away with cycles and motorcycles is not going to solve the problem of stupid people doing stupid things.

      Get the Police to do their flipping jobs ! Stop – arrest – prosecute – fine. And keep on doing it ! The problem will solve itself.

      1. lifelogic
        July 29, 2014

        More money in fining motorist for putting one tyre in an empty bus lane or taking their kids out of school a day early for a holiday than chasing cyclists without number plates i suspect.

        1. Bazman
          July 29, 2014

          Volvo drivers are well known in the motorcycle world for bad driving and not looking. There are many bad taste jokes on the this. How do you fit into this view?

          1. Lifelogic
            July 30, 2014

            Well I haven’t hit anyone yet in 30 odd years of considerable driving but then the Volvos only arrived when I had three children to transport together with surfboards, yachting & diving equipment, fencing equipment and the likes.

          2. Lifelogic.
            July 30, 2014

            The Volvo is needed to load up all the bikes, children and their gear!

          3. Lifelogic.
            July 30, 2014

            I haven’t hit anyone yet in 30 odd years of considerable driving despite cyclists and others best attempts on occasions.

        2. Bazman
          July 30, 2014

          Usual drivel without factual basis pretending to be reasonable.
          Pedal cycles are to have a number plate? How much would this all cost and how would it be enforced? You are talking about absurd regulations and their cost in many of your posts!! Are you just not very joined up in you thinking or just jealous of bike riders and their freedoms?
          A cycle is a human powered machine, so what next number plates for pedestrians?

          1. Anonymous
            July 31, 2014

            Says the man who criticised Volvo drivers without a shred of evidence.

            (They’re damn fine cars now – adopted by many class 1 police traffic divisions)

    4. Frank Salmon
      July 29, 2014

      I cannot agree on this.
      I pay road tax and also cycle, so I and the majority of cyclists have already paid for the road, relieving car drivers of congestion.
      I break the rules all the time. This is because I am safer when I am out of the way of trucks, taxis, buses and careless car drivers. It also means I am less likely to die than, for instance, female cyclists who are more likely to stick to the Highway Code.
      I want to live, and that is why I take every precaution to preserve myself when out on the road. It might look like I’m jumping a red light, cycling into oncoming traffic, going the wrong way down a one way street or cycling on the pavement, but at least I’m safer than when I’m forced on busy roads with all the myriad of hazards around me.
      What’s more, cyclists don’t kill car drivers – it’s the other way round. When did you last see or hear of someone dieing under the wheels of a cyclist?….
      Yes, more cycle paths and vehicle driver education. But a more tolerant and understanding driving public wouldn’t go amiss.
      And what about an amendment to the Highway Code along these lines:

      ‘Cyclists must above all take action to prevent themselves and others from being involved in a potentially fatal accident. If this means they have to take action that occasionally infringes the Highway Code, then, as long as there is no danger to others they should take that action, or, preferably, dismount until safe cycling can resume, remaining at all times curteous to pedestrians and other road users.’

      1. Anonymous
        July 29, 2014

        Cyclists on busy A roads pay no heed to the traffic building up behind them. The could be more considerate and pull over to let traffic pass. I have yet to see any do this but it seems that they would rather ‘go for the burn’ up a hill causing tailbacks and forcing car drivers to be late and overtake either there or later on in their journey (the most accident prone maneuver in head-on collisions.)

        Cyclists should be forced to wear orang hi viz. No other colour seems to work.

      2. Narrow shoulders
        July 29, 2014

        Pious and selfish. You speak for the breed.

        “It’s because I am safer”

        Total lack of consideration. You and your ilk are not special. The laws are there for all including you. If it is unsafe get off and walk.

        1. Bazman
          July 30, 2014

          This applies to car drivers much more. Many should not be even on the road.

          1. Narrow Shoulders
            July 31, 2014


            your responses are often of the “someone else is doing it worse” variety. I would stop the inconsiderate car drivers too but was commenting on a cyclist’s attitude. Just because one wants one thing to change does not mean that other things can not change too so your knee jerk he does it too response, is as ever, unhelpful

      3. alan jutson,
        July 29, 2014


        So what happens when you do get hit, or even worse cause an accident to others (who are perhaps at the time trying to avoid you) and suffer huge finical losses through your rather selfish behaviour.

        I guess you would also approve the wearing of headphones whilst cycling.
        Another very high risk action.

        You should drive or cycle using all of your senses, which includes your ears.

        If the use of mobile phones (quite rightly) when driving leads to fines, points and possible bans, then cyclists should also suffer the same penalties for wearing headphones.

    5. auntyestab
      July 29, 2014

      Lifelogic, thanks for reminding me why I should never contemplate voting Conservative whilst that man is leader.

    6. Nick
      July 29, 2014

      Sigh, where to start. Your reply, being the first thing I read after the ‘article’ actually makes me despair. How can this be the level of discourse/debate?

      1) Road Taxes, not a thing. What you’re paying is a tax on the emissions your vehicle produces. This is a tax levied on how much damage you, as a driver, cause to the road and the environment. The more emissions, the larger the vehicle, the more you pay. It is such a simple concept, the only explanation for your failure to grasp it can be that you deliberately choose not to. For clarity, let me repeat, your ‘road tax’ (VED) does not, in any way, pay for the roads, nor does it grant you as a motorist any right to it. Speak to drivers of electric cars for further clarification on this.

      2) Cyclists already pay for the road from, as roads are funded from general taxation.

      3) Lights are mandatory after dark for. If they’re not being used, the cyclist is can be fined.

      4) No country has ever successfully implemented registration for riding a bike. It is akin to requiring pedestrians are registered. Bikes are not 1000 KG machines powered by mini explosions, bikes are 15kg machines powered by humans.

      There are, interestingly, more uninsured (criminal) drivers on the road than there are cyclists.

      5) Cycling is far far less dangerous than being sedentary your entire life. The risks faced whilst riding pale in comparison to those you take sitting in your car, and on your sofa. See NHS statistics on heart disease and obesity.

      4) Also, take look statistics on traffic accidents. Per mile travelled, cycling is no more dangerous than walking.

      5) Your point on food as fuel, I’m not sure, is it a joke? Do you not eat food yourself? If you are serious.

      6) Drivers, who should remain on the road, routinely kill and maim pedestrians on pavements, on zebra crossings and in other cars. Drivers also plough through red lights, refuse to brake, etc. The offenses described are in no way exclusive to cyclists. The difference is though, it’s far more likely to be fatal in a car (I can explain Newtonian physics to you if you wish).

    7. Bazman
      July 29, 2014

      You are our resident fool if you still believe this same nonsense? How many times have you had your beliefs on the efficiency of bikes compared to cars shown to you? The fact that in general bikes are powered by calories from cheap fat and sugar often from overweight people and not by expensive foods is a point that you clearly do not want to believe, but have no reply to.
      The rest is your usual repetitive drivel too. Do you ever learn or do you just constantly believe the same thinking you own the facts. Rigsby was never a scientist he was a landlord.

    8. Stuart Wilson
      July 29, 2014

      Oh for goodness sake when will people learn that there is no such this as “Road Tax”. It was abolished in 1937 and replaced with VED ( Vehicle Excise Duty) which today is linked to CO2 omissions. There are some (increasing numbers) cars that are exempt from VED – electric cars. They don’t pay “road tax” either. Cyclists don’t issue any CO2 so they would be VED-exempt even if it was applied to them,

      ALL taxpayers pay for roads. The majority of road building/maintenance is paid for out of Council Tax with top ups coming from the central taxation pot (income tax, VAT etc) to help councils pay for pothole repairs etc.

      As a taxpayer, and a driver, I already pay my fair share of tax. Roads are a PUBLIC highway and as such available to use by all members of the public. Indeed cyclists and pedestrians have right of way on our roads. Motorists are only licensed to use them…a license that can be revoked at any time.

      What we need to help cyclists is dedicated, segregated cycle infrastructure that keeps cyclists separated from traffic and pedestrians. We need Dutch style infrastructure, not thin layers of paint and ridiculous paths that go nowhere and put cyclists in more danger than if they stuck to the roads.

      1. Mark
        July 30, 2014

        I’ve news for you: you exhale CO2 with every breath. More when you are exerting yourself. This is the main chemical reaction:

        C6H12O6 + 6O2 -> 6CO2 + H2O + Energy

        1. petermartin2001
          July 31, 2014

          You would only have a point if the glucose was derived from a fossil fuel. Its technically possible, but the glucose in our diets is derived from the food we eat. The CO2 in that is locked in when the food was gowing. In other words, its a bio fuel.

