I spend a lot of time reading cyclists blogs, well, what I call ordinary cyclists, those that cycle for commuting, nipping to the shops, exploring the country etc,. I don't read the blogs of those that cycle for racing or for what I personally call road running.
So much is discussed about what is needed and what isn't, all contradicting each other, and even our politicians can't agree, and this is why we are getting nowhere fast.
These are the points that I have noticed and my opinions.
1) Drivers need educating - FALSE!
Even the Dutch have never tried to educate drivers. They have simply put obstacles in their way of getting near bikes and totally banned motorists from many roads. In many other roads motorists are guests for when they need to visit someone in a residential street or they share quiet streets with cyclists but the streets are so well marked with "real" cycle lanes that it's perfectly safe to share.
At junctions motorists most times (not always) have to give way to cyclists. At traffic lights cyclists have their own set of lights.
In other words the Dutch drivers are no more careful or polite around motorists than in this country. Cyclists have simply been given as much importance as motorists and motorist have been put in their place.
There is simply no way on earth to educate drivers so it's a waste of time discussing it and it just side tracks away from the real issues.
2) The onus should be put on the motorist to prove a cyclist was in the wrong in any motorist/cyclist accident. - TRUE!
This is only logical. The larger, or to be more exact, the most lethal, object whether it be Lorry/Car - Car/Cyclist - Cyclist/Pedestrian - should be counted at fault unless proven otherwise. Just as the car that hits another car up the backside is always at fault unless proven otherwise.
3) Cyclists have as much right to be on the Road as other vehicles - TRUE
But I should imagine pedestrians thought like that before the creation of pavements. It wasn't many generations ago that apart from large towns and cities there were nothing but dirt tracks where pedestrians shared the roads/tracks with horses and carriages. Pedestrians had a right to be on the road, and hundreds of them per year were being killed. Heck! You should have seen my old home town of Croydon back in my Grandmothers time.
I can only imagine how thrilled they were when pavements came to the country and pedestrians had their own perfectly safe place to walk. I doubt very much then that pedestrians minded loosing their "right" to walk in the road especially when the faster, noisier, and more smelly cars came along.
Then imagine how it must have been for pedestrians to get their own crossings over busy streets. Where they had right of way and vehicles were forced to stop for them after years of dodging the horse and carriage and in then later cars as well.
Now imagine cyclists having their own roads. Roads where vehicles aren't allowed, roads where they aren't going to get a pedestrian jump out in from of them. Imagine as a cyclist having your own right of way across junctions and traffic lights. Where the bicycle can travel faster because there are no obstructions, no cars parked where you are entitled to cycle, no having to avoid a car door suddenly opening in front of you. No being squeezed to the kerb by buses and lorries. In fact no fear of being maimed or death at anytime when on a bike. Imagine your own road with no pot holes and no drains to cycle over,
Tarmac roads were first created for the cyclist. Then the motor car came along and stole them. We have lost the war, a war we could never win, to get our roads back. Therefore it is more sane, and far less exhausting to start fighting for the creation of our own new roads again. This time roads that can't be taken from us by the motor car.
Do you really want to cling to "Having as much right to use the road" when you could have your own roads.
The Dutch way is the only way to go. And it will only happen if we all stop arguing over ridiculous points and all fight for the same thing.
4) Cyclists should have to pass a test - TRUE
But not in the way that many motorists are screaming about.
When the motor car was first invented there was no such thing as a driving test. It wasn't until 1935 when too many people had been killed and more and more cars were on the roads that the first compulsory driving test was introduced. There are still drivers on our roads today that have never passed the test. Anyone that was driving before 1934 was not then and not since ever been forced to take the test.
The vast majority of cyclists have already taken the driving test which means they are qualified anyway to drive or ride on the roads today. It would therefore be ridiculous to compel anyone over a certain age to take a cycling test.
However just as the Dutch do, I very much believe that all children, from infants up, should have road safety training ending with a cycling test at approximately the age of 12 years old.
This should become automatically part of the education curriculum just as it is in the Netherlands.
Whilst the government are trying to get more people on their bikes now, it is more likely, if things are done right, that it will be the future generations that will be the cyclists en mass. It is therefore imperative that cycling and road education starts now. This needs to be put into place, as in The Netherlands, before thousands of people start cycling on a daily basis.
A cycling test isn't important for those cycling now, but it will be important for those now still of school age as more and more take to their bikes in the years to come.
I therefore think that cycling education and the cycling test needs to become compulsory immediately for anyone under the age of 16.
Not only is cycling education and the cycling test important for safety, it is also important that cycling is encouraged. Cycling education will encourage children to not only be confident in riding but also encourage them to know that cycling is a great mode of independent mobility and rely less and less on using the parents as a form of taxi driver. By giving children the responsibility of their own transport it will give them pride and respect for themselves. They are also less likely to want to start learning to drive the moment they turn 17. Many Dutch today don't own cars. Ask them why and they will say, they simply do not need one.
Please see this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16AO0_08r3o
5) We don't need segregated cycling - FALSE!
a) Segregated cycling will take us through longer routes.
b) Segregated cycling will slow us down and make our journeys longer.
c) Our roads aren't wide enough.
d) Everyone cycles slower on segregated cycle routes
All that and more is absolute BS to put it plainly.
I'm not even going to go through all the tosh of those statements. Anyone that makes them either have no idea of what true Dutch style segregated cycling consists of or they are totally self centred and only consider how they (quite wrongly) think segregated cycling will affect them as city commuters, and be damned to the rest of the country and quality of other peoples lives.
They are not looking at the bigger picture of getting less cars on the road. Nor are they looking at the money that the country will save. They are not thinking of a better quality of life their children and their Grandchildren would have. They are still holding on to the belief that they "Have a right to use the road" and they aren't going to give it up for anyone.
All I will say on this matter is check out "A View From the Cycle Path" along with Davids many Youtube videos.
Another page that is extremely interesting is "Comparing British Roads with Dutch Equivalents".
I have seen what the so called London Cycling Highway is, and quite honestly if that's the sort of cycling you want then you are absolutely barmy. But perhaps you don't care if your children or future Grandchildren cycle or not. You probably don't care that they can't cycle to school. You may not worry if Granny or Grandpa did or didn't get on a bike to enhance their lives, and if they did get on a bike you might not worry if they got knocked off. Because just like the motorist, you possibly don't give a thought for anyone else as long as you get from A to B as quickly as possible and anyone that gets in your way is a blasted nuisance. I can't imagine what it must be like to be so blinkered.
For those of us that want to see a better, longer and healthier, life style, a place where our kids will no longer be killed on our streets, and where our elderly enjoy life more to the full, we will continue to fight for Cycling segregation.