With the 6 cyclist deaths on our roads this week, and Wiggin's and Sutton's crashes, a lot of unlikely allies seem to have joined the campaigns for safer infrastructure. Case in point is the Transport editor of the Telegraph: pictured here looking slightly uncomfortable on his bike. In what I found to be a very frustrating read, he starts by attributing the rise of cycle safety up the political agenda to the increase in accidents, not the increase and diversity in people cycling, government's own policies, or effective campaigns.
Then, he claims that 'until now its been reasonable' to advocate more training. for cyclists as a solution. Well, actually, I disagree with that - there's a wealth of evidence that that is not enough, and its been available to planners, politicians and transport editors for a long time. He then turns (implicitly) to a focus on drivers as the problem, and says that the 'think bike' campaign was a failure (wasn't that about motorcyclists?). Then he briefly mentions trixi mirrors and is critical of govt policy. Good!
But the real problem comes when he says (I'm paraphrasing here) 'since we can't share road space, we need segregation'.
Which I think sends all the wrong messages about segregation. We will never have 100% segregation - no one does. What we need is to have cycling integrated into road planning - in the form of segregated cyclepaths, safer junctions etc. It is not an option of whether or not to share roadspace, but HOW we share it. As another quick-off-the-mark comment in the Independent makes clear, we need respect between drivers and cyclists.
Dutch infrastructure is not just about corralling the cyclists off into their own space, and absolving drivers of responsibility for them. Yes, segregated cycle lanes are a joy to cycle and we should have more of them everywhere, and especially on heavy traffic roads, and where we want to encourage cyclists and pedestrians to shop and eat locally. But not every road can be segregated. So we need safer junctions, slower roads, and a range of infrastructure that allows cyclists and cars to use the roads safely together - whether in segregated lanes or not. And where we do have segregated paths they need to be joined up, and connected to each other, as well as to the road networks. We need a redesign of how we use roadspace, and that requires integrating cycles into road planning, not segregating them.