Is this tunnel really a disaster?

BicycleDutch - 13 November, 2017 - 23:01
It was opened two years ago, but it is still not completely finished, the tunnel for walking and cycling between Wijbosch and Schijndel, near ʼs-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. The only … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Policing of close passing of cyclists in the UK: update on progress by November 2017

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 13 November, 2017 - 15:04

Some of the 42 delegates

On September 19th the Road Danger Reduction Forum, in partnership with West Midlands Police, held a training day on “Policing close passing of cyclists and related behaviours” courtesy of West Midlands Fire Service in Birmingham. Below is a brief report back on the current situation, a year after RDRF gave a special award to the ground breaking work done by West Midlands Police 

Since that time RDRF has been acting as Secretariat for WMP’s work in this area, collecting and disseminating information to and from Police Services throughout the UK, with an information pack sent out to interested forces. There has been a flurry of initiatives during that time, with a variety of operations carried out. A particular new area is the development of 3rd party reporting, which we highlight as it is likely to involve a significant change in traffic policing.
Below is a summary of reports back from Police Services which attended the training day

The Training Day

The following police services asked to come: Avon & Somerset, Cumbria, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, South Wales, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Police Scotland. PS Northern Ireland. Also attending were Leicester University Law Department (who are carrying out research on harm reduction traffic policing); Madison (importers of Cycliq camera lights) and Cycling UK who have distributed mats with passing distances for educational sessions.

A representative of the College of Policing attended. There will now be a specific mention in the curriculum in the roads policing module of close passing, although for close passing policing to be carried out on a national basis there will have to be commitment from the National Police Council after representations from Chief Constables.

Below is what we hope is a reasonable accurate summary of where Police Services (PSs) are as of mid-November 2017. I have added some comments that have appeared in the press. Please note that since PSs are not obliged to inform us of the current situation the reports below may be inaccurate or out of date: this is a rapidly changing scenario. Do contact me about inaccuracies!

Avon & Somerset

They have a Cycling UK mat and had done full close pass operations 3 times in Bristol, and also in Bath, Swindon & Cheltenham by mid-September. Lots of publicity success, with 10% engagement on social media – 2.5% is more normal. Local BBC news covered an operation as a main story. They were due to run more operations.

3rd Party: They started automated online reporting of traffic incidents in September, and can use info from this to promote the close passing scheme. Use of 3rd party footage for prosecution is now allowed. Avon and Somerset give cameras to officers who commute by bike.

Illustration on bus courtesy of Avon and Somerset Police and Bath and North East Somerset Council Cambridgeshire

The casualty reduction officer was widely quoted in October as saying: “For Cambridge city where roads are narrower and often very congested we would be potentially forcing motorists to drive at the speed of cyclists when there isn’t the recommended space to overtake.” But he has contacted me to say:
“…despite the content of some media articles, I am currently still liaising with West Midlands and other police colleagues regarding this cycling safety initiative and how it could be adopted within Cambridgeshire. It is unfortunate that the recent report may have left you feeling that we had completely discounted it. I can assure you that this is not the case,… I hope you feel some reassurance that we are still reviewing the matter….” We understand that there is fresh interest in a programme being started.


Close passing work in infancy. Using mat for education only, promoted on social media. Some 3rd party reporting is done; they will try to add close passing to this.


Initial interest has been shown.

Dorset, Devon, Cornwall

Using the mat

They have mats, and had done one close passing operation in each county by mid-September. They have been doing education at events, especially for cyclists, and for refuse truck drivers. They have used social media, generating lots of conversation.  They hope to involve the fire service, and consider 3rd party online report submission. They have written a cycling code of conduct, and run a road respect campaign for all users.


3rd party: They will now be insisting that any footage place on a public or shared YouTube feed will receive no further police action beyond a warning letter. They will have a dedicated website running soon and until then, a dedicated email address exists with a few ‘file transfer’ options to assist the current process.


Working with other local forces. The Cheltenham operation involved 10 officers (5 of them specials), plus a press officer and the press. The high number of officers was just for the first operation, partly to train them. There were two police cyclists and a motorcyclist. The operation was similar to the West Midlands one. No-one was reported for prosecution. There was a range of reactions to education with the mat. They found a visual aid important, the figure of 1.5m less so. One driver was interviewed by the press, and there was also social media reporting.
They use a leaflet prepared by Gloucestershire CC which is included in our information pack.

Leaflet cover

They didn’t have 3rd party incident reporting in mid-September.

Greater Manchester

A number of pilots had been undertaken earlier this year. GMP use a special police officer number to identify 3rd party reports.

Hampshire and Thames Valley

They ran pilot schemes in the Autumn. Their close passing operation was preceded the day before by talking to cyclists about safe cycling, including contrasting colour, hi-vis, and free lights.

By mid-September there had been 6 close passing operations in Hampshire, one of which was filmed (and is well worth watching)  by BBC Inside Out,  and one in Thames Valley. There has also been a back of bus campaign, and leaflets.  They use 3-4 officers plus a council RSO and someone from the fire service for each operation.They had no 3rd party reporting mechanism except for dangerous driving in mid-September, but want to set one up.

They are using VR (virtual reality) goggles for training.

(A report emphasises disproportionate numbers of different road users stopped).


A team was created 12 months ago. Operation “Safe pass” started on 2 July, with 6 operations up to mid-September. Emphasis has been on education and engagement.

They have done around 120 stops in their operations, with 3-5 police plus Road Safety Officers (RSOs) involved. Responses have generally been positive, with no prosecutions. Motorcycles have occasionally been used. They take camera footage with tablets, for instant feedback to drivers.

Not much has been done on social media. They are trying to extend the operation into winter by following existing cyclists to watch for close passes. A poorly trained cyclist seems to get a lot of close passes compared to better trained ones.

The local authority is looking at the “Kaleidoscope” online reporting app, which is being developed. The police will promote it; if successful, it should be usable for prosecutions.
According to @MerseyFire Oct 13 : Merseyside’s Safe Pass initiative stopped 1 driver every 3 mins yesterday highlighting dangers of driving too close to cyclists.#RoadSafety

At launch: Cycling Uk, RDRF with Sgt. Osborne of the Cycle Safety Team

Space for Cyclists’ the Metropolitan Police Close Pass initiative was launched on the 21st July 2017. They posted throughout the event, and for the following week ’Space for Cyclists’ dominated our Twitter account, coining and repeatedly using the hashtags #WeCantBeEverywhereButCouldBeAnywhere and #SpaceForCyclists. At the end of that week they had seen a 5% increase in followers rising to 3363.

Immediately after the launch In 4 days they visited 5 sites across London and stopped a total of 18 cars overall; all of these drivers were spoken to and given the presentation and all of them took the advice well and admitted that they had not been aware that they had passed too close nor of the potential dangers involved. They also engaged with cyclists at the sites. Although the primary importance behind this was not to issue drivers with tickets, two tickets issued for construction and use offences.

The ‘Space for Cyclists’ success was capitalised upon at Ride London: interaction with the public and handed out hundreds of ‘I Give Space for Cyclists’ car stickers which were created to help remove perceived pressure on the driver from cars that might be following them. Despite being a small unit, by using the tactic of having a plain clothed cyclist ideally with motorcycle support means they have been able to access outer London areas where the higher speeds have previously made cycle deployment ineffective which “gives us the appearance of being a larger and more far reaching unit than we really are”.

This scheme was never intended to be short-term operation, but rather it is a tool in their toolbox .

When running an initiative, along with the plain clothed officer on a bicycle, they try to use a:
1. stopping officer (on a motorbike ideally, otherwise plainclothes cyclist moves towards supporting officers)
2. officer to deliver the presentation to the motorist,
3. officer to conduct checks and do the eyesight test
4. officer trained to carry out vehicle examinations.
They have used Community Support Officers on some operations to carry out checks and deliver the presentation and have run it with only 4 people, which they consider to be the minimum. They are also proposing to run some sessions with other partners, Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service.

They do not use a mat to demonstrate a distance of 1.5m as it becomes far too subjective on some London roads where the sometimes narrower roads and slower speeds make it necessary to pass closer than that. They try to reinforce the following message, “There is a lot of traffic in the capital and we all need to share the roads and be mindful of other road users. In its simplest form, it’s about being courteous to one another.”

