This article was published in 1997, in Newsletter 13.
Like Mr Jestice, I cycle, walk and drive (in that order). Out of respect for the environment I would like to minimise my use of the car.
Mr Jestice writes:
‘I do not want to share [a shared-use cycleway] with motorised transport … because of simple fear engendered by the presence of large metal machines … If I must share space then pedestrians pose significantly less risk … Thus … if a surfaced, marked, signed, and perfect, shared use car and cycle way was provided I would cycle on the path and break the law.’
This seems to me to be no less anti-pedestrian than he feels the CCC is anti-car: as Dave pointed out, we pedestrians do not want cyclists to share our space. Mr Jestice objects, rightly, that the cyclist bears the brunt of the injury in a collision with a car. But the situation is entirely reversed in collisions between a cyclist and a pedestrian. This is especially true if the cyclist is trying to commute, rather than just out on the bummel. Another problem with cycles on pavements (even designated shared-use ones) is that the ‘rules of the road’ are far less clear. It seems to me that neither cyclists nor pedestrians know how to use them.
The point of segregated cycleways is surely that they are not ‘shared-use’: the solid white line (where it does not suddenly disappear) means cars may not cross into them. (We have, of course, had ‘shared-use’ cycleways for years. They are called roads.)
Surely a better approach than breaking the law and compromising pedestrians’ safety (which appears to be Mr Jestice’s) or making shared-use paths and compromising pedestrians’ safety (which too often seems to be the Council’s) is to campaign for clearly marked, and legally enforceable, separate ways for motor vehicles, cycles, and pedestrians. If narrowing the road restricts the cars, maybe this will encourage a switch to other modes of transport, which would be in all our interests, or encourage slower and more careful driving.
In the absence of infinite funds for public transport, the only viable alternative, in a city like Cambridge, is to encourage cycling. For this to succeed, cyclists must feel safe. I am distressed to hear friends confess that they no longer cycle in from Girton because they feel it is now too dangerous. Hence, although I am not anti-car, I would vehemently agitate for creating clearly marked cycleways with priority over cars in all circumstances; especially at places where cyclists feel threatened (the Huntingdon Road-Histon Road junction, for instance, and wherever side roads debouch into a major road).
I agree that cyclists are still in danger from cars intruding on on-road cycleways: the problem of enforcement remains. My impression is that the red mat appearing on parts of some cycleways is a significant aid here, especially at junctions; and I would love to see a controlled experiment. A record of near misses, say, between cycles in the cycle lane and cars entering Huntingdon Road from Thornton Road, before and after the laying of a red mat, would I think be very suitable. We could gather, at comparatively little expense, objective data to help develop an optimal transport policy for all road users.
Douglas de Lacey, Girton.