Derek Halden, presenting on behalf of Road Share (a campaign rather than a charity – at least under that name) gave a fairly factual explanation of what PL is, what it isn’t, and how it would help victims like a 13 year old Scottish girl who had to wait 10 years for a claim of compensation to be settled. But for one thing. Something that acted like a magician’s misdirection or one of Lynton Crosby’s dead cats. The suggestion that introducing PL reduces casualties.
As I recall, my twitter timeline erupted into a polarised slanging match. Nobody was thinking about victims – people ‘encouraged’ by the authorities and various cycling orgs to get on their bikes in a transport system that’s stacked against them when it goes wrong – because they’d moved on to a cerebral pissing match about what works best in the absence of any hard evidence to prove or disprove where PL ranks.
Based on that my conclusion is this: DON’T DO IT.
No matter how much you qualify the statement by pointing out that it’s a correlation rather than a proven cause, don’t suggest that simply by introducing a legal framework to look after victims it will prevent them becoming victims in the first place. Regardless of how good safety stats are in some of the places where PL operates, there are still people there being knocked off their bikes or their feet. They are the people who need presumed liability and would suffer most if it didn’t exist. Don’t lose sight of who it actually benefits.
And that was despite a slide devoted to how PL is misrepresented and misunderstood(!) and which had the best piece of advice I’ve seen for some time…
“Systems thinking needed.”
More on that to come [insert link here].
Keep Right! Does Copenhagen’s success as a cycling city derive from the rigorous application of this simple rule?
That, until I missed the deadline for abstracts, was the title of my submission to this year’s Cycling and Society Symposium. So waste not want not, longer than an abstract but far from finalised, here’s where I currently am post-processing a three day study tour in and around Copenhagen.
I stayed in the fabled City of Cyclists for four nights in an apartment in a harbourside development in Christianshavn. Every morning I got up early and entered the flow of bike traffic circulating around the city’s central streets, copying what everyone else did, getting a feel for how it ‘works’ there, until it was time to follow my GPS back to that day’s meeting point and join the rest of the group. This train of thought is largely concerned with cycling on the busy stuff.
You quickly learn to keep right on a busy bike track as a newbie from a lefty-land, and that’s where you’ll find the kindergarten kids cycling to school on their own bikes, with either a parent giving a helping hand alongside or shadowing directly behind. Once you’re amongst the crowd on the correct side of the street, ‘keep right!’ isn’t something you need to give any conscious thought to – you have the visual indicators of the pavement on one side and the road on the other. Pavement slow and objectively safe, road fast and subjectively scary, and within the bike track itself an effective gradient of increasing speed running out from the pavement towards the road. I don’t think the kids or I were putting any mental effort into trying to remember our right from our left – we were just instinctively staying out of the way by keeping to the edge. Continue reading
As part of the team working towards an inclusive cycling policy for London I gave a short presentation to the LCC Policy Forum this week. You’ll find the draft doc along with the other excellent presentations here.
This is what I remembered/meant/forgot to say.
Is there a connection between narrow, filtered permeability and the kind of imagery regularly used to represent cycling?
I’ve been looking for this since I saw it at the London Metropolitan Archives last year and some kind soul uploaded it to Youtube yesterday. It’s from 1984, 30 years ago…
Bikes. Transport. Research. England. For the details check out the BBC report.
That’s bikes and transport. Not bikes and sport, or bikes and leisure, or bikes and recreation, or bikes and charity rides, but bikes with a place, and a space, in the transport network.
Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine sailing around Five Ways Roundabout in Witney, or anywhere else you might be trying to ride a bike, without having to mix with the cars, vans, busses, and lorries that are focussed on every other vehicle rather than you. Feeling relaxed? You can open them now.
What’s significant about this is that someone, somewhere, is taking responsibility for the safety of people on bikes. And it’s not just about bikes. Someone, somewhere, is also thinking about taking the stress out of driving around people on bikes.
Which is marvellous, because people can get on with riding their bikes without worrying about how dangerous it might be, or leave the house without worrying about crushing a loved one.
I wonder who’s responsible for the safety of people using bikes in Witney? They must be thrilled too.
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
The modern era of the bike
Continues on apace
Like the circles that you find
Riding rings around your mind