The initiative is carried out on any road suitable for cycle patrols (i.e. not fast roads) and it is ideal for use in outer London boroughs where regular patrols are less successful due to faster traffic speeds and the inability to follow on a bicycle. Currently, they tend to choose sites in response to suggestions on Twitter and emails. The deployments tend to last for 3 hours during which they may switch to a secondary target site nearby if little work needs to be done. A site where little needs to be done may involve 3 – 4 drivers being stopped, one with more of a problem some 15 – 20. In the first week of November CST were at road works on Waterloo Bridge advising cyclists to “take the lane” (primary position) to deter drivers from overtaking where unsafe to do so.

Once they have been to a site, they take a photograph of the area and post it on Twitter along with where they have been and any particularly good results. This allows followers on Twitter to see that they have been to some of the areas that they have raised as a concern and to highlight that although they may not have seen them, they were there.

They are trying to communicate to the motoring community that they could be tailgating a plain clothed Police cyclist in the hope that it will be enough to make them consider the manner of their driving and whether or not it is safe. They currently do this by Tweeting where they have been and what their results were along with the actual interaction with motorists. The main consideration of concern with this method is that their Twitter account is predominantly followed by cyclists who are already aware of Unsafe following (tailgating), Unsafe overtaking (close passes) and Unsafe turning (left or right turns across the cyclists’ path). This needs to be addressed as the target audience is motorists and Cycle Safety Team are aware that they need to find a way to reach more of them. This is something they are looking to develop, maybe using social media in some form.

MPS have an acceptable reporting system  on their website, but not all reports are acted on, though all add to intelligence.

It is important to stress that this work occurs in tandem with other operations: “Operation Safeway” a high visibility presence at junctions (2 operations in 2nd week November); “Operation Cubo” for no 3rd party insurance (2 operations per month) and “Exchanging places” once a week.
Current example:
@MetCycleCops Nov 13th: Another successful #ClosePass operation on Shepherds Bush Road W6 North Bound. 27 vehicles stopped 9 Close Passes ~ 8 tickets issued for various offences. Time for coffee to warm up @MPSHammFul @LBHF


Operation launched in October . Norfolk and Suffolk had only piloted a single day in each force area, using 3 cyclists (PCSOs), 3 Motorcyclists and members of the local fire station and an RSO from the council. They had only recorded 4 close pass offences in Norfolk and 3 in Suffolk, but in debrief found that would be attributable to running the operation early in the morning and during rush hour, in places where the cyclists were the ones managing to overtake static cars!

They were planning on running 2 more operations in Norfolk in October, on a smaller scale, but in the afternoons in the areas where statistics suggest an increased number of cyclists collisions. They were pleased that the education format taken from colleagues in West Mids worked well and will be the default format. Partner agencies are committed to work with them and continue to deliver the inputs.

3rd party reporting for cyclist videos is not yet established, and both Norfolk and Suffolk have only established their car dash-cam processes in the last 6 months, so waiting to see how that works out before looking to expand to cyclist footage. Should the debrief of the close pass pilots come back as positive from local force management, they may look to build this in to the plan for next year’s operation.

North Yorkshire

Attended the September training day and have used the mat alone mainly in Harrogate.

South Wales (and the rest of Wales)

Wales has 4 mats. There had been no active operations by mid-September due to lack of resources but are likely to try again now. They used mats at the Royal Welsh Show and Police open days, with good results on social media. They have links to the fire service.

Operation Snap: now has a fully functioning web form. Members of the public will be able to complete a questionnaire which will then auto populate a Sec 9 statement and upload their digital footage within about 5-10 minutes. This will then be reviewed and appropriate action taken (NFA, Warning Letter, Conditional Fixed Penalty Offer, Education Course or Court). The offence is processed by the Central ticket office in the same way as a speeding offence is dealt with. They estimate that where an incident of a member of the public attempting to submit footage for investigation would take them in the region of 15 hours to complete, this will be reduced to between 20 and 30 minutes. The web form, statement and footage is stored securely in the cloud and is accessed by the relevant police forces via secure log on. Operation Snap and other 3rd party reporting techniques and behaviours are reported in Local Transport Today 27th October 

South Yorkshire

Attended September training day


There had been a close passing operation by mid-September. They have a mat, but hadn’t used it by mid-September but they were due to. 3rd party reporting infrastructure isn’t ready yet. They want to copy the MPS system.

They would like to use the county’s sustainable transport funding to tackle close passing.
There are complaints from cyclists on social media about alleged inaction. They have made videos, which are popular, and are authorised to use social media. They see social media as essential to get the message @SurreyRoadCops E Rota have been out & about enforcing drivers passing cyclists too close. Ensure you overtake with sufficient safe distance. Oct 26th .

They appear to be very active in correcting driver misconceptions of where cyclists should/should not be on the road, e.g.:
At what point would you have overtaken if they were single file? The zig zags (illegal!) At the junction? Or with the on coming vehicle? 4:57 PM – 6 Nov 2017


They work with Surrey. They have a mat. No close-passing operations by mid-September, though they are likely to do some. The mat has been offered for use at “exchanging places” events.

They have an online reporting mechanism for close passes, with 214 reported since May. Capturing video is a problem, so drivers have been warned, not prosecuted.

30,000 letters sent out overall from this “operation crackdown” . The chief constable is keen on close pass operations due to a recent increase in fatalities. They are talking to the fire authorities.
They have 200,000 Facebook followers, and attend 6 road safety groups. They hoped the September training day meeting will catalyse start of close passing operations in both counties.

West Midlands Another award for PCs Hodson and Hudson, this time from Cycling UK

West Midlands started their ground breaking operation(s) a year ago and are still “market leaders”.
Over the last year:
1. On CLOSE PASSING: about 250 vehicles have been stopped in some 16 deployments – about one every three weeks. In the last 6 months they have been partnered by West Midlands Fire Service, who now do the educational work. This allows the police to carry out operations with four officers (one cyclist, one safety officer generally on a motorcycle, with two stopping officers at the stop site).
2. With 3rd PARTY REPORTING, they have had some 350 – 400 reports. Almost all of these have drivers contacted with educational material, although 3 cases have gone to court and resulted in guilty verdicts under Section 3 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act. Other cases where there has been a refusal to nominate a driver are pursued.
3. They have continued their policing of road danger in their newly named “Road Harm Reduction Team” into:
(a) 20 MPH POLICING. This occurs some 2 -3 times per week and in excess of 500 drivers have been stopped since July 2017.
(b) POLICING CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE. They are about to start policing careless driving with regard to Rule 178 of the Highway Code, namely breaking of rules with regard to Advanced Stop Lines, to reduce “left hooking” incidents.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA: As well as their award winning Twitter account, they have an important blog 
5. West Midlands Fire Service are also training commercial drivers
West Midlands accept most 3rd party reports, and the TP officer decides if prosecution is appropriate.
Here is a typical tweet from November 13th :
@Trafficwmp  Seen some great driving this morning some well considered, well planned excellent overtakes, unfortunately also had 12 dreadful overtakes by drivers who now go away with the necessary change in behaviour to overtake safely in future thanks to @Woodgatefire

West Yorkshire

They went live in May with 6 deployments. Only 6 drivers were stopped, probably because they picked a quiet time when drivers weren’t in a hurry. Accordingly they want to do more analysis before each deployment. They want to try 2-3 hours at peak time. They borrowed the West Midlands leaflet, bought a mat and were given another. They use the second mat at events. They work in partnership with local authorities and the fire service, who have funding to share.
Their leaflet specifically says to leave more space when passing cyclists at higher speeds.
Since the Tour de France visited the county, pelotons of cyclists on narrow roads in pretty areas have been an issue.

They have done neighbourhood policing operations. One team has cyclists. They’ve made a check list for officers to follow. They give Section 59 warnings, which are recorded, so that repeat offenders can be detected. Education is done by local authority staff, but they will talk to the fire service. They want to roll this out throughout the county, and neighbourhood police are willing. They have to brief cyclists in these operations on how close is too close.

They have VR, and have asked students to make videos. There is a Powerpoint briefing for police which includes the Chris Boardman video.


