Say YES! for Safer Cycling – Say NO! for Sustrans, UK’s National Cycling Charity and Cycling Lobby


In the UK say YES! to Safer Recreational Cycling – Say NO! to Cycling as a Risky Mode of Transport (other than in Central London)


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TIP No.1 – Ask for FAIR PLAY, not more than that. Do not demand an equal right for the cyclist to road space. On some roads cyclists have no rights. Rights to road space are all different, and they often conflict with each other especially on UK’s narrow twisting roads.  Drivers of the emergency services,  drivers of  artic lorries  and delivery vans, drivers of buses or cars – or even, when they come  in some numbers by 2025, driverless autonomous electric vehicles –  all have, with cyclists, competing claims to use the public highway. And responsibilities differ too, not always remembered.

“EQUALITY” is totally the wrong word to use here (and not just here), a slogan, a soundbite, dangerous in raising wrong expectations, in reaching wrong conclusions. The correct words to use here are “FAIR PLAY” for all road users.

“EQUALITY” is not always fair, it does not always respect “DIVERSITY” and it can breed anger and resentment.

TIP No. 2 – Don’t arrogantly assume that what is right for you is right for everyone else, and that they all have – or should have –  the same needs that you have. Most people don’t.

TIP No.3 – Recognise that there are many ways to keep fit and healthy in an urban environment, all safer and healthier than cycling: walking, jogging, morning exercises, in the gym, Pilates, Aerobics, Yoga, athletics, tennis, golf, soccer, rugby, squash, martial arts, tai chi, even wrestling in mud! And if you are worried about obesity a good healthy diet helps too.

TIP No. 4 –  Recognise that everyone can have an unguarded careless moment – the more cyclists there are in towns and cities with narrow, twisting, busy congested roads, the more cycling injuries there will be, and the more cyclists will inhale carcinogenic diesel fumes from buses, lorries, vans and cars.

As I have said in relation to another cock-up – special educational needs – also driven at the time by an over-powerful lobby – the failure is not factoring into planning HUMAN FALLIBILITY. Time and again this is where political theory goes off the rails, especially on the liberal left.

TIP No 5Stop planning cycling lanes in towns and cities you know nothing whatsoever about. This is already undermining a vibrant social, cultural and commercial district in Newcastle, an act of civic vandalism at huge expense and considerable public inconvenience removing valuable car parking spaces to provide a cycle lane for scarcely more than a tiny cluster of  cyclists!

TIP No. 6 – Remember we live in an aging society. Count yourself lucky you don’t suffer from arthritis, yet! Medication and orthopedic surgeons still to come.

TIP No. 7 -If over 40% of people say they don’t cycle because it’s too risky to cycle to school or to work, or think that cycling is stupid for shopping, believe them. Most people in the UK see cycling as a recreation, not a mode of transport.

TIP 8 – Apply your “Vision Zero” for safe cycling to Bristol, “Britain’s First CyclingCity” – where Sustrans is based – and only when you have proved its success there try and apply it elsewhere. You’ve a long way to go. Recorded cycling injuries in Bristol up by 62% since 1994.

TIP No. 9 – Get your priorities right and admit it is better to spend money helping flood victims and improving flood defenses than wasting it putting in cycle lanes for non- existent cyclists.

TIP No. 10 Keep your enthusiasm for cycling for recreational cycling in the countryside, by the seaside with lots of ozone, in town and city park and meadow, and along disused railway lines.

Bye Bye Sustrans! Sorry guys, you are not even saving the planet. By 2025 the next great technological scene change – driver-less, autonomous electric powered vehicles will make a contribution as long as there’s road space for them.

* Sustrans is a national cycling charity in the UK and a political lobby. It has been given millions and millions of pounds to plan road improvements in the UK and local authorities have been given millions and millions of pounds to buy in their services. It has effectively hijacked transport planning in the UK.

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