People are dying in the streets, damaged and maimed locally by a world threatening menace; thousands upon millions of citizens pass each other daily by without even a glance, isolated by steel, glass and radio 2. We have an invention that has gone mad, spiralling out of control, killing people, isolating communities and we love it. As a nation we are joined together in a common love of the Motor Vehicle, our transport bubble, our home from home, to get us from here to there.
There is Bile on the roads, people spitting poison, folk aggrieved that ‘they’ are getting unfair advantages, ‘they’ should be more careful, ‘they’ should not be allowed on the road…they should pay road tax, It’s THEY, THEY, THEY.
I drive a car…a pickup actually, lets make that clear in the first instance, i am one of ‘them’…..i try to use a bike whenever possible (I’m am also one of ‘them’), with the choice of bikes available increasing it is more possible than ever to use a bike for more, school runs, big shopping trips, recycling runs (hi David)..
But it’s very easy to use a car, the ‘world’ likes them, aspires to them, ‘safe’ ‘secure’ and accepted we drive about with music, heat, soft touch dash, navigation devices and a comforting barrier to the outside world. What it’s easy to forget and of course very convenient to gloss over, is that people in cars find it easier to kill things, cyclists, pedestrians, other car drivers, cats!…the driver is normally a survivor of such incidents. People on bicycles tend not to cause as much carnage.
The department of Transport (DOT) Select Committee’s report Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010 states that “Over the last ten years in London there were 54 pedestrians killed on the pavement by motor vehicles, and none by cyclists. 5 pedestrians are injured on footways by cyclists per year, 78 are injured on footways by cars”.
Cyclists are not demons, car drivers are not the devil incarnate, we are all people. It is environment that causes differences and the huge global business of making cars aspirational to everyone and his cow, is to the detriment of mental attitudes and communities as a whole.
The same DOT report also says “‘Safety in numbers’ is a widely recognised phenomenon whereby as cycling increases, the risk of injury per cyclist falls. A 91% increase in cycle use since 2000 in London has been accompanied by a 33% reduction in cycle casualties since the mid-1990s. Similarly Copenhagen has seen a 40% increase in cycling and a 50% decrease in casualties over the last 10 years”.
Portland, a world leader in transport management have shown that increased cycle usage meant that ‘cycle crashes increased only slightly as ridership was increased exponentially. Data analysis shows that operating either a motor vehicle or a bicycle in Portland are both relatively safe ways to travel’. (and that surely is the goal).
The DOT states clearly on page 341 of the document that “In the future, our society will become far more reliant upon those citizens who do shift their mode of transport and will receive considerable benefits from such active travel. Those citizens will not make that shift unless society gives them the respect on the roads that they deserve”.
With a motorised vehicle you can cause more carnage, more upset, with a bicycle you are part of the world, not set apart from it. This imbalance in sensory perception is why cyclists can appear aggressive. As the clip of Ben Porters experience shows, being loud and shouty when riding does not mean that he is aggressive for the sake of it, quite the opposite, he is shouting for his life. (it should be noted that many bike users verge on the intimidated)
Staying alive is a powerful basic instinct, i heightenes the senses, it puts people on bicycles, cyclists in particular at a higher state of awareness. It can make them seem aloof, in the same way a that car driver can seem oblivious. For everyone to stay alive on our streets involves less motor vehicles for local journeys and enabling those car drivers to become pedestrians and bicyclists.
We need to respect each other a little more, we really do need to get out more, on foot, on a bicycle. Then facilities will improve because they will have too, that’s what governments are for (in theory), and over time we can make our streets a lot safer and a pleasant place again, for everyone.
Motor vehicles are dangerous, people driving them cause lots of death and injuries, bicycles are a lot less dangerous…it’s proven. More bicycles and pedestrians make for a nice environment….fact… So car drivers ‘MTFU’ and get real. You have the advantage on the road where staying alive is concerned, stop banging on about ‘they’ and realise it’s just someone NOT in a car.
P.S. saw this blog…seems to fit right in...http://bostonbiker.org/2011/02/01/lets-make-one-thing-clear-i-am-not-slowing-you-down/