          Its also a very efficient bio-fuel. A good cyclist would have to pedal hard for 6 hours to lose about a pound in weight. The equivalent of about 0.6 ltre of petrol. If you don’t believe me try to lose weight cycling. Its hard! In 6 hours the cyclist would cover about 120 miles.

          That’s a better energy consumption than any powered road vehicle.

    9. Dr M Jones
      July 29, 2014

      Lifelogic, please provide a citation to back up your claim that car users “only get 40% of the road for 95%?of the traffic”. I can find no evidence whatsoever to backup this assertion.

    10. Ian Pattinson
      July 30, 2014

      So much wrong in just the first comment. Do I have to read the rest?

      Drivers go through red lights too. In fact, a few years ago, a team observing behaviour at London junctions found that drivers were more likely to run red lights than cyclists. Not by much, but the far greater danger they represented makes their behaviour much worse. Drivers wander into cycle lanes all the time and either don’t understand, or don’t care, that they’re supposed to stay out of advanced stop lanes at traffic lights.

      There is no such thing as Road Tax. Do stop going on about something that doesn’t exist.

      Cycling isn’t dangerous. Road layout, potholes and drivers can be dangerous, though.

      As for making the roads safer for cyclists-

      Drive home the fact that we have as much right as drivers to be there, our taxes pay for them just as much as yours.

      Reinstate Cycling Proficiency, or an equivalent, in schools, and put cycling awareness onto the driving test.

      Properly enforce advance stop lanes and vehicle exclusion from cycle lanes.

      More 20mph limits.

      Vastly improved cycling infrastructure.

    11. Bazman
      July 30, 2014

      More taxes? This time for cyclists to pay for cycleways. You know this could never be collected in the real world. Another do nothing idea from you.

  2. James Winfield
    July 29, 2014

    Teach cyclists the difference between roads and pavements.

  3. Aaron
    July 29, 2014

    If cyclists want to use the road, they should pay road tax to do so. Otherwise they should stick to pavements. A collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist is going to cause less damage than a collision between a car and a cyclist. A pedestrian is likely to walk away from a collision. It is doubtful if a cyclist could walk away from colliding with a bus or truck?

    Having both been knocked down and have had my laptop bag struck by cyclists in London while crossing the road, my only view is cyclists should be on the pavement, not the road, and should wear number plates so they can be reported to the police for riding dangerously.
    And their bike should be confiscated/barred from using boris bikes if they are caught jumping a red light.



    1. Mark B
      July 29, 2014

      Aaron said;
      “Having both been knocked down and have had my laptop bag struck by cyclists in London while crossing the road, my only view is cyclists should be on the pavement, not the road, and should wear number plates so they can be reported to the police for riding dangerously.”

      You might want to reread you post. Or is that a rant ?

      You say you have been knocked down whilst crossing the road. Which, according to the law, is where you would expect traffic, including cyclists over the age of 12, to be. I therefore conclude, that you were not paying attention to what you were doing and, you did not at first check to see if the road was clear before crossing.

      Cyclist on pave pavements would be worse. I will leave you to think about that one. If you cannot, then . . . ?

      Number plates are ridiculous. It is not often commented upon but, a large number of people, usually male, use cycles to move around and commit crimes. This is because of the prevalence of CCTV and data recording eg Oyster. Number plates would be stolen if even fitted.

      I like the idea of taking their bikes and impounding them, either temporarily or permanently. Get the dross of the roads, and that includes others.

    2. StanleyBaxter
      July 29, 2014

      How many times? No one has paid road tax since 1936 when it was abolished.

      That little disc on your windscreen shows that you have paid VED – a tax on your vehicle based on the emissions it produces.

      Roads and associated infrastructure are funded from general taxation.

      1. Mark B
        July 29, 2014

        A tax is a tax. No matter how you name it, or where is goes. It comes from your pocket, too the HMRC and on to the Government to spend on what they want.

        If I chose not to have a ‘Tax Disc’, and not pay the ‘Tax’, I would be fined. I can even be fined if I do not fill in a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). More theft.

        1. Lifelogic.
          July 30, 2014

          A tax is a tax, the name is chosen for political presentation reasons. It has nothing to do with the real reason for the tax. Indeed there is usually little reason other than that they like spending and usually wasting your money.

      2. petermartin2001
        August 1, 2014

        @Mark B & Lifelogic,

        It may be a tax but it is a tax on vehicle emissions.

        Electric cars and bicycles don’t directly create emissions so therefore there is no tax to pay.

        1. lifelogic
          August 2, 2014

          Of couse they create emissions cows belch and fart and power stations give off co2 – directly or nor is not relevant they are still emissions.

        2. APL
          August 4, 2014

          petermartin2001: “It may be a tax but it is a tax on vehicle emissions.”

          CO2 emissions that we shouldn’t give two hoots about, unless we had a clandestine scheme to cripple the economy.

          GDP and hence individual prosperity is directly proportional to energy consumption.

  4. Robert K
    July 29, 2014

    Two routes. Option one is to provide well defined cycle routes, ideally with physical barriers to separate cyclists from vehicles and pedestrians. Alternatively, we remove much of the excessive road signage and controls that clutter our streets and allow citizens to figure out a civil way of relating to each other on the road. I prefer the latter.

  5. Bernard from Bucks
    July 29, 2014

    Just as I would get fined for using a bus lane when I shouldn’t, cyclists should be fined for not using a dedicated cycle lane/track when provided. Many times I’ve been stuck behind cyclists using the road instead of the cycle path. It would of course be safer for them, but they regard the tracks as cissy and only there for women and children.

    1. petermartin2001
      August 1, 2014

      Cycleways are not always safer. Many have been created simply by dividing up what were previously footpaths, may be discontinuous and only on one side of the road.

      There’s a problem at every side junction. Who has right of way? The cyclist or the motorist using the junction? Technically both pedestrians and cyclists should have ROW at the junction but in reality that’s not the case as we all know.

  6. Roy Grainger
    July 29, 2014

    Start enforcing the law against cyclists. My small daughter was almost run over three times on a pedestrian crossing by cyclists ignoring a red light. At that point and not before I might consider funding improvements for them.

  7. Mike Stallard
    July 29, 2014

    If Holland – even more overcrowded than we are – can do it even in the midst of drug crazed Amsterdam, why can’t we?

    1. Mark
      July 30, 2014

      In Holland many of the cycle lanes were built at the behest of the Germans in WW II for their motorcycles so they didn’t have to share the tank rutted main roads. Heavy bombing of many Dutch cities allowed post-war reconstruction that took cycle lanes further into account.

  8. Margaret Brandreth-J
    July 29, 2014

    Cycling is obviously the cleanest way of getting around inner cities. As many cyclists comment the cycle lanes often stop abruptly and don’t go anywhere.One of our famous inner city cyclists Jon Snow often talks about the problems he has getting around town, but has managed to keep fit all his life , by simply going to work.

    Cycling should be encouraged. I only wish that the land around my area was flatter so I could do likewise. A family member of mine uses a small bike which folds , takes it on the train and then uses it again the other side of the journey.(These bikes have a name which escapes me)

    Good luck to all cyclists who make an effort . Councils please just don’t take the making of cycle lanes ” on board”….. do something about it.

    1. Jagman84
      July 29, 2014

      Margaret, I think the word you are looking for is “Deathtrap”. Especially if used in Central London.

    2. Roy Grainger
      July 30, 2014

      Jon Snow, as with all left-wingers, has only one solution to the problem which is more state spending. A while ago he was saying the potholes on Haymarket in Central London should be mended and Westeminster’s Council tax should be increased to fund it. The fact that Westminster covers some of the poorest areas in London was entirely irrelevant to him – they have to pay so that the handful of people like him cycling down Haymarket are not inconvenienced.

  9. Paul
    July 29, 2014

    What’s a “road tax”? Drivers don’t pay this, so it a figure of the above’s imagination? They do pay an annual duty on emissions though, with low emission cars usually exempt. So not all drivers pay it.

    So basically the only universal tax that drivers pay is fuel duty…umm, can’t exactly charge cyclists that, can you. That leaves a near universal income tax and VAT. Well, I’d imagine most London cyclists pay that too.

    So in calling for a “road tax” to be applied to cyclists, the above is essentially calling for a specialised, penal tax applied to cyclists only. Ignorant plonkers.

  10. Chris
    July 29, 2014

    We have many cycle paths where I live, and I think they are a very good thing and use them myself on occasion, but many many cyclists don’t use them at all! (Some ed) in particular only use the roads, and seem to take a perverse delight in holding up car traffic. Their their self-righteousness is almost an aura…
    I think that the law needs to be changed so that cyclists can be charged by the police if they use the road ( or pavement) when a cycle path or lane is available.
    It really isn’t right that the sanctimonious preachers of the pro-cycling lobby should ‘have it both ways’ -demanding more cycle paths/lanes (and getting them), and condemning car & HGV drivers as the sole cause of injuries and fatalities amongst cyclists.