PC Dominic Doyle was Highly Commended by Cycling Scotland for his work on “Operation Close Pass” and supported by Head of Road Policing, Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, saying he had shown “great determination and innovation”. Seven pilot close-passing operations were run in Edinburgh between March and Summer 2017. 111 people were stopped. Social media reports of this got lots of views, and were picked up by broadcasters. They don’t use a mat with marked widths. 6-7 people run each operation: a cyclist, a motorcyclist, a stopper and educators. They “borrow” local officers, and do other enforcement while educators are occupied.

They have run plenty of events. They have 3 mats, and will roll out operations throughout Scotland. They have more road deaths and serious injuries on Tues and Wed, so will target those days.

They have no 3rd party incident reporting yet, though people can call 101.

Edinburgh Police Northern Ireland

They have a ‘see a cyclist’ project, due to “SMIDSY” incidents. They have done pilot close passing operations, and more since. They got plenty of hits on social media for this. They provide camera graphics for cyclists to put on their jackets, and encourage cycling clubs etc. to get involved in social media campaigns.

Their first close pass operation produced 15 stops. Subsequent operations had fewer due to social media publicity, but one driver was stopped 3 times. They have not prosecuted anyone. They find drivers behave better within sight of the police motorcyclist. They like the Cycling Uk mat.



Here are some thoughts on where we are at the moment after the September training day:-
• Policing of close passing and related behaviours needs to be consistent and continuous. Doing very occasional operations to “tick the box” won’t work as the message won’t get out. It is very obvious that the forces making headway in this area have officers who are passionate about this kind of work.
• 3rd party reporting is not only of critical importance but looks like being “the next big thing”. There are big changes involved and there will be a lot of pressure on officers to keep up with the technology.
• A key element is road danger reduction (or “harm reduction”) which , although showing the link between close passing and KSIs, ir based on behaviours that don’t have to result ina collision occurring.
• Close passing policing is a general harm reduction strategy and fits into other harm reduction forms of policing. As such policing of cycling infrastructure and enforcing 20 mph can be associated with it. (Of course close passing policing also picks up a significant number of drivers who have been committing variety of other offences, such as no VED 3rd party insurance etc.)
• There is a need for continuing collection and dissemination of information. RDRF will be continuing this secretariat function and there was general agreement that we should have another training day/update on progress in early 2018.
• While there is a question of resource commitment, some forces – such as Surrey and West Midlands – do a lot of work on Twitter. This not only involves informing people of what has been done, but can act as a source of information of suitable sites to be investigated. I also note that a lot of anti-cycling prejudice gets voiced in response, and am impressed with the calm but forthright putting down of such prejudice (“road tax” etc.) by the forces concerned.

Finally, if as a member of the public you want your local Police Service to initiate this kind of work, do contact your Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dr Robert Davis, Chair RDRF November 13th 2017

Categories: Views

The Barcelona Superblock of Poblenou

BicycleDutch - 6 November, 2017 - 23:00
Where once traffic roared you can now hear the pleasant sound of children laughing and playing. The Superblock of Poblenou is a pilot project to show what the city of … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Traffic Safety Orgs Speak for Themselves - Not the Rest of Us

Copenhagenize - 6 November, 2017 - 12:53
Classic traffic safety organisation narrative. "Stop cycling".

By Stephanie Patterson
With Mikael Colville-Andersen

In the diverse world of traffic planning, advocacy and various movements for liveable cities, there is an odd group of outliers who broadcast conflicting messages. While “traffic safety” organisations seem like a natural part of the gallery and of the narrative, upon closer inspection they exist in a communication vacuum populated exclusively by like-minded organisations. There is little correlation with those organisations who advocate cycling, pedestrianism or safer streets. The traffic safety crowd are in a world unto themselves, with little or no accountability for the campaigns they develop or the messaging they broadcast. They are often allied with insurance companies who clearly take comfort in working with others who embrace scaring the population at large through constructed fear.

In many ways, they are a classic subculture, with strong hints of sect-like behaviour. The English sociologist Roy Wallis argues that a sect is characterized by “epistemological authoritarianism”. According to Wallis, “sects lay a claim to possess unique and privileged access to the truth or salvation and “their committed adherents typically regard all those outside the confines of the collectivity as 'in error'”.

The American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge assert that "sects claim to be an authentic, purged, refurbished version of the faith from which they split". They further assert that sects have, in contrast to churches, a high degree of tension with the surrounding society.

We thought it appropriate to do a little communication meta-analysis of their techniques of the traffic safety subculture.


“If it is going to make any meaningful contribution to the reduction of danger on the roads, our criminal justice system needs to recalibrate away from the prejudice that motoring is innocuous and cycling dangerous and towards controlling the behaviour of those imposing greatest risk.”

Martin Porter - QC, personal injury lawyer and Author of the blog ‘The Cycling Lawyer’ made this statement in relation to a recent manslaughter charge that was issued to a cyclist in London who collided with a pedestrian, resulting in her death.

The final conviction of “wanton and furious” cycling brings up the question of how different road users are treated and perceived. Would someone driving a car receive the same level of punishment? Not likely.

Along with the legal system, traffic safety organisations are integral players in shaping how we view road users all around the world. The first thing we noticed was how all these organisations seem to ignore one of the key messages required to truly make roads safer.

Lower the number of motor vehicles on the road, and slow them down. We call it Ignoring the Bull here at Copenhagenize Design Company.

Anyone who works in traffic planning or advocacy will find the lack of focus on the obvious to be rather bizarre. As it is now, the campaign language and programs promoted by the traffic safety organisations unabashedly victimise the individual (primarily pedestrians and cyclists) rather than speak out about the dangers of motorised vehicles. They also tend to ignore the one most obvious solution to lower road fatalities – a drastic reduction in the number of motorised vehicles on the road.

Even a nine year old can figure it out that this is the only way to go:

However, the traffic safety organisations have settled upon strategies that are as uniform as they are blatant in their support of the status quo. As the following images show, these trends are not limited to countries who have high numbers of road fatalities, but in fact the same rhetoric and messages can be seen globally.

(Left) Road safety Australia, again victimising the individual and making being a pedestrian a dangerous activity. (Centre) Road Safety Campaign in Spain - 1998, a good way to turn people off walking (Right) More Australian victim-blaming without addressing the problem.

The influence of road safety organisations clearly extends to municipalities, inviting them into their echo chamber, from where they point their fingers at the non-motorist population.

Signage in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen sends people on a wild detour and instructs them to cross at the designated crossing, putting motorist convenience above that of pedestrians and cyclists. A local response (right) clarified the municipality’s intentions with the added text: “Frederiksberg loves cars more than you”

Just take a look the recent ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Conference held in Brussels in June 2017. The speaker list only represented the views of the car industry and road safety organisations which support it. Talk about an echo chamber.

Speakers from other disciplines and with different points of view on methods of change, such as experts in user behaviour, strategies about behaviour change, and advocates of increasing alternative transport modes were absent as they always are. A diverse selection of opinions would include people who are not interested in maintaining the car-centric status quo in our cities, so why invite them?

Whilst the organisations’ messages and actions vary based on their country or region of reference, there are common threads which we can see in a number of the road safety organisations campaigns, including:

- Consistent use of the car industry’s favourite phrase, traffic accident, rather than fatality or crash. The rise of the hashtag #crashnotaccident hasn't penetrated the walls of their echo chamber.
- The use of the phrase vulnerable road users without any corresponding reference to dangerous vehicles
- Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous and freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians
- Anti-distraction programs
- Anti-drink driving
- Anti-speed programs

Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay - everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem - or reducing the number of cars.

We don't know how many of you are aware that the United Nations declared the grand Decade of Action on Road Safety in order to tackle traffic deaths. Actually they declared it back in 2011. Have we saved millions of lives together, as they claimed we would? Nah. What has happened since? Lots of expensive campaigns from highly funded NGOs but absolutely no reduction in the number of traffic deaths worldwide.

We analysed the communication narrative used by a number of traffic safety organisations and present some of them here.

