Yesterday afternoon I received word from LCC of a flash protest that they were organising at Bow Roundabout last night after the fourth cycling death in 8 days in London. I picked up CS2 on Whitechapel High Road and headed east to Bow Roundabout. It was rush hour at the time, around 6 p.m. and traffic was heavy as it always is.
It was not my first time at all on CS2, but it was my first trip to the Bow Roundabout.
I wanted to write about the so-called 'Vigilante Cycle Gang' as reported with such revolting bias in a local rag. As regular viewers of my videos may know I often have problems with the bus gate crossing Belgrave Middleway in Birmingham, which is of dangerous design, where traffic restrictions are unenforced and is effectively lawless.
The signs clearly show the crossing to be for buses and cycles only but this doesn't stop a significant minority of motorists from passing illegally, using it as a rat run to the Moseley and Pershore Roads. Right turns are banned from all arms of the junction yet frequently ignored by drivers, putting pedestrians and cyclists at extra risk.
You may have come across the current RoadPeace campaign "Crash not Accident". The premise being that:
Crash Not Accident is a campaign for more neutral,
constructive terminology when referring to collisions on the roads.
"We understand that many collisions occur without
intent. But we object to the use of ‘accident’ as the standard term for all
collisions, including those where the driver is convicted of causing the death,
manslaughter, or even murder."
On the whole, I support this campaign about the language
used when referring to collisions and the connotations that come from the word
"accident". The word accident itself is not a legal word but in
practice it’s often intended to refer to any situation when the actions of a
person were not deliberate.
On Sunday, a collection of Birmingham's cyclists got together for a flashride to raise the profile of cycling in the UK outside of the capital.
It was great fun and a really great mix of people and bikes. From cyclists in full MAMIL regalia on carbon fibre hi-spec road bikes, to single speed bikes, recumbents, trikes, trailers, kids on bikes, kids in carry
chairs and on trailers, mountain bikes and Pashley’s with baskets etc.
Whatever our style or the type of bike we rode, we all had
something in common, a desire to highlight the need for better cycling
infrastructure in Birmingham.
Following a landmark report on the future of cycling in Britain by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) that is calling for 10% of all journeys in Britain to be by bike by 2025, the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) have organised a "space for cycling" protest ride to coincide with the Parliamentary debate on the APPCG report.
Ahead of what is being called the most important Parliamentary debate on Cycling EVER, cycling solicitor Tim Beasley from our Birmingham office will be attending a Flashride this Sunday morning in Birmingham.
Scheduled to start at 9:45am, from Victoria Square, cyclists will embark on a short ride around Birmingham to raise the profile of cycling in the UK outside of the capital. The BBC will be covering the event which calls upon the people of Birmingham to show their support for a greener more pleasant country where people of all ages are safe to cycle around without the risk of tragedy.
Come along and show your support!
Further details on facebook here.
Don't forget to like Levenes Cycle whilst you're on facebook! Find us here.
Birmingham’s inner city tunnels (St Chad’s and Queensway) are closed for maintenance between 19th July and 2nd September. Any time the tunnels get blocked such as when a car brakes down on the inner ring road, traffic in and around the centre of Birmingham comes to a complete standstill. Motorized traffic that is, because even though commuting by bike in Birmingham can be challenging, one thing is sure – when Birmingham City Centre grinds to a halt, cycling is a lot quicker.
In anticipation of the closures Centro have funded an initiative to encourage more people to take to 2 wheels and beat the jams. They have organised a series of led rides – dubbed “Bike Trains” starting at 7.45 from various locations around the city. The aim is to find quiet routes that novice cyclists might try as an alternative to the scarier routes into the city such as Walsall Road/Birchfield Road.
On Wednesday 10th July I joined the Perry Barr to Birmingham bike train. (Video of the train at the bottom of this article) The attendance was a little disappointing. There were 2 punters (me included) and two ride leaders who met up at the College Road entrance to Alexander stadium. The first thing we did was sign a waiver and then dismount and cross Walsall Road on foot. It was over a minute that we stood at the pedestrian crossing waiting for the lights to change. It took a total of 3 minutes to cross both carriageways. Then we walked to the junction with Perry Avenue. It was 3 minutes 30 seconds into the “ride” before I was actually riding. Then we were on our way turning left into Perry Avenue and right into Glendower Road. My criticism of the train is that you have to take these detours, it’s not a criticism of the ride leaders themselves who were only doing their job.
Before too long we were stopping again to use a pedestrian crossing to cross back on to the Walsall Road by the One Stop shopping centre. We then rode away from the city because the quiet route - which the ride leader said more than once - is the “recommended” route - takes a wide detour of the interchange at the Birmingham City University/One Stop Shopping Centre. There was one more dismounting - to get across the middle ring road at New John Street before we picked our way through Newtown. The train continued with just 3 riders towards it’s final terminus at Victoria Square as I peeled off to head for the office.
I think there is merit in this initiative. The turnout was low but I wonder if more people will cotton on when the tunnels actually close. It was useful to be taken on some quieter roads. However, it took 50% longer to get to work than my normal route. Given my experience in April of cycling in Amsterdam, I cannot help feel that your average Dutch cyclist would have laughed at the whole idea right from the signing of a waiver, to the dismounting and the avoidance of the most direct routes. The truth is, if Birmingham had proper cycling infrastructure you would not need a “bike train” to promote it.