  11. alan jutson,
    July 29, 2014

    Car drivers who have ridden a bike, motor scooter or motor bike, usually have a better understanding of those means of transport than those who have not, simply because they are aware of road hazards (manholes, white lines, pot holes etc) and what may cause them to stray from a straight line.

    No excuse whatsoever for going through red lights, or ignoring other traffic signs, and undertaking as you do so at your peril, likewise cycling on pavements, especially when cycling fast.

    Yes separate cyclists from other traffic, with white lines if possible, and if room permits, but please do not spend millions on dedicated cycle lanes for just a few users when they are not insured, are not registered, licenced or need to undertake some sort of test.

    The Council is constructing a cycle lane in Lower Earley at the moment, about a mile long 2.5 metres wide with kerbs and drainage, which involved moving street lights and diverted traffic for months (still not finished) must be costing £millions.
    Yes I really do mean millions, in 20 years I have yet to see a cyclist on that stretch of road.
    For the same sum we could have had thousands of potholes filled and some roads resurfaced, which would have far more benefit to far more people, cyclists included.

    Utter Madness.

    1. Know-Dice
      July 30, 2014

      Lower Earley – Not millions £800,000 ish, justification is that a portion of that comes from Government funding… £350,000 ish came from a fund that should benefit the whole of the local community – not just cyclists… (figures are “ball park”)

      It is badly located and duplicates an existing cycle path that is much quieter and better situated.

      14,000 vehicles a day use Lower Earley Way vs. the maybe 10-20 cyclists on a good day…

      I can see cyclists will hop off this cycle lane at the various junctions and roundabouts in order to get “right of way” over other traffic.

      The idea above that the Police should be able to stop cyclists that are not using cycle lanes (when they are available) is reasonable.

      As far as VED goes even the Government call it a “Tax Disc” URL for renewal is – ….

    2. lifelogic
      August 2, 2014

      Utter madness is their speciality they do not care if they can get the funding they will do it regardless or inconvenience or lack of any reason.

  12. Old Albion
    July 29, 2014

    If cyclists wish to use the roads, then cyclists need to observe the rules of the road.
    Insurance should be mandatory.

  13. Mark
    July 29, 2014

    I both drive and cycle, and I really think it’s completely unfair that I pay additional taxes to use my car and am required to be insured and traceable, yet when cycling I pay nothing, am not registered, and am unlikely to suffer any penalty even if I do cause an accident.

    Cyclists should be required to have insurance if driving on the road, and should be liable if an accident is deemed to be their fault.

    1. Bazman
      July 30, 2014

      Would this also apply to pedestrians?

  14. Mark B
    July 29, 2014

    I took up cycling to work because I was sick and tired of being treated worse than cattle off too slaughter, when traveling on rail, bus and underground. And being expected to pay for the privilege of such treatment.

    I lost a lot of weight and became incredibly fit. The cost of the bike and equipment, was paid back to me in monies saved in the first year. After that, I was keeping more of what I earned and those that treated me so poorly, less.

    The downside to being a serious cyclist, as I regarded myself, was that I was mostly wet and cold and was in constant danger. But I could get to work pretty quickly whilst most were stuck in their cars or ‘cattle trucks.’

    I have had quite a few near misses, and one fatal near miss which, had I not been wearing a helmet, I most certainly would not be here ! Some of these could be put down to me, the near miss though was not.

    But being both a Knight in Lycra on my trusty two wheeled steed and a hard pressed motorists, I know which of those I would prefer to travel on – my bike(s).

    But cyclists are a problem on our roads. Or more to the point, the hobby, fair-weather type. They truly are a menace and I think it high time the Police started to prosecute a few of them for their acts of sheer stupidity. For the record, I do not jump lights !

    The Government already does enough with its, ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme. Although it should do more to improve road safety, and should have a section in the highway code (if not already there) dedicated for both cycling and motorcycling safety and awareness, it should be demanding from cyclists that have lights. Safety equipment (lights, helmets etc) is non-VAT, so the Government helps there. Personally, I think it does more than enough, and it is up to each and everyone of us to do our bit, without government assistance.

    The Boris bikes are a good idea, and that, along with private sponsorship, should be promoted elsewhere.

    But the if there is one thing I would like our kind host to address, which will be of benefit to one and all who use the roads. It is to fix all those pot-holes that have suddenly appeared. We can see the Government has siphon of the Road Fund / Tax license money to other areas.

    1. lifelogic
      August 2, 2014

      Fixing pot holes and emptying bins oh that is beneath governments and councils far more money in over regulation licensing and fining motorists and dustbin users

  15. Peter Van Leeuwen
    July 29, 2014

    In the Netherlands, standard dedicated cycle lanes only happened after many protests in the 60ties, and this cannot happen overnight in Britain. Allocating more money to developing bicycle infrastructure has to happen first, according to a BBC clip some time ago, Britain spends only 16% of Dutch expenditure for cyclists.

    1. Anonymous
      July 30, 2014

      Holland is flat and less crowded than Britain, so cycling requires less fitness, alertness and makes practical sense for a far wider range of people.

      1. Peter Van Leeuwen
        August 1, 2014

        Netherlands 408 per km2, Britain 249 per km2,
        you’re misinformed

  16. John E
    July 29, 2014

    It’s worth remembering that most cyclists are also drivers – we are not separate tribes.

    Most of my journeys are by car. I hate driving in parts of London due to the aggression of the cyclists. They seem to think that being really angry all the time will keep them safe. I’m also a cyclist who was badly injured by a reckless driver on the Showcase roundabout in Winnersh and the brother-in-law of a cyclist who nearly lost his leg after being struck by a driver who decided not to stop at a red light on the A4 in West London.
    Before my incident I used to cycle every day to work. Afterwards I decided I wanted to stay around to see my family grow up and bought a second car.
    Separate lanes and segregation are really the only safe solution in my view.

  17. Iain Gill
    July 29, 2014

    Re “So how should we handle the growing popularity of cycling?”
    Cycling proficiency training to be compulsory part of school.
    Re “Should we seek to build more dedicated cycle ways that can segregate cyclists from traffic?”
    Milton Keynes tried this. Probably the only town which was purpose built from the start with comprehensive cycle lanes designed in from the start. Sadly I have to report that these are mainly used by the criminal classes as a sophisticated set of escape routes down which they know that police will not chase. No more cycling than any other similar sized town, and probably just as many casualties (let’s hear the factual figures?). Before we go spending more silly amounts on cycle paths lets learn the lessons from Milton Keynes please?
    Re “Should part of the pavement be used for this where possible?”
    No especially not the way it’s been implemented by many councils with pedestrians squashed into a tiny width while the small number of cyclists get large amounts of space. The reality in many places is that pedestrians are the majority and should have the space, especially as they need space to allow wheelchairs, pushchairs, etc. in. I have seen many coastal footpaths halved and half given to cyclists, on a summers days it just legitimises the small number of cyclists barging into the large numbers of pedestrians who are too many to fit in the remaining space allocated to pedestrians.
    Re “segregating the cyclist from pedestrians?” a bigger casualty reduction bang for your buck would be to separate drunk pedestrians from cars, late night taxi queues for instance should have barriers between them and the road system.
    Re “What further measures can drivers take to avoid blind spots that stop them seeing cyclists at risk?”
    Stop driving left hand drive vehicles in this country. I would ban left hand drive HGV’s and force haulage companies to swap to right hand drive at Dover.
    Re “How can more drivers be tolerant and understanding of cyclists?” Err given the vast numbers of intolerant, abusive, law breaking cyclists on our roads you should balance this statement. It is not primarily drivers to blame, but also cyclists, town planners, road planners, etc.

  18. Graham
    July 29, 2014


    Not the most inspiring of questions today is it when there are so many burning issues to tackle?

    1. Mark B
      July 29, 2014


      It’s hard to disagree. But can be said on those other issues, can be said elsewhere. It is our kind hosts blog, and he chooses what to talk about.

      Talking about bikes seems a bit frivolous, but it seems by the number of posts a reasonably topical issue.

      Reply We have talked much more about war and peace, the EU, foreign policy etc. There has to be some variety, and this issue is very important to many cyclists and motorists as the responses show

      1. Anonymous
        July 30, 2014

        We lose more people through road accidents than war.

        1. Iain Gill
          July 31, 2014

          We lose more people from NHS screw ups than from road accidents.

          1. lifelogic
            August 2, 2014

            Indeed free at the point of rationing, incompetence and indifference.