FIA Foundation
(Left) Series of graphics by FIA. None of them call for a reduction in the number of cars that kill. (Bottom center) FIA's helmet campaign. (Bottom right) Children with their shiny new FIA helmets. 
(Top center and right) Images from the #staybright campaign insisting that pedestrians and cyclists dress up like clowns

Meet The FIA Foundation (slogan: For the Automobile and Society). They are the advocacy arm of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, who run the Formula 1 races. Their foundation is an international body funded by industry but also supported by heavyweight NGOs, UNICEF, UN Environment, the World Resources Institute and Save the Children. An organisation with this level of funding and recognition behind it should be leading the way in traffic safety, including sending the most effective messages and implementing the best programs to reduce fatalities. But they don't. Their primary focus is on glossy graphics telling everyone to bubble wrap themselves.
Unfortunately there are a number of unsaid things which we believe are key in combating the issue of road fatalities, including:

- Proposing any attitude change to the existing transport norms.
- In car centric cities – saying that we need to change our urban design to de-prioritise motor vehicles and make active transport a viable transport option, not just a recreational activity.
- Warning people about the inherent danger of driving a motor vehicle. Focusing on the fact that cars and cities don't work well together and that your risk of dying and/or killing others is remarkably high. Instead of scaring people away from bikes and walking, focus on inciting fear of driving
- In all seriousness, promoting and mandating motorist helmets, as the Australian government has recommended.
- Programs which restrict car usage or make driving more difficult.
- Campaigns for alternative transport options as the norm
- Campaigning for investment in alternative transport infrastructure

It's a tough sell. These organisations like FIA are clearly not interested in behavioiur change, but rather a continued acceptance of the car-centric status quo.


Global Health Observatory statistics from 2013 showed over 200,000 traffic fatalities occurred in both India and China. Between 30,000-50,000 fatalities occurred in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and USA. Some of the countries with the highest rates of fatalities based on population size were Thailand, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and United Republic of Tanzania – all with fatalities between 15,000 and 25,000. We have taken a more in depth look at a few organisations across; INDIA - one of the countries with highest number of road fatalities, USA - the worst performing developed nation in terms of number of fatalities, and finally DENMARK - a country with low number of fatalities and generally good alternative transport options.

India. The country with the highest number of traffic fatalities of any nation annually.

With a fast growing economy, India has the opportunity to make wise infrastructure investments that improve its cities for its people. Lack of rules, crazy fast driving and cars being seen as indicators of social improvement, are all reasons why the road safety organisations are suggesting modifications to the existing infrastructure rather than addressing a change in attitudes to motor vehicles in India overall.

Due to the lack of diversity within the road safety authorities we see the same rhetoric over and over again. This recent #ipledge campaign wastefully uses highly influential cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to spin the same old narrative. Pledging doesn't save lives.

#ipledge campaign by Aster saferoads based in India

Arrive Safe
This is an NGO who claim to be‘working with road safety to promote sustainable transportation India’ but it does not mention bikes at all in any of its activities and proposals to increase road safety. In its Road Safety Manual it provides instruction to road users including basic rules, how to drive safely and so on across 190 pages of the 200 page manual. The final 10 pages briefly mention the benefits of choosing another transport mode and how to look out for pedestrians, bike and rickshaw riders. Same old, same old.


A particularly gruesome example of the City of Phoenix spreading fear and victimising bike riders in one of their road safety campaigns.

Of all the developed countries in the world, the US is by far the worst performing in terms of road fatalities and injuries. Estimates from the National Safety Council recorded road deaths for 2016 at over 40,000, making it the deadliest year in nearly a decade. A study by Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak found several contributing factors to the US’ high road numbers of road fatalities. These included generally high speeds driven, low seat belt usage rates, high drunk driving rates, however the biggest reason:

Americans drive a lot and far and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

We also know that vulnerable road users are increasingly making up the numbers of the death tolls. Car users’ share of road deaths in America fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% in 2015, while fatalities outside of cars (people on bikes, pedestrians and motorcyclists) rose from a quarter of the total to a third. So what are the road safety organisations doing to address this issue? All this shows is that cars are getting safer for those inside of them - but not at all for those outside. Mandatory external air bags on cars would be wise.

Department of Transport DOT
To be fair, the nationally run road safety authority has as of 2015 implemented the Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Mayor's Challenge which encourage cities to improve streets for all people across seven different criteria. However, the same organisation stumbles by victimising policies such as helmet-first bike riding initiatives, ignoring reducing car usage and the danger of being behind a wheel - even if you are a safe driver.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Motoring organisations love traffic safety organisations for maintaining the status quo and placing focus on the dangers of transporting yourself in anything other than a motor vehicle. The AAA, like others around the world, focuses solely on either increased investment in road infrastructure or improved driver conditions. Research papers such as Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments might have been a bit more valuable if it also took into account modes of transport other than cars and didn't spout off old-fashioned engineering "solutions".

The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association aims to be a leader in traffic safety education strategies. Alas - none of their strategies include choosing another transport mode when possible. Please start by educating people with some basic facts - fewer cars on the road, fewer deaths and injuries.

We’re not saying stop educational programs about safe driving - just give people a rounded education which presents all the facts.


DENMARK - The Danish Road Safety Council

So while we have looked at two countries with particularly abominable road fatality levels, we can also be critical of road safety programs in countries with better track records. Denmark's road safety organisation Rådet for Sikker Trafik (Road "Safety" Council) recently released this video as part of there “use two seconds more” campaign- a fairly violent way to scare cyclists off their bikes. At the same time they continue to promote the wearing of a helmets in Denmark - compounding the message that bike riding is dangerous. Just another example of road safety organisations using the Culture of Fear in favour of the car. Classic.

This organisation uses the same tactics as others in their private club. They have little scientific understanding of bike helmets and, instead, copy/paste info they recieve from like-minded colleagues in Sweden and pass it off as their own. They claim to be against mandatory helmet laws but this recent document would suggest that they are gearing up for helmet laws. Aligning themselves with the likes of an American, Jake Olivier, in order to continue their branding of cycling as dangerous. Broadcasting with all the arrogance they can muster that a "meta-analysis" is conclusive proof only reveals they know little about the science.

This is also an organisation who advocates cutting down roadside trees for "safety" instead of vehemently advocating for lower speed limits. Indeed, they have no mention of the European trend of establishing 30 km/h as a baseline speed in cities on their site. They are, like all the others, totally disconnected from the current trends.

(Left) ("Keep an eye on the side roads" painted on cycle tracks, without any corresponding messaging for motorists on those side roads who are obliged by law to stop. (Center) 2017 campaign urging people to "use two extra seconds" at the intersection so they don’t get killed - instead of campaigning for existing infrastructure designs to keep cyclists safe. (Right) A 2017 helmet promotion campaign aimed at college students, together with an insurance company. Classic tactics.

Three other campaigns in Denmark aimed at dressing pedestrians and cyclists up as clowns with reflective clothing instead of limiting the destruction caused by motorists. 

Campaigns for reflective clothing are also increasing in The Culture of Fear, despite a limited amount of science on the subject. No corresponding campaigns are in place for cars, even though black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents.

All the negative campaigns blaming cyclists and pedestrians for not equipping themselves with body armour and christmas tree lights would be more credible if the same effort was placed on motorists and cars. Traffic safety organisations can improve the message they are sending out to their citizens if they even the playing field and state in no uncertain terms how dangerous cars are in cities and how dangerous they are, generally. The culture of fear needs to be flipped on its head.

The Hiearchy of Hazard Control as applied to urban cycling. Bubble wrap solutions are the last resort.

While of course speed, drug and alcohol consumption, distracted driving, and badly designed roads can worsen the impacts, let’s not dance around the basic facts if cities and nations truly want to achieve Vision Zero. Providing an even distribution of alternative infrastructure options for people is clearly a key factor in making this change, but it also needs to go hand in hand with honest road safety initiatives that don’t misinform, misrepresent, or scare.

In short, as it is now, if these traffic safety organisations are only speaking to themselves, backslapping each other at closed conferences, and arrogantly exaggerating the effect of their tired, last century campaign strategies - as well as being so completely disconnected from the rest of us working to improve city life around the world - do we have to listen to them or give them any credibility?

Probably not. We can wonder, however, why they continue to recieve funding to broadcast flawed messages without any positive results and zero accountability.

