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Bloody Hell, What is the Point

Discussion in 'Advocacy and Cycling Safety' started by John the Monkey, 14 Mar 2008.

  1. John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    Appeared in my local Paper's letters page this week;

    Considering responding thusly;

    sir,

    As a regular commuter by bicycle (27 mile round trip, most days, most weathers) I read AJ Kaye's letter proposing to fine cyclists who don't use cycle lanes (published in the Crewe Guardian this week) with great interest.

    AJ Kaye may not be aware of it, but cyclists have the right to use any road (other than motorways and some dual carriageways carrying an explicit prohibition on cycling) regardless of the cycling facilities (lanes or paths provided). The current revision of the highway code states that the decision whether to use these facilities or not is dependant upon the cyclist's experience and skill - not the level of investment by the council. This is supported in law, most recently in the case of Daniel Cadden. Given that, I'm unsure whether the proposal could be implemented.

    I also don't see why AJ Kaye finds the presence of cyclists on the road "infuriating". Assuming that he/she writes from the point of view of a motorist, AJ Kaye is surely aware that all that is required is to drive according to rules 204-225 of the highway code, and overtake according to rule 163 once it is safe to do so, incurring a possible delay of a few minutes at most to their journey. (My own experience as a motorist is that the delay generally amounts to a few seconds, and in some cases tens of seconds - I also find that I only end up arriving at the next lights or traffic queue slightly earlier in any case).

    Given that, I'd say that a cyclist injured by a someone unable to wait long enough to pass safely, or driving without due care for other road users has every right to "moan if they got injured by a car or some other transport". On the last point the law and highway code agree too, as everyone using the road has a duty to do so with care and consideration for other road users, regardless of their chosen means of transport.

    If it's the money spent on underused cycle facilities that angers AJ Kaye, I look forward to proposals to fine people not using local libraries and sports centres (for example) provided by the council, an innovative approach to getting value for money from our council tax payments.

    My own experience of cycle lanes and paths is that they vary widely in quality and utility - I use one on Crewe Road frequently, but I don't use it in heavy frost or icy weather because under these conditions some of the surfacing on it is very dangerous. I make use of several in Manchester, but I don't use the potholed nightmare at the start of Parrs Wood Road, the sections in Burnage that contain more parked cars than moving bicycles, or those through Rusholme that are too narrow to cycle in safely.

    I also prefer not to use the sort of on again/off again paths that take the cyclist onto shared use pavement, and then back into traffic, as these are generally less safe than remaining on the road. (Not unreasonably, most drivers are not expecting to look for traffic rejoining the road from the pavement).

    I certainly don't take such decisions lightly, or in a "big headed" or "inconsiderate" manner, and I doubt that other regular cyclists do either. Regardless, at present they are legally our decisions to make.

    Yrs Faithfully, John the Monkey
     
  2. Jaded

    Jaded New Member

    It's a bit long and I'm not sure drivers will read it all.

    The Library analogy is a great bit!
     
  3. OP
    OP
    John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    Hence the thread title :biggrin:

    Stuff like this just depresses me - some **** in a red Audi decided to teach me a lesson last time the path I normally use was icy (this is 6:20am, no other traffic around, and entire empty lane next to us for him to use) by driving alongside 6in from my handlebars, and then cutting in front.

    When we arrive at Crewe station, it turns out the driver is a smartly dressed gent dropping off his family - I mean, what's the point?
     
  4. Lurker

    Lurker Senior Member

    Location:
    London
    Yes, too long. Here's a cut down version - may still be a bit long....

    Dear Sir

    As a regular commuter by bicycle I read AJ Kaye's letter proposing to fine cyclists who don't use cycle lanes (published in the Crewe Guardian this week) with great concern.

    Cyclists have the right to use our roads - other than motorways - regardless of the cycling facilities provided, much of which seems for the benefit of motorists rather than cyclists.

    AJ Kaye is surely aware that all that is required is to drive according to rules 204-225 of the highway code, and overtake according to rule 163 once it is safe to do so. In my experience, any delay generally only results in a few seconds' delay in arriving at the next traffic queue.

    As the Highway Code emphasises, everyone using the road has a duty to do so with care and consideration for other road users, regardless of their chosen means of transport.

    I look forward to proposals to fine people not using local libraries and sports centres (for example) provided by the council, an innovative approach to getting value for money from our council tax payments.