  19. Jonathan
    July 29, 2014

    I’m all for more cycle lanes but there is a question regarding space and cost of the lanes. There is also the safety factor and for this we need to look to the Continent and learn how they regulate cyclists; lights, high vis clothes and road worthiness should be essential.
    At the end of the day if the cyclists are on the road they should be compelled to follow the laws of the road; no undertaking, insurance as compulsory etc…

  20. Ex-expat Colin
    July 29, 2014

    So how should we handle the growing popularity of cycling?

    You won’t be able to, other than put all responsibility for a cyclists safety upon vehicle drivers. Not as part of a code either.

    Risk Reduction (some):

    Since such popularity rises then likely roads would ultimately have to be dedicated.

    Cyclists probably need mandatory injury cover, so the NHS does not have to take the repeated financial hit.

    Cyclists using country roads need to get out of the habit of grouping in 20 (odd) long strings.

    Interfering with pavements in cities is wrong. Its bad enough trying to dodge the over populated paths now. Those on their phones usually! Nose down heading south?

    Its a human factors problem…too many nuts at the end of wheels.

    Lilley and Stringer got it right (Vote Against Climate Committee’s IPCC Report)

    1. Anonymous
      July 30, 2014

      If you think ‘crash for cash’ was bad you wait until cyclists start throwing themselves at cars.

      Drivers are going to need cameras pointing at every angle from their cars.

  21. David
    July 29, 2014

    There are many pavements which are wide enough for cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist and cyclists should be encouraged to use them.
    This could be to everyones benefit because more cyclists (and therefore less drivers/public transport users) would reduce congestion on the roads/tubes etc.
    I would also let cyclists get off their bikes and walk across pedestrian crossings so they can get away from the cars quicker.

    1. lifelogic
      July 29, 2014

      They just cycle across pedestrian crossing anyway.

      1. Bazman
        July 30, 2014

        Ever see how many cars drive across red lights?

  22. Mick Anderson
    July 29, 2014

    There are different issues with cyclists in cities and rural areas, but the common factor seems to be that cyclists now believe they are to be treated as Gods. In cities and towns, rules of the road (or even basic politeness) don’t apply. On country lanes, they can cause as much of an obstruction as they like.

    As a child I was taught that I was vulnerable on a bicycle, and that the only person out there responsible for my safety was me. Now it seems that any issue between a cyclist and another road user (or pedestrian) is never ever the cyclist fault, and they have to be awarded massive compensation on the other parties insurance.

    The responsibility pendulum needs to swing back the other way, as with so much in this brave new world….

  23. a-tracy
    July 29, 2014

    When there are cycle lanes they should be compulsory use and road swept instead of cyclists dangerously driving on 70mph roads with a cycle lane next to it that road users are expecting them to be on.

    When cycling in packs there should be a rule about not holding cars up for more than one mile and forcing them to thin out so that safe overtaking can be achieved.

    I also think that there is room for a discussion about hi-viz fitted body straps to put over clothes, the number of cyclists totally in black with just a little intermittent light powered from their pedaling has grown and it’s insufficient at dusk.

    I see cyclists running red lights, give us a reporting mechanism so that we can send videos of regular offenders to the authorities because they are really dangerous and put pedestrians and vehicles at risk.

    Motorcyclists are similarly breaking the rules all the time. On the motorway we had a guy aggressively thump our window from a bike gang and tell us to move to the right into the gutter of the motorway because he couldn’t quite get his gang through between the second lane and third lane traffic, he didn’t want to drive in the gutter and we were square within our lane, next to a wagon. I videoed them on my ipad weaving through in and out because he was so rude and abusive and the police car didn’t stop them. Just last night one guy was dangerously overtaking everyone driving within the speed limit doing 40 mph on the way home, he cut in on cars three times and yet we’re warned all the time Think Bike! It’s time motor-bikers had to wear a high viz strip too when they are wearing black leather.

  24. behindthefrogs
    July 29, 2014

    One way would be to stop motorists parking on cycle paths. I cycle regularly between Wokingham and Reading and can guarantee that I am forced off the designated cycle path two or three times every time that I make that journey.

    Not infrequently when this happens I am abused by motorists and told to get back on the cycle path.

  25. Observer
    July 29, 2014

    I frequently walk along country roads with no footpaths. They are used by cycling clubs as Tours de GB. Unfortunately they no longer possess “audible warning of approach” other than shouting to their compatriots. I have been fortunate so far in only having near misses when they overtake but it will only be a matter of time before one becomes entangled in the dog’s lead with unfortunate consequences. The Court may insist on the dog being put down for it’s reaction unfortunately the same cannot be done for the cyclist.

  26. ian
    July 29, 2014

    Sensors on the side of the lorry or bus about three each side with flashing red light in the cab. Stick on and one on the cyclist helmet.

  27. Andy H
    July 29, 2014

    Perhaps I can try and bring some balance to the comments above and maybe even be constructive.

    First I am both a car driver and a cyclist. When cycling I commute a relatively short 6 miles to work at Winnersh. I also try and do longer routes at the weekend. Irrespective of whether I’m driving or cycling, I try and do it safely and considerately. Overall I see way more idiotic car drivers than cyclists.

    I would like to cycle more but am constantly nervous about the lack of provision for safe cycling in the setup of our roads. There’s not much I can do about it if a car misjudges overtaking me on Mole Road at 50mph and throws me into a ditch. Nonetheless, the health benefits to me have been significant and fundamentally I enjoy it, way more than driving. Nonetheless, I would be much happier to be physically separated from fast cars on more of my route.

    In principle I would be happy to pay some form of contribution towards the upkeep of improved cycle only lanes and road sections. However the government needs to do this under a sensible total reassessment of funding for roads. Today we have to maintain 2 cars (living in the countryside, and one ideally has to be a 4×4) and pay about £750 a year road tax – for the privilege of driving a total of about 20K miles a year. Once I start getting charged road tax in proportion to miles driven, and therefore making a proportionate contribution to wear and tear, general emissions, etc, then I can easily imagine being asked to pay something for cycle tax to contribute to better cycling on roadways would be much easier to contemplate. Today though, it is all out of balance.

    Thanks for asking the question though, John. Out of interest, have you cycled to work yourself recently?

    Reply I walk to work when In London.

    1. Bazman
      July 30, 2014

      How is this ludicrous cycled tax to be enforced and by who? Should it apply to small children on bikes and if it cost many times the amount collected still be applied?

  28. Adrian Lawson
    July 29, 2014

    Firstly you should remember that buses and lorries and cars do not in themselves see or do anything. It is the driver. Driver training is extremely important.
    One thing that could be raised in training drivers is that the money they pay for the vehicle excise duty does not offer any entitlement to use the roads, so they learn at an early stage in their driving career exactly how that works and people will then stop asking cyclists to pay to use the roads.
    Whilst drivers are being trained they could be taught how to overtake cyclists and being behind one does not automatically mean you should aim to be in front of one until it is safe.
    There should also be clear guidelines for local authorities about design and implementation of cycling infrastructure. The standards vary from place to place, and it becomes extremely inconsistent, which leads to confusion. Councils still convert pavements to shared use, they rarely build cycle lanes to the recommended width, and often assume cyclists and pedestrians happily share the same facility.
    The police should be much better at seeing collisions from the cyclist’s perspective. We have been told that 75% of collisions in the Reading area involving cyclists were the fault of the driver. Yet when drivers are reported using video evidence of poor driving there is very rarely any action.
    Perhaps you would like to come to a meeting of Reading Cycle Campaign (which has 560 members) and discuss in more depth what could be done to make things safer. Contact

  29. JimS
    July 29, 2014

    Why should ‘we’ help the cyclist? Why not help the skateboarder, the roller skater, the footballer, the street hockey player or any one else who thinks the highway should be their playground?

    When people were relatively poor and worked within a mile and a quarter of their workplace there was a place for the cycle ON THE ROAD, (cycling on the pavement was an absolute no-no). Now cycles are just a choice of a noisy, selfish minority who expect everyone else to accommodate them. They expect personal shower facilities at work, secure parking facilities and the right to abuse the highways as the see fit. They ride downhill at 45 mph, uphill in bus lanes at 2 mph and on pavements at 14 mph. They think they can turn and stop on a dime, oblivious to the laws of Newton and blame others when they find they were wrong.
    New York brought in the concept of ‘zero-tolerance’ for crime – small crimes lead to bigger crimes. The cycle is a crime vector. Forty percent of bikes are stolen. They are a first step on the theft rung, they are used as the next step to car theft and housebreaking. Because ‘the law’ is blind to their traffic crimes they encourage others to do the same. If a bike can ‘safely’ go through a red light or barge across a pedestrian crossing so can a 4×4! If a bike can go the wrong way down a street why can’t a car?
    What about the pedestrian? Motor vehicles and pedestrians actually get on quite well; cars stay on the road and go in straight lines on the road, pedestrians stay on pavements or cross the road at right angles. Pedestrians used to know that they could come to a dead stand or make abrupt turns on a pavement quite safely. They get used to hearing the ‘quiet’ gaps between road traffic. The last thing they need is ‘silent’ bikes on the pavement travelling at four times the speed or racing on the road on EITHER side. (Last week I was walking on the left of the pavement, facing the oncoming traffic when suddenly a velo-post rider shot off the road and cut straight across my path from behind).
    If people want to cycle let them pay for velodromes. Get them OFF the road and OFF the PAVEMENTS!