Remember your reflective clothing in traffic.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Dynamo lighting on a Dutch bike

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 2 November, 2017 - 12:55

The end of October – and the clocks going back – is the traditional time for ‘road safety campaigns’ to start reminding people to get lights for their bike, or to make sure they’re fitted.

In my view a large part of the problem is that the vast majority of bikes sold in Britain for everyday use – not for sport, or leisure – do not come fitted with lights as standard. Lights are an optional extra that people have to go and out choose for themselves, and then fit to their bikes. It’s hardly surprising that lots of people don’t bother to do this, or that – come the autumn – the (cheap) lights they have bought have disappeared, or have flat batteries, or have stopped working altogether.

So the problem of people cycling around with lights could be fixed at source if bikes that were aimed at ‘commuters’, or for daily transport cycling, actually came with lights fitted as standard.

With that in mind, I’ve made a short (and hopefully not too rambling) video about the dynamo lighting set-up on my Dutch bike, and how convenient it is.

As I say in the video, what’s great about these lights is that I’ve never once had to think about them since I got the bike. They’re a permanent part of it, so I don’t have to worry about taking them on and off. More than that, because they’re powered by a dynamo in the front hub, I don’t even have to worry about charging batteries. The lights will work every time I come to use the bike, guaranteed. The lighting set-up is entirely hassle-free.

When I make this point about ease of use – and it’s usually at this time of year – a consistent objection is that ‘UK cycling consumers’ don’t want lights forced on them. Apparently they all want to buy a bike without lights (which is pretty much the standard option in UK bike shops) and then buy some additional lights (which will almost certainly be battery-powered, given that fitting dynamo lights after purchase is much more arduous, expensive and technical) which they have to fit themselves.

I don’t find this explanation very convincing. While it is true that ‘cycling enthusiasts’ – people interested in cycling already – may want to customise their bike and add things to it after purchase, your average consumer will want something that is convenient, and that just works, without any extra hassle. By analogy, people don’t go to a car dealership and expect to buy cars without headlights, and then having to go and buy lights separately and add them to their cars.

Lighting systems for utility cycling should work in precisely the same way – they should be an integral part of the bike that requires no extra effort on the part of the user. Since I bought my Dutch bike five years ago, I’ve always had lights that worked, without the risk of losing them, or worrying about charging them. The lights just work when the bike moves. It should be this easy for everyone else who steps into a British bike shop and wants a bike for everyday use.

Categories: Views

Home-side bicycle parking

BicycleDutch - 30 October, 2017 - 23:01
“Where do people in the Netherlands park their bicycles at home?” asked one of the participants of the congress in Barcelona* that I visited last week. My answer was visually … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

New road safety campaign calls for greater visibility on the roads

At War With The Motorist - 28 October, 2017 - 18:30

As the nights draw in and the clocks go back, it’s time once again for the perennial road safety campaigns to call for cyclists and pedestrians to take their share of responsibility by making sure that they’re visible.

But today I’m delighted to announce another important new road safety campaign.

Because every day when I look around on our streets it is clear to me that it’s not just cyclists and pedestrians who are failing to do their bit by making themselves visible. There is another group of road users who are all too often failing to do their bit.

That’s right, I’m talking about fluorescent yellow illuminated retroflective plastic ‘keep left’ bollards.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

All of these fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

Both of these fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

These fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

These illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

These illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown …pretty hard to do, this one #madskillz

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) June 9, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

These fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#signtoindicatea #bollarddown down

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) May 23, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.


This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

Stop quoting Tommy Robinson, just reply to him with this gif and he blocks you. Problem solved, he's off your TL 🤷‍♂️

— (@z4chary_) June 19, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

63rd #bollarddown

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) July 7, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

At some point the "road safety" orgs will have to admit that however visible something is, someone will drive into it sooner or later.

— The Alternative DfT (@AlternativeDfT) July 8, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown bit more palladian ruins-ish this time

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) March 20, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown nice bit of ikebora-do as you might say in Japanese. -do as in ド not 道 (hmm, maybe…)

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) March 15, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

‘When I tell you to dump a body in the marsh you dump it in the marsh’ #bollarddown

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) March 7, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown and other road guides. nos. 41 and 42 spotted since July 2015 :-O

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) May 21, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

One of these fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown 4th or 5th time "since records began" for this one.

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) June 17, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

62nd #bollarddown

— Jitensha Wo°OO°oni (@jitensha_oni) July 5, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

Hackney Quietway cycle "infrastructure" just weeks after installation #sharetheroad

— John Galliver (@jguk) July 27, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

#bollarddown again

— Jitensha Oni (@jitensha_oni) September 2, 2015

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

@jitensha_oni sorry it's a bit fuzzy

— Stroppycow (@Stroppycow) November 25, 2015

These fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollards should have made themselves more visible.

♫ All I want for Christmas is a

— Jitensha Oni (@jitensha_oni) December 26, 2015

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

Pretty much a #bollarddown #jauntyangle

— Jitensha Oni (@jitensha_oni) January 11, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

I reckon it needed more hi viz

— benjamin dilzraeli (@adventuresofrob) July 18, 2017

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

♫ they like to move it, move it ♫ #bollarddown

— Jitensha Oni (@jitensha_oni) February 19, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

Saw this last night. Must have been going at quite a speed to get up and over that island.

— Lap (@eatmoretoast) February 8, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

.@TonyHomewood @steinsky this GUY got his angles just perfect!

— Jono Kenyon (@Jono_Kenyon) January 20, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

I want to break free, I want to break freeee! Some kind of lack of situational awareness? @steinsky

— Damiano di Cere (@Dominus_Tempori) February 1, 2016

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard still should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

This fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective bollard should have made itself more visible.

It’s time fluorescent yellow illuminated retroreflective plastic ‘keep left’ bollards took their share of responsibility on the roads and made themselves more visible.

Categories: Views

An open letter to Lord Adonis

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 26 October, 2017 - 23:54

Dear Lord Adonis,

I write regarding your recent comments on social media regarding the cycling infrastructure around Parliament Square.

MORE cyclists on main carriageway now than the segregated cycle route – so what's the point of all that spending on the segregated cycleway?

— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) October 24, 2017

You have asserted that more people are choosing to use the road instead of the cycling infrastructure, and in doing so imply that, as a consequence, there was little point in building that cycling infrastructure in the first place.

I fear that – regardless of the numbers involved – your comments might betray a failure to understand the reasons behind people avoiding that infrastructure, and that in turn could lead you to erroneously dismiss the utility of separating cycling from general traffic at this location, and indeed at other locations across British towns and cities.

Given the importance of your role as Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, I hope you will forgive me if I seek to explain to you why cycling infrastructure of the kind in question remains essential even if some choose not to use it, and also what we can learn from a minority of people failing to use a specific piece of infrastructure as intended.

In the last decade, there have been sixteen KSI (killed or seriously injured) incidents involving people cycling in Parliament Square, and along the section of road running past the Houses of Parliament, alone.

Every single one of those incidents is a personal tragedy that could have been avoided by separating those people from the motor traffic running through the Square.

The new cycling infrastructure achieves this. It greatly increases the safety of people cycling here by removing entirely any interactions with motor traffic. To take just one example, I have seen families with young children cycling through the Square in complete safety; something that would have been totally unthinkable before this infrastructure was built.

I hope you will agree with me that the failure of some people to use this infrastructure should not – in any way – be used as a reason to take those safe conditions away. There is a great deal of point to this infrastructure in safety terms alone, without even considering its importance in enabling cycling as a mode of transport for people unwilling to cycle at present, with all the concomitant (and significant) benefits in terms of public health, congestion mitigation, and pollution reduction.

When it comes to the matter of a minority of people choosing to use the road instead of the cycling infrastructure through the Square, I’m afraid the explanation is rather obvious, so again forgive me if I am telling you something you already know. (I’m prepared to take that risk to ensure that someone in your influential position is fully appraised of the facts).

If one is cycling in an eastbound direction across the Square, there is, unfortunately, a significant amount of delay at each set of traffic lights on the cycleway – typically it will take two or three times as long to negotiate the Square compared to using the road, a delay of several minutes. I don’t think it should be very surprising, therefore, that some people will naturally choose to avoid that delay by using the road instead, especially given that many of these people will have cycled on equivalently hostile roads as part of their daily journey. (As I hope you know, cycling infrastructure in London is far from ubiquitous). These people are not wilfully choosing danger over safety – they have merely chosen to save time.

