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We must enable the majority of people to travel safely by bike

07 May, 2021

‘Let us stop referring people who choose cycling as a mode of travel as a ‘cycling lobby’ and consider each other’s needs’

• IN response to Brian Benjamin (Have your say in the cycle lane consultation, April 29), we are in agreement that most people now think cycling is greatly to be encouraged.

I’d go further and say we must enable the majority of people to travel safely by bike and this requires a connected network of safe cycling routes.

In the Netherlands 50 per cent of children travel to school by bike and most are able to do so unaccompanied from age eight upwards, so why not here?

Mr Benjamin notes the existence of a Commonplace survey on the success of the Prince of Wales Road eastbound cycle lane, which is an essential part of Camden’s emerging network of safe cycling routes.

He mentions the survey asks whether the lane has made it safer for children to walk, cycle and scoot.

Let us stop referring people who choose cycling as a mode of travel as a “cycling lobby” and consider each other’s needs.

That certainly includes pedestrians, as it always has, but it also includes people of all ages who travel by bike, some of whom may choose to use the new lane to get to school.

He suggests the existence of segregated cycle lanes makes it inherently less safe to cross the road.

But pedestrians crossing any road have to look out for all moving vehicles, whether or not cycles are in a segregated lane as they now are on Prince of Wales Road.

Without segregation, cyclists would still be there, travelling alongside motor vehicles in a wider carriageway; or does Mr Benjamin expect people not to bother to cycle in the absence of a separate lane?

It is well established that drivers’ speeds increase with wider lanes so without a segregated cycle lane motor vehicles would undoubtedly travel faster and motorcycles would be free to weave from side to side and to undertake at speed.

Motor vehicles, including motorcycles, overwhelmingly present the greater danger to pedestrians. This is due in part to their higher speeds.

More importantly it’s due to simple physics. The force of impact in collisions is directly proportional to the mass of the colliding bodies, and the weight of an average car is about 20 times that of a cycle and its rider.

Mr Benjamin mentions that there are two bus stops on this lane that have had to be constructed according to a shared space design to avoid any reduction in pavement space.

These shared space stops are used because without them cyclists, including children, would be left with no safe way to pass a bus at the stop.

The design has been subject to continual review and improvement, for example with the introduction of mini zebra markings to establish pedestrians’ priority when mounting or alighting.

Results to date are very good with no record of collisions between cycles and passengers.



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