    Reply I do not believe your high figure for stolen bikes.Most people ride their own cycles which they have bought.

    1. Roy Grainger
      July 30, 2014

      I bet that 40% figure for stolen bikes is close to correct in London just based on personal and anecdotal evidence – it would be interesting to see evidence.

  30. Ray Veysey
    July 29, 2014

    Have you a Nero complex? the UK is being destroyed right in front of you and you’re playing the violin.
    What do you propose to tell people about the fact that after Nov 1st we have to get permission from the 27 other countries in Europe to have a referendum, and how likely that is. Explain that Cameron, and yourself are both aware of this and you have failed to mention it.
    Lets see you ride that bike.

    1. Mark B
      July 29, 2014

      No we do not need the permission of the other 27. You are talking rubbish.

    2. Brian Tomkinson
      July 29, 2014

      Good point, well made.
      Not surprising really though as I remember that Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph reported that on Monday 14th May this year our host with others attended a private dinner with party chairman Grant Shapps. Brogan went on to report that: “It was Mr Redwood, I am told, who urged Mr Shapps and his colleagues to hold the line, keep their heads. The last thing anyone should do, he said, was to go out and stir trouble in the media or try to undermine Mr Cameron. Cue relief in CCHQ to find that the heavy mob are now on side.”

      Reply: As I told you at the time, this was not a full or accurate transcript of a private meeting where many things were said.

      1. Kenneth R Moore
        July 30, 2014

        If anything like that was said it would be most unwise advice. Doesnt sound like your words Dr Redwood as I know you don’t subscribe to the ‘divided party’s lose elections’ rubbish. Party’s that allow bad unpopular policy to go unchecked because fools are too scared to ‘rock the boat’ lose elections. That’s something for Mr Shapps to reflect on. I hope you offered this as advice.

        As your said yourself ‘you can be too loyal’. Without ‘trouble’ and individuals willing to deviate ‘from the line’ Cameron’s idiocy would continue untroubled.

  31. PayDirt
    July 29, 2014

    Cyclists in Amsterdam don’t seem to have the same problems. There are of course numerous cycle lanes and cycle traffic signals to facilitate traffic flow, but then again the Dutch cyclists are usually not in a race to beat other road users to the head of the queue as is the case with many London racers. Cycle lanes are also not the whole solution, I’ve seen several cyclists on dual carriageways rather than taking the cycle lane, I guess the cycle lane is not as fast as there tend to be potholes and of course Stop signs at each and every junction. So, cyclists need to SLOW down if they are in traffic (and stop listening to their mobile phone / music ipods as they weave in and out).

  32. English Pensioner
    July 29, 2014

    I’m rapidly becoming less tolerant of cyclists due to a small irresponsible minority.
    During the past couple of weeks, I’ve observed
    1. A cyclist passing me on the inside whilst I was stopped at a light controlled pedestrian crossing and then riding straight on in spite of the pedestrians on the crossing.
    2. A cyclist going down a one-way street in the wrong direction and swearing at a pedestrian who didn’t see him coming.
    3. Riding two abreast along a double-white lined road, so preventing any vehicle from overtaking, resulting in a traffic hold up for over a mile.
    4. Riding on the pavement in the town centre and knocking over a toddler and then having the audacity to try to blame the mother.
    These in addition to the on-going problem of cyclists who seem determined to commit suicide by riding bikes at night without lights along unlit roads wearing camouflage clothing!
    This irresponsible minority ends up causing problems for the responsible majority and it would be in the interests of all if cyclists had to have proper training & insurance.

    1. Mark B
      July 29, 2014

      Training and insurance will not work. many will not bother with neither, and the Police struggle with motorists who not have either a licence, insurance or Road ‘Tax’.

    2. Joe Nobody
      July 29, 2014

      3. Riding two abreast along a double-white lined road, so preventing any vehicle from overtaking, resulting in a traffic hold up for over a mile.

      You need to re-read your highway code – See Highway Code rule #129. If no-one was overtaking it wasn’t the fault of the cyclists, it was due to the lack of understanding of what’s allowed.

      Out of interest, why do the irresponsible minority of cyclists upset you so much? Do you not get so upset by the irresponsible minority (majority even) of motorists who pay scant regard for the rules? Those who jump lights (I see it daily), use their phones while driving (see that almost daily), don’t indicate (daily occurrence), break the speed limit (another daily occurrence)?

      I have a feeling their behaviour fuels a pre-existing prejudice, rather than your prejudice being formed on the basis of their behaviour. You’re just blind to the fact.

  33. Kenneth R Moore
    July 29, 2014

    Cycling on the pavement or without lights used to be a crime that could get your name in the local paper and a trip to the local magistrates court. Is Dr Redwood saying it’s now okay and socially acceptable to ride on a footpath ?

    1. behindthefrogs
      July 30, 2014

      Some years ago I was stopped by a policeman in Bracknell for cycling without a rear light. I thanked him for telling me and immediately installed the spare batteries which I always carry. I was then astounded to be told by the policeman to stop cycling on the road but to cycle on the pavement instead.

  34. Narrow shoulders
    July 29, 2014

    I am glad of those who use bikes instead of public transport. Imagine the capacity issues if they all tried to catch the tube or buses with our continually arriving subsidised friends from Europe.

    I object to the pious nature of many cyclist and that they feel in some way entilted to special treatment. A registration system may make them more inclined to follow the rules and therefore be less likely to be injured.

    As for segregation, a grand idea but with space already at a premium due to new subsidised arrivals from the EU there is a cost attached. Registration and fines may go someway to covering that cost.

  35. Dr M Jones
    July 29, 2014

    There are a number of inaccuracies in the above replies that I wish to address.

    1. Road tax does not exist. Accordingly, neither motorists nor cyclists alike pay it. It was abolished in 1937. Many motorists pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which is based on CO2 emissions. As bicycles do not emit CO2, they are not charged VED. Band A vehicles are also not charged VED.

    2. VED is not ring fenced for the construction and upkeep of roads. This is done via general (largely income tax) and council tax. If you are a UK tax payer, you contribute towards the roads.

    3. VED alone does not cover the associated costs of motorised transport. As it stands, motor vehicles are subsidised by the general tax payer. They do not “pay their way”. (Citations available upon request.)

    4. Registration schemes for cyclists have been tried in the past by a number of countries. However, they found the scheme to be inefficient and too costly for the gains. Ultimately the scheme was axed.

    5. Yes, some cyclist certainly do jump red lights, undertake, cut corners etc. I have witnessed these myself. But I have also witnessed motor vehicles do the same. Neither side of the argument has perfect behaviour.

    6. It is perfectly legal to cycle in the middle of the lane. In fact, in many scenarios, cyclists are advised to do it.

    7. It is also entirely legal to cycle two abreast.

    8. Cars are not more efficient than cycles (although certainly their efficiency is improving). Cars max out at about 30% energy efficiency, whereas bicycles are about 98% energy efficient. There are numerous citations/webpage to back this claim up.

    9. Lifelogic, please provide a citation to back up your claim that car users “only get 40% of the road for 95%?of the traffic”. I can find no evidence whatsoever to backup this assertion.

    1. lifelogic
      August 2, 2014

      Well may roads have have bus lanes and bike lanes virtually empty and huge queues of cars in one lane perhaps held up by one car turning right. Cleary mainly for bus lane fine reasons.

  36. John Tuck
    July 29, 2014

    There’s no such thing as car tax it’s Vehicle Excise Duty, it goes to the treasury, is not necessarily for roads. We need to invest more in cycleways. We are the 5th or 7th richest nation on the planet (depending on whose stats you refer to), so there should not be a problem funding this.

  37. paul
    July 29, 2014

    Introduce presumed liability so that vulnerable road users including pedestrians don’t have to fight for compensation

    Penalize drivers properly with jail sentences when they kill and maim pedestrians and cyclists

    Build cycling infrastructure that is fit for purpose

    Make it illegal to ferry your kids to school in a car

    1. lifelogic
      July 29, 2014

      Presumed liability is an idiotic idea we have enough whiplash fraud already without encouraging biker to cycle into cars for a quick lottery win.