By analogy, if we see people choosing to dash across a busy road instead of walking several hundred metres out of their way to use a pedestrian crossing, I trust you will agree with me that we shouldn’t respond by questioning whether pedestrian crossings are useful, or whether there is any point building them. No – an appropriate response is to build pedestrian crossings where people actually want to cross, so they aren’t forced to choose between danger, and inconvenience.

In precisely the same way, if you are concerned about the safety of people cycling (and indeed concerned with enabling more people to cycle), an appropriate response to the issue you raise in Parliament Square has to involve increasing the convenience of the cycling infrastructure there, rather than questioning whether it should even exist at all. Nor should we attempt to pass new laws compelling people to use inconvenient walking and cycling infrastructure. If we are serious about enabling these modes, we should be designing environments where convenience and safety directly, and naturally, align, rather than attempting to compensate for poor design with regressive laws.

In this context, I must emphasise that the new cycling infrastructure built by Transport for London in recent years is of a high standard and does, in general, pass this test. Over 90% of users are indeed naturally choosing to use the cycling infrastructure in preference to the road, because it offers them both convenience and safety. I would be interested to see your figures for Parliament Square, not least because it will be a useful way of identifying the degree of inconvenience there.

I will be more than happy to offer any further clarification,

Yours sincerely,


Categories: Views

An elegant bridge for walking and cycling

BicycleDutch - 23 October, 2017 - 23:01
The city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch has an elegant bridge for walking and cycling. It connects the historic city centre to the first expansion outside the mediaeval city. The design goes so … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

“The Times” instructs cyclists to break the rules: what’s going on?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 21 October, 2017 - 15:47

This post may seem a little late, based as it is on an Editorial in The Times from August 25th. Nevertheless, as with other comments arising from the Alliston case (here and here)  its subject tells us some very revealing things about the way road user behaviour is either accepted or stigmatised by the society we live in. Any serious attempts to reduce danger on the road involve a proper conversation about what we should or shouldn’t tolerate in the road environment. So let’s take a look at The Times instruction.

That Editorial

The Editorial is described by the astute commentator Mark Treasure on Twitter as “ludicrous, inflammatory…. Tabloid rubbish of the worst kind.” It had evidence-free assertions “that ‘enthusiastic advocates’ are ‘blind’ to people breaking laws”. We won’t analyse the text itself, except insofar as it clarifies the instruction in the heading:

“Rogue cyclists must learn to respect the rules of the road like everyone else”.

While the instruction is aimed specifically at those who are specified as “rogue” cyclists, a “militant minority” and “certain cyclists” – all of these groups being ill-defined – the implication is that the “rules of the road” apply to all cyclists. Indeed, they not only apply, but must be “respect(ed)”. However, at the same time, this obedience and respect must be like that of and by “everyone else”.

As will be shown below, this is a monumental self-contradiction. The point is to examine what people think “the rules of the road” are, and whether they should or should not, be respected and/or obeyed.

What are “the rules of the road”?

Generally speaking, people refer to the laws as specified in various Acts and Regulations, mainly Road Traffic and Highway Acts. They also refer to the Highway Code  which:

“…applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for every road user. Applies to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders as well as drivers. Many of the rules of the Code are legal requirements and you may be fined, given points on your licence or disqualified if you don’t obey them. In serious cases you could also be sent to prison.”

Although discussion of the law can also refer to civil law, and laws relating to standards of highway and vehicle engineering, the above paragraph is basically what might be meant by “rules of the road”.

There is, of course, the matter that while some rules in the Highway Code have MUST or MUST NOT prescribed due to a specific law, many do not. Let’s take the example of the endangering behaviour of close passing of cyclists, where we have been involved in supporting and promoting the work pioneered by West Midlands Police. Until this pioneering work it was often stated by police that, while there was a clear instruction (Rule 163) in the Highway Code on how to overtake cyclists properly, there was no clear specification in law. Drivers have now been charged successfully under Section 3 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act for obvious infringements of this rule.

So (while it is currently very unlikely that any driver will actually be stopped for overtaking a cyclist too closely) in principle many of the rules could be backed up by law enforcement. I suggest that – at present – is also extremely unlikely.


Who obeys the “rules of the road”?

A feature of work as a transport or road safety practitioner is a glance at regular surveys in the media on rule breaking, normally produced by motor insurance companies or the motoring organisations. We’ll use a sample of some recent ones – I suggest you collect your own from time to time. Let’s start off with the more unambiguous rule infractions, where laws are broken.

1. Speeding.

Breaking this law involves having less time to make correct manoeuvres, and being responsible for more severe crashes when they occur, as kinetic energy dispersed on impact increases as the square of velocity (excuse the language of physics).
The RAC Report on Motoring 2016 reports that:
• The percentage of motorists who admit to speeding on country roads – which are where the majority of fatal accidents occur – has risen from 38% to 48% over the last five years.
• The proportion who say they have broken the speed limit on 20mph roads has risen from 38% in 2011 to 46%.
70% frequently or occasionally break the speed limits on motorways, with 44% claiming to do so on 30mph urban roads.
In other surveys:
63% of the drivers surveyed admitted to speeding. (OCV Ltd. October 2017)                                   .63% of drivers admit to driving at over 35mph in 30mph limits (including 76% of “at-work” drivers). (Direct Line Insurance survey September 2013 & January 2013)                                                  .83% of drivers admit to being regular speeders. (RAC Report on Motoring in 2012)

(I mention this last finding because in the same survey 92% say they are law-abiding.)

Don’t forget that these survey responses are based on what drivers say about themselves – if anything they will tend to minimise the extent of rule and law breaking. National figures are collected by the Department for Transport by automatic counters . You can also often see speed figures gathered and used by your local Highway Authority. On compliance, we see that in 2016:
46% of cars exceeded the speed limit on motorways
8% of cars exceeded the speed limit on national single carriageways
53% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads
81% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 20mph roads
Naturally there are degrees of speeding, and it varies by location and road type and vehicle type. But clearly a large minority, or a majority, of motorists break the law on speed as a matter of course.


2. Mobile phone use.

Mobile phone use while driving, often including hands-free and texting, has been a target for the road safety industry for a while. It is supposed to significantly increase the chances of being in a crash. (There are other forms of electronic device incorporated into new cars which don’t seem to have attracted such attention.) Again using the RAC’s report for 2017, we find that:
• the number of motorists who say they make or receive calls illegally at the wheel is 9.2 million (based on extrapolating from 23% in the survey)
In their 2012 report the RAC found that:
23% of drivers admitted to texting at the wheel (this proportion may have declined since then. Hopefully)
11% drivers admitted to accessing e-mail or social media while driving.
So the majority don’t (claim to) use mobile phones, but a substantial minority does.


3. Miscellaneous unsafe behaviours.

These are ones which most drivers will admit are behaviours which break “the rules of the road”. For example, OSV Ltd.  this year found:
45% said that they ran red traffic lights at roadworks
37% parked on double yellow lines
28% confessed to forgetting to indicate
22% admitted to performing illegal U-Turns
17% reversed onto a main road
10% had driven the wrong way down a one-way street
7% said that they had illegally over- or undertaken someone
One in three (34%) drivers admitted to doing something illegal on the road in the last 14 days, while two out of three (64%) confessed to committing as many as five illegal acts in their vehicle a month.

Direct Line surveys in July 2013, April 2013, March 2012, August 2011, April 2015 (with Brake) found:
35% of drivers admit to continuing to drive when feeling sleepy.
• A group of drivers “failed to see22% of cyclists and 15% of motorcyclists who were “in clear view
53% of drivers admit to driving within two seconds of the vehicle in front on motorways
14% of drivers jump a red light at least twice a month
49% of drivers admit to flouting road laws, of whom “half did so deliberately because they thought they could get away with it, or did not agree with the laws”.

