Cycle safety highlighted again

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I listened with interest to the BBC Breakfast News report this morning and the argument between encouraging an increase in cycling and the problems and inconvenience this can cause to others.

More people are reportedly turning to cycling to save money, be environmentally friendly and to improve their health, but unfortunately many do not feel safe and the concern was that this was the barrier to many more taking up this mode of transport.

The number of people cycling to work has increased by 17% over the last decade according to the Department of Transport.  118 cyclists were killed on the roads last year (2012) an increase of 10% on 2011 and thousands were seriously injured.

The report concentrated on steps being taken in London where specific areas are being set aside for cyclists and the report asked if this is the answer? James Cracknell, Vice chair of Headway (Brain Injury Charity) spoke as the cycling advocate and Sean Corker from the Alliance of British Drivers against.

Cracknell said that cyclists and drivers should take responsibility for their own and others safety but felt that knowing where a cyclist will be on the road, "having a predictability of where a cyclists will be" will help all be safe.  In our ancient cities with limited highway space it is difficult to physically segregate cyclists from other road users.  He said that better training either through compulsory basic training or changes to the driving test could help and increase awareness.

Sean Corker felt that physical separation would not work.  In most cases it is just paint on the road surface.  He was critical of Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) who he felt had "caved in" to the cycling lobby and placed cycle paths on some of the busiest roads in London and that "common sense would have sited them on less busy roads which were more enjoyable to cycle along". Cyclists only represent 2% of mobile transport in London, and Corker felt these steps represented a disproportionate amount of money and road space.

So what's the answer?  What compromise will each lobby be happy with Even if segregation is only painted lines, all road users - drivers and cyclists alike - should respect them.  A safe distance should be given to all and red lights not ignored by cyclists.

Whatever the answer - and I believe it should be compulsory for all cyclists to wear helmets - I think the introduction of legislation to enforce this is long overdue.  Whilst a helmet will not prevent a crash it will provide protection and reduce physical injury.

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