Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Why “Get Britain Cycling” is trending on Twitter...

As you will guess from the title, “Get Britain Cycling” is currently trending on Twitter. In short, this is because it is the name of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group inquiry into how best to promote cycling in this country, and the fact that it is trending on Twitter is amazing. The witnesses being heard today include members of campaigning organisations including the CTC, British Cycling, RoadPeace and the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety.

Cyclists are usually pretty vocal on the future of cycling, and it is a pretty exciting time to be a cyclist. It is hopefully not too far away when it will attain the mass popularity enjoyed in such places as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where cycling is the default mode of transport. In the UK, although cycling is popular, fashionable and (theoretically) encouraged by the government, it still manages to be seen as an outsider activity. The “summer of cycling” has brought cycling to the front page and to properly establish cycling as the main mode of transport in England, the full support of the Government is needed.

The biggest thing holding cycling back is the perception that it is dangerous. A survey my firm undertook with the road safety charity, BRAKE, indicated that a third of commuters would switch to cycling for their commute to work if the route was less dangerous. Also, 46% of those asked would be persuaded to make other local journeys by bike given safer roads. However, the Get Britain Cycling inquiry today heard that the risk of fatal danger for young car drivers is 10 times higher than for young cyclists.

The Government has today announced a £62 million pound investment in cycling. If the “Get Britain Cycling” inquiry listens to the formidable speakers before them the money should be spent properly: educating drivers how to deal with cyclists; ensuring justice for dangerous drivers; reducing speed limits and teaching the population about the benefits of cycling. I will be eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the inquiry and hoping for a better future for cycling.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Proper Protection for Cyclists

The focus on cycling in the media continues but the police and criminal courts still show little appetite to stand behind cyclists. Last week a driver in Solihull was given three penalty points and a £35 fine after he was found guilty of driving without due care and attention after killing a cyclist. That he received no ban from driving is simply astonishing:

Britain’s attitude to is seen as a right that should not be curtailed or impeded at any cost – even when the cost is the loss of life. Sadly, parallels can be drawn in this regard with America’s attitude to guns. This protectiveness towards driving can approach hysteria and safety measures that restrict drivers are seen as mounting evidence of the ‘war on motorists’.

The motor insurance lobby has managed to taint the victims of injury as fraudsters and they have encouraged the government to reduce the victim's rights through the rushed and poorly thought out Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.  From 1st April 2013 this act will have the effect of putting cyclists in a worse position than they were in before the accident, financially, as up to 25% of their damages will be used to pay their legal fees which had previously been paid by the driver's insurers.

Tomorrow the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) will start taking evidence for an inquiry entitled 'Get Britain Cycling'. I hope that this will draw attention to genuine improvements that can be made to properly protect the rights of cyclists.