      1. paul
        July 29, 2014

        So you are against the existing presumed liability when, someone drives into the back of another vehicle they are generally assumed to be at fault? That would cut down fraud.

        Presumed liability works well enough in every other European country other than Malta, Cyprus, Romania, and Ireland. Why not here?

        1. lifelogic
          August 2, 2014

          It is as moronic and unfair as Cameron’s idiotic gender neutral insurance and pensions law.

  38. John
    July 29, 2014

    Well, it’s easy to stereotype as usual isn’t it. Nice to see the usual intolerance raising it’s ugly head on your page, is it really ok to knock another human being off on their daily journey?
    I’m a cyclist and a car user, I therefore pay for using the road.
    take cyclists off road with dedicated cycle routes! Yes.
    Educate all road users about the importance of being seen and everyone tolerating each other. there are bad car drivers, and bad cyclists.
    Cycling on the pavement isn’t the answer…ask the pedestrians!

    What most cyclists want is a quick route from a-b, that’s more environmentally friendly and cheaper than the car. My new commute is by cycle and train to Camberley, and I can tell you, it’s quicker than driving..and cheaper. They won’t want to stop, get off, walk the long way round etc…

    Seriously, I get pissed off when I see idiots cycling through red lights as much as the next man, as much as I get pissed off when car drivers fail to leave me enough room or act equally as intolerably. Learn to live together!

    How about encouraging facilities in the workplace: showers, education schemes etc

  39. Jennifer Gallagher
    July 29, 2014

    There are so many fallacies relating to cycling which have been exhibited perfectly by the comments left so far that it would be pointless to argue with each one without starting an off-topic debate.

    The segregation of cyclists from “traffic” implies that they are not traffic, but they are and to force cyclists on to pavements or cycle paths is counter-productive in wanting to encourage more cycling. I cycle commute to work every day and I cycle in traffic. I have a legal right to cycle on a road because I pay for the roads with taxes (not road tax because I’m sorry to inform those who believe otherwise, but it doesn’t exist).

    I choose to cycle because it is cheaper, better for the environment, and quicker than any other way of getting in to work.

    Yes, improvements can be made to encourage others to cycle as well: better road surfaces, better road layouts that make it less confusing for all forms of traffic. But more important than that is improvements to educate people. Motorists need to be educated that cyclists have a right to be on the road and do not have to be on the pavement or in the gutter. Cyclists need to be educated that they do need to behave like a vehicle (stopping at red lights and signalling for example).

    Whilst an extensive network of ‘off-road’ cycle paths is nice, that will only encourage those in cars and vans to believe that they own the roads and that no one else has a right to use them, so when a cyclist reaches somewhere that doesn’t have a cycle path they will be forced back onto the road and back into the same problems we already have.

    Education is the key! That, and properly penalising drivers who kill cyclists, which is currently not happening.

  40. I drive & cycle
    July 29, 2014

    It’s interesting that the first three responses focus on cyclists rather than drivers. Unfortunately it suggests a common mindset that clearly needs balancing.

    I’m a driver who also occasionally rides a bike. I can’t comment on cycling in London as I live Wokingham which, while improving its cycling infrastructure, is actually a reasonable place to ride a bike. However, I’d like to address a some of points raised.

    Firstly, that of “road tax”. Roads are paid for out of general taxation – there is no such thing as “road tax”. Car tax or, more accurately, VED is an emissions-based tax on vehicles. Some cars pay none, should they be excluded from road use? Bikes emit nothing, should they pay VED, what do you suggest they pay? According to the current rules it would be £0. I don’t have numbers to qualify this, but I’m sure most cyclists pay tax – I do. In fact, I pay a lot of tax, particularly income tax, but also VED on two cars, and a whole host of other taxes. Should I have higher priority on the road that those who pay less tax, or none at all? Don’t forget that more bikes on the road should also mean fewer cars.

    Riding two abreast is perfectly legal. In fact, it should even be easier to pass cyclists riding two abreast than in line. The reason you get stuck behind cyclists is not because of anything they’re not doing, but rather because of other causes (traffic moving in the opposite direction typically, or parked cars).

    Cycling on pavements is an interesting topic. Currently it’s illegal unless on shared use paths. However, there is evidence to suggest that, given the ped vs cyclist fatality rate is zero (or at least close enough to it), it should be more broadly allowed. That does depend somewhat on the speed of the cyclist though – would you want someone riding at 15mph+ on the pavement?

    When it comes to road deaths it seems odd to suggest banning cycling because of a high mortality rate. Cyclists never (or at least rarely ever) kill anyone, but cars kill many more people, including pedestrians, cyclists, and other car drivers. Surely banning the danger is better than banning the endangered? Otherwise, let’s call for a complete ban on anything that is risky to life?

    I’m not suggesting that cyclists are completely without fault. Certainly there’s a valid argument that if cyclists aren’t whiter than white they shouldn’t really be complaining. However, why don’t we see as many complaints of drivers jumping red lights (I see it daily), not indicating (again, a daily occurrence), or otherwise breaking some traffic law or other (speeding, ad, yes, I’m guilty of that too)? The “cyclists should stop breaking the law” doesn’t hold any weight unless it’s applied evenly across all road users.

    I could write so much more but I have to get home to my family – by car today, but any cyclist you see could be doing the same, so show a bit of patience and courtesy. If not for them, then for their family who, I’m sure, would like them to get home safely. If you’re experiencing rude or abusive cyclists it’s likely because they feel you’ve threatened their lives in some way, deliberately or otherwise. Perhaps then, you should think carefully about what you did to cause their behaviour…

  41. Adam Reynolds
    July 29, 2014

    The problem is that cycle infrastructure for rural areas has to be a very different beast for that provided within cities.

    So when we talk about provision of cycle infrastructure in cities it becomes complicated due to the lack of space. This ‘lack of space’ is driven by the fact most cities were never designed for cars and have had, in the past, made the car the king of the road. A number of countries (even the USA) are recognising that the car just doesn’t work inside cities and cycle infrastructure provision not only reduces congestion but also provides health benefits.

    So city cycle provision isn’t just about putting in more cycle infrastructure, it’s about making it less attractive to use the car and more attractive to use a bicycle/walk/public transport.

    So yes, we need more segregated infrastructure at the expense of space for cars (e.g. removal of parking on major routes).

    Yes, the infrastructure must be usable by people aged 8-80 (so gold standard infrastructure).

    Yes, we need to make it ‘hard’ for a car driver to come into a city and persuade drivers to leave the car at the city boundary.

    We need to recognise that we have had a real drop in vehicle use since 1996 by 15% and that the DfT’s traffic model still continually predicts vehicle use increasing and uses these models to justify a 24 billion road building programme. 48% of the population does not own or use a car. We, as a country, and particularly our politicians, need to recognise that our dependence on the car is unhealthy, is a financial and health time bomb, and we need real leadership on this issue.

    We need to set a minimum ‘gold standard’ for cycle provision, enable councils to easily remove parking from primary routes (if needed) and provide funding (from the DfT I would suggest) to enable councils to implement bold segregated/protected infrastructure to persuade people to switch from car to bicycle/walking.

    I would strongly look to Wales and their active travel bill. We need legislation that provides inter-departmental support for the provision of active travel in everything the government does. A legal requirement.

    When it comes to more rural areas, this naturally has to work differently. There are major cost implications however the idea of connecting communities together (and specifically to rural schools) must be a high priority. It is through the provision of safe traffic free shared paths between villages and towns (if possible taking the flattest route) where the path has priority over turning traffic that you begin to get better healthier connected communities.

    Oh one more thing, in cities, kill the concept of Traffic Flow. The DfT uses this as a basis to create some horrendous pedestrian/cycling infrastructure where the car is king. The principle that a motorised vehicle should be able to smoothly travel across a city needs to be rethought.

  42. Lindsay McDougall
    July 29, 2014

    Given the design of our urban street networks, the only practical way to segregate cyclists from traffic is to have some complete roads dedicated to cyclists only. For it to be popular, cycling must be safe.

    In Cambridge, the cyclists’ city, this can effectively happen by default. Going back 50 years, at quarter to nine every morning engineering students used to cycle en masse along the one way street going past St Johns and Trinity colleges; motorists were scared out of their wits. I’m told that the one way system now goes the other way.

  43. Liz
    July 29, 2014

    I commute regularly by bike and I don’t jump red lights, go on the pavement or anything else that Lifelogic mentions. Nor do I undertake lorries or buses, because I don’t have a death wish. I commute because the cycle routes in Reading make it a quicker way to get to work than sitting in traffic, and it is good for my health.