4. Crashing

This is the most obvious indicator of “rules of the road” not having been obeyed. The best way of assessing the number of these is through insurance claims. In 2013  the claims rate was 13.6% – just under 1 in 7 drivers made a claim for damage suffered in a crash which someone – almost always a driver – caused . In 2016  £28.6 million was paid by the insurance industry to motorists for repairing or replacing vehicles and in personal injury claims every day.

The process of claiming depends on the other driver being insured. While I don’t see having 3rd party insurance as an unqualified good (drivers are to some extent insuring themselves against their own errors) it is a legal obligation. A survey last year by Churchill estimated 216,000 cars out of 3.9 million in London were uninsured, with a national estimate of 1 million uninsured. Since claims can’t easily be made against the uninsured (although efforts can be made through the Motor Insurers Bureau ) and some crash damage may be too minor for the effort to be thought worthwhile, the number of crashes is likely to be higher.

The crucial point to remember is that a crash is highly unlikely to result from each infraction of the “rules of the road”. There are likely to be numerous rule infractions before the occurrence of a crash which is due partly or wholly to breaking the rules.


5. Not knowing the rules

OSV Ltd.  this year found:
67% of those questioned admitting that they don’t know all of the Highway Code.
Accident Advice Helpline came in slightly higher with:
Three quarters of drivers do not know the meanings of all the road signs in the Highway Code
Only 25% of drivers look at The Highway Code after passing the test
• This year Leicester University researchers found that more than 17,000 cases (12%) of injury-involving collisions in 2015 involved a hit and run (failing to stop/report) driver. Many defendants found and charged did not know they were legally required to stop. “Interestingly, there seems to be a public perception that motoring offences are not ‘real crimes’, and therefore there is a tendency for drivers to justify their behaviour,” said the lead researcher.
Slater and Gordon in 2015 found that
44% admitted that they were unlikely to pass a theory test if asked to take one now.
55% said that they wouldn’t know how to tell if they were driving on a road with a 30mph limit.

So a lot of drivers don’t actually know the “rules of the road” (which they are supposedly respecting) in the first place.
There is a lot I have not included here. I have left out the more egregious examples, such as driving when visually impaired  or drunk/drugged, although these behaviours are widespread, even if carried out on a minority of driving journeys. I have also not addressed the specific problems of commercial vehicle use. I leave pedestrians disobeying the “rules of the road” until later.

In particular, I have not discussed what happens after collisions involving casualties, and the absence or lenience of punishment for those found responsible. That is a subject which requires a post of its own. Suffice it to say that even when the “rules of the road” are broken to the extent that others are hurt or killed, the breaking of those rules is rarely seen as worthy of punishment of any real severity.

The point I have been making is that drivers do NOT obey the “rules of the road”. Law breaking is carried out as a matter of course by significant minorities, if not a majority, of drivers. If a wider definition of “rules of the road” is used which is based on the Highway Code, that proportion increases. It’s worthwhile reading the Highway Code to see how widespread rule breaking actually is.

To take one simple metric, the average cost of 3rd party private driver insurance in the UK is £440,  which, even allowing for profit and tax, implies that a driver will be expected to be responsible for about 30 times more damage than a typical cyclist (About £15 per annum is the cost of 3rd party insurance to members of organisations like Cycling UK or British Cycling).
So, if we take the instruction literally, if cyclists (rogue or otherwise) are to respect the “rules of the road” like everyone else, they will have to behave far more dangerously to others than they do currently. They will then certainly NOT be respecting or obeying the “rules of the road”.

The Times instruction is therefore an instruction to disrespect the rules of the road.

An Aside: Should pedestrians respect the “rules of the road”?

“Everyone else” may well include pedestrians. Indeed the Highway Code has specific rules  for pedestrians, although walking is not subject to the criminal law as cycling and driving are. If we are going to be focussed on the damage that cyclists can cause through rule infraction, it may be necessary to include the misbehaviour of pedestrians. Anybody who uses two wheels in urban areas can testify to the danger posed to them, even when they are scrupulously adhering to the Highway Code, by careless and inconsiderate walkers.

This message is indeed stressed continually in “road safety” industry publicity. Our view is to oppose the victim-blaming and lack of evidence base for such initiatives.

We are certainly against attempts to bring in “jay-walking” types of law as developed in the USA as part of its surrender to motor domination in the early decades of the 20th century. Such a move would set the two most benign forms of transport against each other at a time when both are threatened by the push for “Autonomous Vehicles”. Nevertheless, as Japan and Germany show, there can be intense social disapproval of rule-breaking walking in otherwise relatively pro-pedestrian societies.

The point is, again, that pedestrians often do NOT “respect the rules of the road”. You can simply read the rules in the Highway Code and check pedestrian traffic. Or, if you’re honest, your own behaviour.

So what’s going on?

I’m not trying to be clever about what The Times instruction says. I am trying to get to grips with what is thought to be the appropriate way to behave in the highway environment. What we see is that rule and law breaking by people with the potential to hurt and kill their fellow citizens is not only endemic, but that it has become so normalised that it is not seen as being “real” rule and law breaking at all. Furthermore, this denial of the reality of rule and law breaking is so uncontested that the heading of a leader in The Times of London, no less, can be formed in a way which is so manifestly self-contradictory.

I don’t think this is just sloppiness, although the casual lack of serious analysis is a key part of the problem. It is revealing of a dominant culture in which typical rule and law breaking is seen as acceptable by most (although not all) of the motoring public because it is normal for them. They may well know that they break the rules, but they don’t feel that they do. Some forms of rule and law breaking will be seen as unacceptable, but only because most drivers don’t engage in them, or at least not most of the time.

Nor is this unwillingness to admit to everyday rule breaking by typical motorists confined to the conservative media: a columnist for The Guardian joined in the chorus of attacks on cyclists saying: “Drivers are rigorously tested and policed, precisely because it’s clear how dangerous cars are.”

We need desperately to explain to such – no doubt otherwise intelligent – people just how false such a statement is. Indeed, how much of an inversion of reality it is. More importantly, we need to ask ourselves how such a person could get things so dramatically wrong.


So how do we engage with the public on this?

Firstly, we can have the kind of discussion of which this article is a part. There needs to be a persistent reminder to drivers that their ordinary behaviour (as assessed, for example, by insurance premium-setting actuaries) poses more – rule-breaking – danger than they think. One way of doing this is by simply pointing out how much they are getting away with it. Take this comment, again from the OSV Ltd. Survey

“Despite all these misdemeanours going on around us, apparently only 7% of drivers have been caught breaking the law. Perhaps this is why so many of them continue to flout the rules (my emphasis) – not knowing the rules is really no excuse.”

Secondly, we can remind them of the activities of the “road safety” industry with regard to their endemic rule and law breaking. While there is a regular stream of finger wagging at the usual suspects of drink-driving, phone use etc., most of the “road safety” industry’s expenditure goes into highway and motor vehicle engineering.

As practitioners and other readers of know only too well, the road environment has been engineered for decades to accommodate rule and law breaking by errant drivers: crash barriers, anti-skid “treatments”, felling of roadside trees, longer sightlines etc. have been installed at the cost of billions. So too has the vehicle environment: anti-burst door locks, seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, Side Impact Protection Systems, collapsible steering wheels etc., etc. We have spent considerable time showing how these measures have not merely colluded with rule and law breaking, but that this accommodation has actually exacerbated bad driving.

But that is not the point here: the point is to explain that drivers see themselves as so dangerous that they need all this “safety” engineering. If they need it, then their rule and law breaking really must be endemic.

These are the themes to be brought out in any discussion of “the rules of the road”. We think they are essential if we are to have a proper discussion about what is acceptable in the highway environment and what needs to be stigmatised, with priority being given to tackling behaviours that endanger others. Pointing out that instructions such as that of The Times are self-contradictory will be a part of that.

Categories: Views

When autumn feels like summer

BicycleDutch - 16 October, 2017 - 23:01
After a wet and cold September, we’ve experienced an incredibly warm mid-October. For this ‘short-post’ week I decided to put my camera right next to a cycle path in ’s-Hertogenbosch … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Arrange a Svajerløb Cargo Bike Race!