I do think though that the closure of the tunnels is an opportunity. People will be reluctant to abandon their cars for as long as they perceive that using the car is convenient. If the roads are snarled up with traffic perhaps a few people will venture out on their bikes. Let’s hope so.
I enjoyed the ride. It is nice to ride in company and I am going to look for some more routes, that are reasonably direct (with no dismounting) but avoid Walsall Road/Birchfield Road.
Quotes on cyclists from taxi drivers such as, "They all run red lights, no wait, most run red lights... no, actually they all run red lights"
Preceding a segment showing police busting red light jumpers. Fair enough, it is illegal, and immensely frustrating when people do it, but the majority of cyclists do not jump red lights. But the show was happy to run with the assumption that all cyclists jump red lights.
Or the bus driver when asked a leading question about if cyclists slow him down, "yeah, they do slow me down." Really? If every one of these cyclists was in a car, what would that do to traffic then?
The main transport groups were represented, with a camera crew following car drivers, HGV drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers and so on, but the only interview with a cyclist (other than to ask them why they jump red lights) was one that found herself under the wheels of a bus one day. After all the anti-cyclist rhetoric throughout the show, I was pleased and annoyed in equal measure that it's taken the majority of the hour long show, for us to find someone saying, "we all just need to share the road". Coming from a cyclist who has had her legs crushed, it sounded more like a desperate plea than the sensible mantra everyone in London should adhere to.
But anyway, following the only talking head cyclist of the show one of my personal favourite quotes popped up, "Maniacs. They're all maniacs." Mix that in with the typical quote from the HGV driver that we all hear far too often, "They come out of nowhere..." The implication that we bring it all on ourselves just wound me up even more.
With the TfL representative from the show saying we want more cycling to ease congestion, the part about a critical mass really made my blood boil. These critical mass rides are often in response to a death or run of deaths. These are cyclists saying, look TfL, you want us to cycle, we want to cycle, we have the numbers, just give us the space! But when the voice over proclaimed that these thousands of cycle "activists" meet up en-masse purely for the purpose of causing misery to Londoners by forcing the roads come to a standstill. (Like the lady who was trying to drive across central London at night to get to a funeral?! How ironic that this critical mass is to prevent more funerals...) Of course the BBC were only too happy to show people who might be perceived as activists. No offence to those shown on camera, but the man in his recumbent with flags, poles and signs hanging off of it, and the disproportionate amount of facially pierced and dreadlocked cyclists we saw, it does look like these are your stereotypical "activists". It didn't show a true reflection of London's cyclists. We're not activists. We're just normal people who want to get to and from work without getting killed.
I'm sure we've all heard the story this week about the young trainee accountant who knocked a cyclist off his bike, fled the scene and then tweeted about it later. She then came unstuck as it was re-tweeted all around the country and referred to the police. The Daily Mail is always a fantastic source of cretinous comments when it comes to cycling, so here are the "best" of the most ill informed idiotic comments! #bloodycyclists!
Cyclists are a pain and endanger road users. They also put themselves in dangerous positions, sometimes it seems on purpose. Keep them off the roads - Doug, Worldwide, 21/5/2013 16:04 Breaking news! Cyclists injure themselves on purpose!
A recent tragedy which brought the spate into the public eye was when a bike got caught under the wheels of a lorry when the cyclist and driver both turned left in rush hour traffic, killing the cyclist. The mid-thirties cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
There was a staggering 14 cyclists killed in London accidents, last year, with lorries causing over half of all cyclist deaths, despite them making up a small amount of the total traffic.
Levenes Cycle Injury have been long time supporters of the LCC’s Love London, Go Dutch campaign. But what does going Dutch actually mean? A recent family holiday to the Netherlands gave me a chance to find out. I toyed with taking my carbon fibre road bike and decking myself out in full MAMIL regalia, but resisted the temptation and instead opted for a "when in Amsterdam do as the Amsterdammers do" sort of approach. So instead, I hired a cycle for the week.
You may have seen the news on the Dutch style roundabouts that are being trialled at the moment. It's been picked up by a few of the papers and the usual ill informed anti-cycling mentalists have been given an excuse to bash on their faces randomly on their keyboards.
We start with the Evening Standard below, as a prelude to the comments on the Daily Mail article comments further down....
On 16th April, I attended a Birmingham Cycle Forum hosted by the city council to discuss Birmingham Cycle Revolutions. Representatives from Pushbikes and Sustrans were there to lend their input as well.
The meeting was held in order to consult on the council’s application for £20m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund to fund the Birmingham Cycling Revolutions. The application involves submitting plans for how the city will improve cycling infrastructure over 20 years. It’s exciting but also daunting. Birmingham is traditionally motor city having been the home of the car industry; the car is king and has been for years. That’s changing with the price of fuel being so high and the cost of insurance for young drivers pricing out some of the under 25s. There are however more cyclists out there and there is an opportunity to change things for the better.