    Most people are also aware that there is no such thing as ‘Road Tax’, instead there is Vehicle Excise Duty which is based on emissions, which at 21g/km for the average cyclist would put us in Band A, therefore we wouldn’t have to pay anything.

    John, thanks for asking our opinion on this issue. My preference as a commuting cyclist is for on-road cycle lanes, but many would disagree with me and obviously it is difficult and / or costly to convert existing (often narrow) roads for this purpose. The main thing I would suggest would be to consult with cyclists, bus and lorry drivers to identify and focus on the riskiest junctions and see what can be done to make them safer for all. The other thing would be to make sure cycle routes are more clearly marked, otherwise it can be difficult for a non-local cyclist, and pedestrians are often not aware that they are walking in areas designated to be shared with cyclists (e.g. in central Reading).

  44. lifelogic
    July 29, 2014

    I see Cameron in the Telegraph is at his usual vacuous best pretending to be doing something about immigration and benefit tourists. He is powerless given his heart and soul nature to do anything but pretend, as he rather pathetically tries to in this article. Employers will be forced to advertise in the UK too, on a loo notice board somewhere one assumes brilliant!

  45. ian
    July 29, 2014

    Ukraine government send out military draft papers to it”s people. The people rip&burn papers up. Describe their government as rats in a sinking ship. Military troops still deserting. Ukraine people taking back control of their country by refusing to take orders,could be coming to a place near you

  46. Jon Hall
    July 29, 2014

    “If cyclists wish to use the roads, then cyclists need to observe the rules of the road”.

    Bad news for drivers, that, given that 80% admit to speeding regularly. Still, it’ll be nice and quiet.

  47. Alte Fritz
    July 29, 2014

    Many more people live in or near city centres now and many of them cycle. They are as entitled to as much protection as anyone else so where conditions permit, they should have cycle lanes (which are properly maintained and are neither pitted with holes nor cluttered with dangerous rubbish.

    As a leisure cyclist, I find poor road maintenance all a lot more close and personal than when driving a relatively chunky vehicle. Proportionately as many cyclists will pay their taxes as car users, so they (we) have a legitimate expectation that one can cycle safely in heavy conditions. There is a big constituency to reach out to.

    Incidentally, most drivers are pretty considerate.

  48. Iain Gill
    July 29, 2014

    election on the way? Cameron talking about immigration? gottta laugh immigration completely out of control, uncapped unrestricted ICT work visa entrants everywhere and the politicians talk tough as if we believe them anymore…

  49. alex
    July 29, 2014

    Its great to see cycling being raised as an issue and I think you should be commended on recognising this as an issue. I am a driver and sometimes cyclist so can see both sides of the story. I have seen a massive increase in the number of cyclists on the roads and this brings with it both advantages and disadvantages. As with drivers, there are both good and bad, polite and rude cyclists and it is important to realise that when looking at the issues. I feel that overall encouraging good considerate cycling is important, whilst cracking down hard on rule breakers and trouble makers (for instance those going through red lights). I feel that encouraging more people to cy le can only be good for traffic congestion reduction / health / the environment etc. I think the only way to really get people out on their bikes is to have a connected system of good segregated cycle paths that people of all abilities feel safe to use (the cycle ways in lower Earley are a good example of this). I think with a good safe cycle network in place people would quickly adapt to using their bikes for shorter journeys freeing up the road for the cars and avoiding the conflict that often occurs when the two are forced together in unsatisfactory conditions.

  50. Peter
    July 29, 2014

    Please could you ask the contractors working on the A321 bridge over the A329(M) to remove their ‘Cyclists dismount and use the footway’ signs? This is not correct use of such signs according to the Department of Transport manual.

    Treating cyclists as second-class road users in this way encourages them to ignore other rules.

  51. Tad Davison
    July 29, 2014

    The local MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, wishes to change the law so that in the event of a collision between a motor vehicle and a cyclist, there is a presumption of guilt upon the motorist regardless of who was actually to blame. I mentioned this on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and the presenter’s response was, ‘……….and these people walk amongst us’.

    This is the type of crackpot thinking we have at Westminster. The same people who constantly tell us what a great thing the EU is.

    Cambridge has more cyclists than most other places, and they are pretty well catered for with more cycle ways proposed at the rate-payer’s expense. I am not against responsible cyclists at all, but when there are perfectly good cycle ways literally just the other side of the kerb stone, but cyclists refuse to use them and cycle on the road, simply because they can, and it is their right, I can’t feel much sympathy with them when one of them gets knocked off.

    But it isn’t just Cambridge. The disease of errant cyclists is all-pervasive. In late May, I was invited to the Oxford Union for the recording of an episode in Al Jazeera’s ‘Head to Head’ series. The street outside is quite narrow. A long-wheelbase van that had just made a delivery couldn’t reverse back up the street, so the driver did a very tricky seven or eight-point turn so he could face the right way. Whilst reversing, a cyclist deliberately tried to go between the van and a wall, even though there was just a few inches to spare, and the van was still reversing backwards. It turned out that the cyclist was a student at the university, and if that doesn’t have its own commentary, I don’t know what does!

    Tad Davison


  52. Simon George
    July 29, 2014

    We need to encourage more drivers to cycle as this reduces traffic congestion and the problems of noise, pollution, and death and injury on our roads. It would also reduce the huge costs to the NHS from the obesity epidemic that over-reliance on the motor vehicle is partly responsible for. This has been done in the Netherlands using segregated infrastructure which would remove the fear that stops a huge number of people from using a bicycle on our roads. The government spends £444 per head on our roads but only £2 of that goes on cycle infrastructure. Cyclists and pedestrians need to be prioritised ahead of drivers and that means taking space from motorists and making it available for cyclists to ride safely.

  53. Anonymous
    July 29, 2014

    Metal barriers at street corners could be turned into plastic ones.

    (Lorries turning left and crushing cyclists against them)

    As mentioned earlier. Orange Hi Viz is a lot safer than the insipid yellow/green that cyclists tend to us.

    1. Anonymous
      July 30, 2014

      Before anyone says “Well they wouldn’t be crash barriers if they were plastic !”

      The metal barriers already crush and they are there for demarcation rather than protection.

  54. They Work for Us
    July 29, 2014

    As an oldie I am astonished about the view of road tax/ the road fund licence now weaselly wordedly described as Vehicle Excise Duty.

    The excuse for its introduction WAS to pay for roads – which it did handsomely – as was the tax on fuel. The money in the “road fund” was too attractive to the rapacious Treasury to be left alone, but was stolen and put into general funds. All motorists pay in handsomely enough money to fund a superb road system – but wait this would mean our tax,waste and spend politicians would have to cut back or justify more taxes on everyone else.
    Should we pay more taxes to use the roads, No! No, No! We have paid too much already and don’t have very much to show for payment. The motorist is being robbed blind already.

  55. Max Dunbar
    July 30, 2014

    Cycling has increased massively in this country as the machines and equipment have been transformed out of all recognition, but awareness of the needs of cyclists has lagged behind because councils are run by people who have either no interest in or misunderstand the dynamics. As younger more aware people replace older (and fatter) councillors then things should improve.
    No mention has been made of motorcycles. There is very little provision made for motorcyclists, particularly parking bays in city centres. They take up far less space than cars but are probably safer to drive in traffic than a bicycle as they can be seen more easily, keep pace with the cars and the riders are usually better protected than cyclists.

  56. Mark
    July 30, 2014

    Ever since the Olympics course was set, we have suffered several annual road cycle races in Surrey that close large sections of road for the race itself all day, marooning those caught inside the “circular” route (and hindering emergency services). However, the roads are inundated with cyclists practising for the events, who tend to assume that the road is there solely for the benefit of their practice sessions. Other counties should be made to share the pain by rotating the location of the races across the whole UK – or better still they should be confined to isolated hilly areas in Scotland and Wales, where their impact on traffic will be far less.

  57. Mark B
    July 30, 2014

    Dear Mr. Redwood MP,

    I have noticed that, once again, you seemed to have not bothered to put up my post on this matter. Now, it maybe down to a technical issue but, if not, could you please explain to me what it was I said that either offended you or, would offend others. Only, if memory serves, I did not put down that, which was much different to others.

    Thank you.

  58. Greg
    July 30, 2014

    Thanks for raising this timely issue John. Now the weather’s fantastic there has never been a better time to cycle.

    I would like to see an advertising budget used to promote cycling and debunk some of the constant myths that are spread by a minority to the detriment of all cyclists e.g. cyclists do not pay tax and are scroungers, cyclists are inconsiderate cycling in the middle of the road, cyclists slow down traffic etc… Education is the key to improving things for cyclists. Roads are funded from general taxation, cyclists are taught to regularly cycle in the middle of the road and the average speed of a cyclist through Reading at peak time will be faster than a car. Please help debunk these untruths and it will be easier for cyclists to use the road without harassment.

