CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The cycling lobby should not bully the humble walkers

08 October, 2020

• THE Camden Cycling Campaign letter (Measures aim to make bike use safe, September 24) could equally have had as its heading, “Measures result in making walking less safe”.

It was written by five of the leading members of Camden Cycling Campaign, who have had their schemes challenged in the past; resulting in pavement cycling they promoted being stopped (twice at the Prince of Wales Road / Haverstock Hill junction) and traffic islands removed and then returned on Malden Road.

The justification given by this group for advocating these changes is that “cycling is good for the environment”. It is. And so is walking. But if you prioritise cycling interests over those of pedestrians it is like prioritising car drivers over cyclists.

I wonder if these five ever walk and find themselves crossing roads where traffic islands have been removed. Or if they remember what it is like to take a child to school or worry about a child’s unaccompanied walk to school. Or to watch an elderly or disabled person attempting to cross where there is no longer an island.

It’s no good being told that a zebra crossing or a countdown pedestrian light makes it safer for pedestrians. It’s safer than not having them for sure.

But there is no substitute for being able to look right then, if there is nothing coming towards you, walking to the centre and then looking left. Without that ability, many of the more vulnerable members of society simply do not attempt to cross at all.

These schemes are claimed by both the council and Camden Cycling Campaign as “improving safety for cycling and walking”.

They do not. They improve the lot of cyclists at the expense of pedestrians. Pedestrians know this. So do most cyclists, many of whom are disgusted at the selfishness of the hard-core cycle lobby.

This is how the process works. The Camden Cycling Campaign has regular meetings with the relevant department in the council where it puts forward its wishes, such as segregated cycle lanes, which can only be built by removing traffic islands, even some pavement cycling and often stopping motor traffic from turning left or right. The council accepts some of the requests.

A consultation goes out. The CCC circularises its membership asking them to respond favourably to the consultation, even if the site of the so-called “improvement” is miles away. The statistics make it look as if there is a large majority in favour of the scheme.

Pedestrians, unlike cyclists, have no lobby. Walking is not a hobby. It’s a necessity, like breathing. On the other hand, cycling for many is a passion. Fair enough. But they shouldn’t bully the humble walker.

BRIAN BENJAMIN
Queen’s Crescent, NW5

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