This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 32.

Promoting Safer Cycling

Following on from your article on the above, I would make the following observations, as someone who cycles to work in Cambridge every week day. I have to regretfully concede that, in the city, cyclists behave far worse than car drivers (bus drivers and taxis not included in this observation – they still have much to learn).

1. Be patient, not injured: do not jump red lights

2. Do not ride on city footpaths

3. Do not ride in pedestrian areas

4. Do not cycle at high speed in the city

5. Do not overtake other cyclists in traffic, thus causing the other cyclist to veer towards the kerb and run the risk of collision with wayward pedestrians

6. Do not weave in and out of the traffic: keep to the left

7. Use lights in the dark and at dusk

8. Ride in single file

9. Do not assume automatic priority over cars and pedestrians

10. Just because you have made the effort to get on a bike, do not assume you own the road.

I hardly think cyclists need to be told to ‘cycle assertively’! ‘Cyclists consider others’ would be far more appropriate.

These are the sort of things I see cyclists doing every day and it is therefore little wonder cyclists were banished to Room 101 recently (although Paul Merton [was] apparently unaware of Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s 3rd party insurance).

Jenni Tokens (Ms)

Clare Macrae replies: I certainly was not suggesting that all cyclists are perfect in the article last time. Rather, ‘assertive cycling’ means taking your proper place on the road, and making positive, clear movements. This means cycling in a position where you are visible, have room to escape, and are not encouraging motorists to overtake too closely. This is quite distinct from ‘aggressive cycling’ – and is entirely consistent with the sort of courtesy Jenni describes. However, my point was that there are several facets to cycle safety: cyclist behaviour, driver behaviour, and cycle maintenance, to name but three.

Not my way!

I have enjoyed the excellent articles with route diagrams and photographs which have been published in earlier editions. My admiration goes out to the authors on the distance travelled and dangers tackled on a daily basis but on re-reading the city route described in Newsletter 29 I felt a safer way could have been chosen for a section that I do a lot.

The enjoyment David Green gets from the challenge is stated clearly in the opening and closing paragraphs of the article, but I would do ANYTHING to avoid riding down Mill Road, with its delivery vans half parked on the pavements and East Road with the take-away area and carelessly opened car doors which floored me on one occasion. Incidentally, if you are on East Road, what is ‘impractical’ about the cycle lane which leads past Compass House and takes you on the path and ramp down the underpass? A much safer way of negotiating the Elizabeth Way-Newmarket Road roundabout.

So the suggestion for my section is as follows:

Devonshire Road – turn left into Mill Road. Turn right at the lights and recently made red tarmac and arrowed area into Gwydir Street and down to the end. Through the metal restriction posts – right into Milford Street. Left into Sturton Street to the end and across the mini roundabout in New Street into Occupation Road. Round past the new hostel block and down the ramp into the underpass and up the next ramp to cross Elizabeth Way bridge on the broad shared-use path on the downstream side of the bridge, right into St Andrew’s Road and so to Church Street and High Street, Chesterton.

My aim in trying to survive as a cyclist in Cambridge is to be separated from traffic as much as possible and I have avoided two roundabouts and a major junction.

Colin Stewart ‘Another heel-pedaller’