    I would also like to move away from the tit for tat argument between cycling and motorists regarding offences. Around 2,000 people are killed in cars every year in the UK. Around 400 people a year are killed in crashes in which someone exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for the conditions. Please start enforcing the speed limit first. 80% admit to speeding regularly, so speeding is endemic but has very serious consequences. Given the consequences of anti-social cycling are primarily annoyance or minor injury it’s time to start focussing on where the public can really benefit.

  59. Andy Burns
    July 30, 2014

    There are, sadly, a large number of cyclists who do not obey the rules of the road. I would like to see the law enforced upon them, particular with regard to having lights at night – in winter they’re just outright hazardous – and obeying traffic lights.

    Equally, there are large number of drivers who do not obey the rules of the road too. I would like to see the law enforced upon them, too, particularly with regard to dangerous driving and the use of mobile phones.

    I am a cyclist, pedestrian and driver, so I find the argument of “They don’t pay road tax” vacuous and idiotic – there’s not such thing as road tax (it’s “Vehicle Excise Duty, based on vehicle emissions, and has been so for a long time), I do pay this duty and yet other car drivers (with smaller cars and engines) do not, and by that logic pedestrians should have to pay some sort of ‘walking tax’.

    What would make a big difference to cyclists? Sensibly designed cycle lanes/paths would be a good start. By that, I mean ones
    a) without cars parked in them. Make cycle lanes on roads no-parking, or don’t put in the lane.
    b) that only run for about 10 metres
    c) that stop with a ‘give way’ sign every few feet (There’s a hilarious example of that in Henley)
    d) don’t have furniture in them – fences, road signs, curbed drains, bins, lamp posts and trees all being recent examples.
    e) that are only really being used as a ‘traffic calming measure’ to make the road appear narrower to car drivers, without providing an adequate, sensible cycle path.
    f) that say “Cyclists Dismount”. You wouldn’t drive on a road that said ‘Right, now get out of your car an push it 10 yards, and then you can drive again’. Or, maybe you would, but you’d ignore the sign.

    g) particularly, footpaths are not a good place for cycle paths. My road bike and I mass about 100kg. I can easily do 20mph. Therefore, I have roughly the same kinetic energy as a bullet, and you want to put me onto a footpath with people? Kids and the elderly? (Obviously in these situations I slow down, but it defeats the whole point!) Also, cycle paths along footpaths are particular offenders for obstructions, poor surfaces, and having to stop all the time.

    Obviously, dedicated cycle paths do take up space, and the ideal separation of users will not always be possible, but it must be considered when building new infrastructure – and telling them to get off an be pedestrians for a bit is not adequate.

    Finally, I think there is one item that might please both car drivers and cyclists – how about properly maintained roads? The state of our roads and their potholes risks damage to vehicles, and is potentially lethal to bicycle and motorcycle users. There are roads I won’t ride my road bike on around here, simply because I think ‘road’ is a pretty generous term.

    I’d sooner drive on a normal road without potholes than have someone slap paint on some of the carriageways.

  60. The PrangWizard
    July 30, 2014

    Just thought I’d add a late observation. Saw a cyclist this morning while I was out shopping in my local market town – riding on the narrow pavement one handed, talking on his mobile, then turning into a one-way street the wrong way. Couldn’t care a monkey’s for anyone but himself. And some say we should respect cyclists – count me out.

  61. julian
    July 30, 2014

    Its strange how the health and safety industry is so selective. Going through Gatwick recently we were redirected to another passport queue for “health and safety reasons” – needless to say there was no health and safety issue. However – cycling on roads is unsafe and should be banned. Sorry if that upsets an industry but its true – it is just not safe.

  62. lustra
    July 30, 2014

    We need to encourage more drivers to cycle as this reduces traffic congestion and the problems of noise, pollution, and death and injury on our roads. It would also reduce the huge costs to the NHS from the obesity epidemic that over-reliance on the motor vehicle is partly responsible for. This has been done in the Netherlands using segregated infrastructure which would remove the fear that stops a huge number of people from using a bicycle on our roads. The government spends £444 per head on our roads but only £2 of that goes on cycle infrastructure. Cyclists and pedestrians need to be prioritised ahead of drivers and that means taking space from motorists and making it available for cyclists to ride safely.

  63. JohnB
    July 30, 2014

    Cyclists are the British equivalent of the Indian sacred cow.

    They seem to be allowed to do anything they wish on our roads and pavements with total freedom, breath-taking recklessness and disregard of the highway code.

    At times they are not using their bikes as simply a means of transport or personal recreation, but band together in (sometimes large) groups to carry out an impromptu group sporting activity on the public highway – almost always without advising the police of their intentions.

  64. Bazman
    July 30, 2014

    If you ever ride a bike or a motorbike it is clear who is the main culprit of accidents and that is the car driver. Statistics prove this. “Sorry mate I didn’t see you” Is not an excuse. The bike rider is much more vulnerable and any risks taken is very foolish. However most accidents see caused by car drivers in the main by not not looking and not paying attention to the road distracted by kids, radio computer, phone and looking at the Sat Nav whilst trying to find a lost Malteser under the seat. If you are not looking the biker dressed up as bright as a Christmas tree will not be seen.
    This idea that cyclist should be penalised by paying taxes and insurance is for the birds. What next shoe tax? It comes mainly from pig ignorant car drivers wishing to own the road in their boxes insulated from the rest of the world and also jealousy. You can feel the hate and jealousy rays on a motorbike as you sail past traffic jams and overtake them in slow traffic. Sports cars are for people who cannot ride motorbikes, by the wa,y and you will still not be able to out accelerate my bike in any of them. Yes even that one. I also have a seven seater peole carrier, so don’t put me as a fanatical bike rider.

  65. Stephen Thurgood
    July 30, 2014

    1. Teach tolerance for ALL by ALL.
    2. Promote ‘Cyclist have a right to cycle’ – lets face it most of the road network was first developed for horses, pedestrians and a massive, at the time, cycling community!
    3. Make it plain to ALL that being on the road is a responsibility NOT a right.
    4. Dramically improve awareness with TV campaigns – as the physcial infrastructure will not be improved over night!

    Most drivers drive too much with their subconscious and do not risk assess enough – they do not drive as if they have responsibilities to other. They sit in comfort, surrounded by distractions, we tolerate them doing this (smoking, eating, reading, texting, chastising children), and when challenged by events they react in a simple, instinctive way – ‘I’m bigger than you’, ‘I will not be hurt as much’, ‘Oh, and I’ll apoligise nicely later if necessary’, ‘my brief will make sure I do not discriminate myself and will try their best to divert blame for the sake of the massive car lobby’.

    We need a new way of thinking to counter this instinct – the more powerful in an incident must show they did what was necessary to avoid it. i.e. they take the burden of blame. Cyclist must be treated as a disadvantaged minority and, therefore, gain a protected minority status in law!

    The Dutch cycle because strict liability made everybody drive safely and play nice – and most countries aspire to their model!
    The Netherlands and Denmark have a law of ‘strict liability’ to protect vulnerable road users from more powerful road users. Under this law, in crashes involving vulnerable road users, unless it can be clearly proven that the vulnerable road user was at fault, the more powerful road user is found liable by default. This makes Dutch and Danish drivers more cautious around cyclists and pedestrians and is responsible for their safe roads.

  66. Alan Wheatley
    August 1, 2014

    I had to pass a cycling proficiency test before I was allowed to cycle to school. Thereafter the school put me in for a cycling proficiency test at the advanced level, which I also passed.

    What need is there for cyclist to demonstrate their proficiency these days? Indeed, what incentive is there for them to even try to be proficient?

    And something similar could be said for motor cyclists and car drivers. Although there are tests at an advanced level that both groups can take, and courses to go on to learn what is involved, there is no incentive to bother, other than a personal satisfaction of achievement. There is no benefit from reduced insurance premiums, and no recognition in the courts of a proven level of driving expertise.

  67. The real liberal
    August 1, 2014

    Everywhere and anywhere the solution is always the same. Let the market decide by privatising all roads and pavements. When there is a problem, the question ‘what can the government do about it?” Will always result in a mess and always does at the cost of one group over another, a general rationing of supply and a increase in governmental rent seeking. If cycling is of high marginal utility in a free market it will be rewarded with sufficient space and safety as a result.

    1. Bazman
      August 1, 2014

      Not only toll roads that nobody wants, but toll pavements too. Could be a problem if you refuse to pay to use them.

Comments are closed.