Copenhagenize - 15 October, 2017 - 13:23

Last week in Barcelona, the inagural svajerløb cargo bike race was held on a sunny Sunday in the Poble Nou neighbourhood. It was event organised pro bono by Copenhagenize Design Co's office in Barcelona in collaboration with the Rueda International Bicycle Film Festival, where Mikael Colville-Andersen was president of the jury. Mikael and Jordi Gali from Copenhagenize whipped together a not-for-profit race and were thrilled at the turnout - both passionate particpants and curious spectactors. A 400 metre course was set up in the morning and there were particpants enough for 3 heats in the two-wheeled category, four cargo bikes in the three-wheeled and four teams in the team relay. The film, above, sums up the day nicely.

For most of the 20th century in Copenhagen, a massive armada of cargo bikes were the backbone of transport in the city. A fantastic army of men and boys from the poor neighbourhoods made the city work. Men and boys who were also invisible in the social hierarchy. They were called svajere in Danish – or swayers if you translate it directly - because of the swaying motion of the huge, flatbed bikes when heavily laden. In 1942, a priest named Kristian Skjerring decided to change things for the better. He wanted to give these svajere a pedestal on which to stand. He organised what became known as a Svajerløb in the city – a cargo bike race for these bicycle messengers. He raised money through the races to send the young men to summer camps. They were the hardest working people in Copenhagen and Skjerring thought they deserved some respect.

The races become incredibly popular in Copenhagen. Thousands came out to watch. There was prize money, but really it was about honour, and winning the right to call yourself the King of Copenhagen – at least until the next race. These Svajerløb races were held until 1960, when cars and vans started to dominate goods transport in the city. In 2009, the race was revived in Copenhagen and are now an annual event. The city has 40,000 cargo bikes in daily use, so a revival was a no-brainer. Unlike the 1940's, the cargo bike riders are now families and people with goods to transport. The Danish brand Larry vs Bullitt, who produce the Bullitt cargo bike, were behind resurrecting the races for the tradition, the fun and as an obvious platform to sell their product. While the event has developed a Red Bull feel to it - corporate marketing disguised as an event - there are race participants using many other cargo bike brands on race day.

Cargo bike races are spreading fast, in tact with the rise of the cargo bike itself in cities around the world. There is now an International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, Netherlands each year. Apart from the recent race in Barcelona, we have registered on our radar races in Vancouver, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin, among others. In the Netherlands, family-friendly cargo bike events have taken place for many years. There is a new Facebook group called Svajerløb Global - The Cargo Bike Race Community - where people can share experiences and let others know about their upcoming races and share photos after they're done.

So why not arrange a cargo bike race in your 'hood? Help raise awareness about the usefulness of cargo bikes and have a fun day doing it. Here are the basics to get you started.

Designing the Course
- Design a circuit in a loop (as opposed to an A to B course). There is no set length, but in our experience 400 meters seems to be a decent number. There should be some challenging turns, a slalom section and a straight, home stretch. If you have the chance to incorporate a hill, all the better. This ain't no Sunday bike ride, sunshine. Although think about the potential participants when you gauge the level of difficultly. In the Copenhagen version, there are many spandexy dudes among the participants and the course is usually designed for them and for speed. If you want your event to be more inclusive and aimed to drawing the curious as well as the experienced, create a course that is well-balanced. We've seen courses with an awkward patch of sand in the middle. Mix it up, if you want. Just keep it realistic and safe.

- The stop and finish line should be the same and should be next to the loading zone, where the riders will load up their bikes - read more in The Rules, farther down. For the loading zone, you'll need some space for the riders in each heat to stop and where you can position the cargo they have to load.

- If you can, design the circular course so that the spectators are primarily gathered around the stop/finish line and loading area but also so that they see the bikes on the course as much as possible. It helps maintain a level of energy if the spectactors can keep an eye on the race.

- Depending on the width of the course you design, you can have between four and six riders in each heat or race.

- You can use various barriersr to design the course. Plastic traffic cones or bollards, chairs connected with plastic tape, fences, you name it. Whatever you can get your hands on.

The Rules
We recommend using the original rules from the historical races in Copenhagen. The organisers of the annual race in Copenhagen these days stick to the same concept in order to maintain history and tradition, but also because the original rules are pretty cool. There are other cargo bike races at, for example, the bike messenger championships, but we'll stick with the historical rules here.

- The race consists of four laps. The riders wait on their bikes at the start line. The first lap is ridden empty. They speed around the course and, upon arriving in the loading area, they load up their bikes with the cargo. This is the fun part, which is why spectators should be positioned close to the area. Then the riders head out on three laps fully laden, until they cross the finish line for the fourth time.

- Depending on the number of participants, you can divide them up into heats. For example, the top two finishers can qualify for a semi-final or the final. Or top three. You'll figure it out. It's a hard race, so try to limit the maximum number of races an individual will race to three.

- Cargo: In the traditional races in the 1940's, the cargo often consisted of car tires, newspaper bundles, empty, wooden beer crates and sandbags. Cargo bike championships held in Paris in the 1920's and 1930's measured the weight of the cargo at 50 kg, although this was raised to 65 kg. Try to aim for between 35-50 kg as a rule of thumb. The cargo should not only be designed for weight. Make sure that you have items that oddly-shaped and difficult to secure to the bike. At the Barcelona race in October 2017, we had to be creative. Each rider had to load two plastic-wrapped bundles of water in 1 litre bottles (12 bottles in each), 5 kg bags of potatoes, another 3 litre bottle of water, a 5 kg bag of potting soil and a pack of 12 toilet paper rolls. We distributed the cargo to people after the race so we didn't waste anything.

- Riders can use bungees or inner tubes to secure the cargo if they want. They can also carry an item in their hand.

- After the bike is loaded and they head out on the last three laps, the cargo has to stay on the bike. If something falls off, the rider has to stop and pick it up, getting it back onto the bike before continuing.

- Categories: traditionally speaking, there was a two-wheeler race, a three-wheeler race and a team relay. In modern versions, we've seen the addition of a women's category and a vintage bike category. In some cities, vintage cargo bike are hard to come by, so you can make the call about whether to have this category. If there are cargo bikes with an electric assist, you can create a category for them, if you like. Then there is the team relay. In this event, four riders share one bike. Each of them do one lap, four in all, just like the other races. When the first rider arrives in the loading area, the team members help to load the bike and the next rider gets on. It is permitted to help push the new rider into motion.

- Next to the start/finish line and loading area, set up a table for the organisers and have some sort of board on which you can write the names of the riders in each race. Make race numbers that the riders have to put on their bikes so you can keep track of them. Pro tip: make them put the numbers on the side of the bike that faces the table as they pass. :-)

- Spread out the races to allow for time between races. You can do all the heats for the two-wheelers, then move on to the three-wheelers and women's race and then get back to the semi-finals or finals. Traditionally, the team relay is the last race.

Family-friendly Race Ideas
In order to make the race even more family friendly, there can be side events with a parent cycling with a child in the box. You can created a separate course designed for finesse cycling and balance. The kids can be equipped with a stick and you can hang large rings up on thread. The parent cycles the bike close and the kid has to spear the ring with the stick, collecting as many rings as possible to win. Another idea is a cargo bike version of the egg race. A parent, with a kid in the box, has to cycle an obstacle course balancing an egg on a spoon. Or maybe the kid holds the spoon. Maybe both. Be creative.

The race itself need not be an expensive affair. Sponsors are always handy, if you can get them. Try to make it an inclusive affair and invite as many cargo bike brands as possible - if not to race, then to exhibit their products in the interest of growing awareness of cargo bikes as solutions for urban living. Copenhagenize Design Co was involved in the project for three years and our partners arranged all manner of events with numerous cargo bikes to encourage citizens to try them out and get a feel for them, in cities around Europe. It really helps broadcast the message if people get to test them out.

The more events around the world, the better!

Here are some links to cargo bike history:

- History of the svajere - cargo bike messengers - in Copenhagen

- The original cargo bike messengers

- Brazil is a cargo bike capital

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Utrecht, Cycle Street Cremerstraat before and after

BicycleDutch - 9 October, 2017 - 23:01
Utrecht continues to improve its cycling network. Just two weeks ago another new route for uninterrupted cycling was opened as an alternative to an existing cycle route alongside a busy … Continue reading →
Categories: Views


Subscribe to Cycling Embassy of Great Britain aggregator - Views