Regular readers of the blog (!) will know that I am not News International’s greatest fan. However, The Times’ campaign for safer cycling investments in the UK, Cities Fit for Cycling, is one I fully welcome.
In my young days, being hit twice myself by lorries while cycling (Ardwick and Hendon) and knowing people who have died while cycling, this is very real to me. The injuries a year ago to their journalist, Mary Bowers, is a stark reminder of the dangers involved.
We do not have to rehearse all the arguments here – the all-party report published by Parliament today covers all the bases.
My contribution to the debate is to ask the Highways Agency what plans they have to make cycling in the UK as safe and as commonplace as in places such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen? They have the money. We saw the massive enlargement of the M60 between junctions 6 and 8, which is now surely a wider road than are some suburbs in Luxembourg. And more money is set to flow soon on the M60 further west.
Improving cycling infrastructure will always be gradual, a process of joining the dots so that individual improvements grow into a network. London Underground have taken this process to adapting their stations for access by disabled people. It has been going some years now and the fruit is ripening.
Of course, local authorities have a role on so-called minor roads as well as the Highways Agency for the major routes. A start would be to politically and financially interconnect LAs with the HA as much as the roads they invest in are interconnected.
One of the times I was hit by a lorry, I went forwards, and my bike went backwards under the lorry. It was a straight road, early morning, dry, not near a junction. The driver had a child in the cab. He jumped down and said to me, “you are lucky I have air brakes”.
We need a better policy than luck.