    The Highway Code also makes clear that cyclists should use cycle 'facilities' with discretion. The website 'cycle facility of the month' highlights why this is neither 'big headed' nor 'inconsiderate' to other road users, and can be viewed at www.warringtoncyclecampaign.co.uk/facility-of-the-month


    Yrs Faithfully, John the Monkey
     
  5. OP
    OP
    John the Monkey

    John the Monkey Frivolous Cyclist

    Location:
    Crewe
    Thanks Lurker - your revision reads a lot better than my original. I was trying to get across that there are good reasons for not using an apparently ok facility (weather conditions, surfacing etc) - I'm struggling to do that and make the other points concisely.
     
  6. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    I think that the point would be much better put across if you can get rid of the antagonistic, confrontational tone.

    Maybe start by agreeing that most cyclists should use the lanes but as you have found out the hard way they are so often badly designed, poorly maintained etc. you end up putting yourself in more danger and are frequently inconvenienced, punctures, junctions blah blah, etc. ....
     
  7. Jaded

    Jaded New Member

    If you ride at 18mph or more you are advised to ride on the road anyway by the DfT.
     
  8. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    I'll second that :biggrin:

    I can sympathise to a certain extent with the views of the complainant. A polite, brief and constructive response mentioning the shortcomings of many cycle facilities would help educate the general public as well as Mr Kaye.
     
  9. Pete

    Pete Guest

    We all know that the major failing of cycle lanes is poor design and planning - by those whose main priority is fulfilling targets rather than creating a safe and workable environment for cyclists...

    And of course there is the motorists' agenda for cycle facilities - as a quick and convenient means of getting those 'inconvenient' cyclists 'out of the way'.:biggrin:

    How about this for an idea? The next time a major motorway, by-pass, traffic interchange, etc. etc. is built, let the entire design and planning be done by cyclists who have never driven a motor vehicle...:smile:

    The one comment I would make on the suggested responses is: leave out the bit about your 'right to use the road' however correct and commendable it may be. I've learnt the hard way that standing on your rights, however good your case, is the surest way of making your listeners' eyes glaze over...
     
  10. Hilldodger

    Hilldodger Über Member

    Location:
    sunny Leicester
    Just ignore it - it has only been published in order to cause a reaction and sell more papers. The more you respond the more they will publish - that is the reason for letters pages.

    You can't win so save your time and effort.
     
  11. CotterPin

    CotterPin Senior Member

    Location:
    London
    I know what you mean but personally I think it is always better to respond if possible. Even better, as I guess you would know better than me, is to get your own postive stories about cycling into the press. At least then it is your agenda.
     
  12. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London

    I like it, that's excellent! I might borrow that sometime for an article, hope that's OK with you!
     
  13. theclaud

    theclaud It's teeceegawnmaaaad

    Location:
    Swansea
    Are you serious, Dom? It's a polite letter - moderate in tone, factually correct and suitably assertive. It was Kaye's letter that was antagonistic and confrontational. You don't get anywhere by making obsequious concessions to people whose aim is to walk over you and your rights.

    Hope you sent it, JTM (in Lurker's neatly abridged form of course).
     
  14. Cycling Naturalist

    Cycling Naturalist Legendary Member

    Location:
    Llangollen
    I'm a firm believer in writing short (because you've got an excellent chance of publication then) courteous, and informed letters in rebuttal. Someone was whinging in the Daily Post (the North Wales morning paper) about cyclists not using cycle paths. I pointed out that if you use the one out of Chirk, where I work, and freewheel down the hill, then the bumps will throw you off onto the metal barrier. I simply said that it was poorly designed and potentially lethal.

    It's always best to state your credentials and show that you know the situation and the details. Make sure that you set out the argument that you are knocking down, because most readers will have forgotten the original letter.
     
  15. simoncc

    simoncc New Member

    The CTC successfully fought off a government attempt to compel cyclists to use cycle lanes where they are provided. That alone makes the subs worthwhile.

    Many current cycle lanes near me are so poorly thought out that use of them actually goes against advice in the current highway code. For example rule 64 says 'Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles'. For some reason, on a cycle lane near me, the council has chosen to leave the kerbside free for parked cars and marked a cycle lane exactly one car width out into the road, so using that cycle lane would mean cycling in exactly the area liable to obstruction by opening car doors, so ignoring rule 64.