Cycle campaigning

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  • For discussions and actions on cycle campaigning.

    The UK's principal cycle campaigning organisations are:

    The Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): ctc.org.uk/

    The London Cycling Campaign (LCC): lcc.org.uk/

    Cycle Nation (an alliance of local campaigning groups all over the UK): cyclenation.org.uk/

  • COPIED FROM SPOTTED (following the London Cyclists deaths vigil 2011) FWIW I want to lend my support and the plight of cyclists affected in this way in London concerns me greatly... But... I don't attend such events simply because I rarely feel that the solutions vocally campaigned for chime with my own politics or personal feelings. I'd feel a charlatan or a mawkish bystander if I attended and as such I stay away - feeling that an event potentially intended for the inclusion of families affected by tragedy etc is not the place for someone whose views may actually contrast with many of the attendees. I think it's worth recalling that we make the decision on a daily basis to promote cycling by getting on our bikes and using the roads while interacting with other road users... By being spotted as it were.

  • Hurrah - a thread at last!

    Now I don't have to feel like a campaign bore when posting in other threads.

    Some valid points made over in the spotted thread and I totally appreciate that deciding to cycle each day is one of the most crucial ways in which we can promote cycling.

    I personally find the 'ghost bikes' mawkish and rarely have they been installed by the victims' families whereas a large group of people coming together to say a few words, hold some banners and take a minute to reflect on the loss of a loved one is quite valuable and feedback given to me by family members indicates it's a real source of comfort to them.

    I'd love to see more foremengers at my Southwark Cyclists monthly meetings. We need ride leaders, volunteers to help with planning apps, council work, events, socials, website content writers and so much more. It's not all deadly serious of course - we do try to have fun in the process!

    Alex

  • Hey guys...thought I'd spill my guts about this seeing as my post in spotted triggered some further debate. I have no intention to cause offence with this post and hope that this will trigger a debate that will teach me more about issues I know little about.

    Firstly I'd like to say that campaigning for safer roads and more sensible legislation governing the use of lorries in central London is clearly a very important thing. As somebody who covers 100mi+ a week on London streets I see lorries squeezing themselves through roads that simply cannot accomodate them safely and junctions that are misleading, confusing and sometimes downright dangerous. LCC and other campaign groups do have a ethical responsibility to address this and it is a cause to which I am happy to lend my support. At some point, TFL and other organisations will have to listen and have to take action and collective and cumulative pressure is key.

    However, I sometimes feel that the focus has shifted too far away from the cyclists themselves. We must all take responsibility for our own safety and I also think that as a dedicated and proud cyclist I have a responsibility to spread the safe cycling message to other cyclists who perhaps are less aware or experienced. Sometimes, in fact quite often, cyclists are in accidents due to their own actions.

    I think that most people who ride in London have noticed the huge spike in road works, bottlenecks and lorry traffic in recent months. The next 6 to 12 months will probably be the most dangerous period facing london cyclists possibly ever. Can you imagine what it is going to be like when we have millions of people descend on our city in hire cars with little experience of driving on the other side of the road and bringing continental/global driving styles with them? Add the logistics vehicles (lorries too!) to that swollen number of road users and things could begin to look quite nasty.

    I feel very strongly that the various campaign groups MUST scale back their attention from junctions and lorries for a period of time and pile their resources into hammering home cycle safety messages to everybody who they can possibly engage with. I think we should be flyering bikes with key messages, targeting cyclists on busy commuter routes, getting bike shops to talk to purchases at point of sale... really shouting about the free cycle training that is available etc etc etc. I'm sick to death of being told by various campaign group members on this forum that this approach will not work...it will improve things if only slightly.

    I appreciate that the various groups do a lot to promote cycle safety but I feel that some groups have become quite insular and also are afraid to go out there and force the message on people for fear of scaring people away from their bikes. I feel, perhaps, for once, that it is time to take that risk and see if we can save a few lives and limbs in the coming exciting period for London.

    I see heartstopping moments every other day when out on my bike and can remember clearly the days when I was less experienced and used to put myself into dangerous positions until others taught me the errors of my ways. From where I am standing, the ratio of near misses caused by bad cycling compared to bad lorry driving/layout is approaching 10:1.

    No campaign group is going to make a blind bit of difference to lorries and junctions between now and the end of the summer. I feel that some of the groups have become particularly insular and caught up in their own manifestos to the point of losing focus on some issues that are probably more pressing than others.

    On the subject of personal responsibility, if we see somebody do something dangerous I feel we must say something even if we risk an abusive response. To all the RLJers on the forum, please think about what you do. I RLJ sometimes and feel quite safe doing so but we are setting an example to riders who maybe don't have the same experience as some of us and who don't have the neccessary experience to read the roads. Even if we are rljing safely, others will see us, think its ok and put themselves at risk. We must lead by example. Further, the roads work because every road user is supposed to obey the same set of rules and behave predictably. Over the coming months especially, we need to be acting predictably so that drivers who are not used to driving in London have the best chance possible of making it from A to B without taking one of us out.

    How many times have you filtered through a small gap because you feel confident and safe to do so only to realise that half a dozen nodders have followed you through that gap despite the fact the lights are about to change?

    So...on to why I don't go to LCC meetings and other forums to debate these issues. Quite simply, I'm sick of the holier than thou and sanctimonius attitude that seems to pervade those who have been involved in those groups for a long period of time when somebody attempts to bring new ideas to the table. Fresh blood is woefully overdue.

    These are my humble opinions. Please tell me if I am wrong. If anybody has any suggestions on what I can personally do (shut up is not an option ;) ) then please let me know.

    Thanks to all of you who have Facebooked me and PM'd me in support. Its nice to know that I'm not the only person who has these views.

    (Sits back and awaits the flaming and nergging).

  • tl;dr

    Oh and in the long term, I'd like to see annual independent reassessment of qualified cycle trainers. I've seen some shocking riding from some of them recently. (just in case I haven't upset people enough).

    EDIT: A couple of people have quite correctly pointed out that this is a sweeping statement and not constructive at all. I have major concerns about one individual and minor concerns about somebody else. My lack of understanding of how that field is governed is clear. Apologies if I caused offence. My fire selector was in fully automatic.

  • Have to be careful what I write cos of my job.

    Agree that some cycle campaign groups, whilst well intentioned, are actually at risk of making things worse than better. Single issue groups in many areas (not just cycling) are often guilty of this.

    The local "cycle forums" & cycle campaign groups I've attended have a certain type of stereotype cyclist present, which is not representative of the range of folks who really do cycle day to day.

    That said, there's some good been done, and if no-one campaigned things'd likely be much worse.

    Oliver - you don't mention the Cycling Embassy
    of Great Britain in your first post listing groups. Out of interest, why not?

  • I feel that my rant above was a little too attacking at points. I think the campaign groups provide a lot of positive things.

    However, judging by the amount of PMs, rep and facebook messages I'm getting in support of the above, I seem to have struck a chord with a lot of people. If I'm wrong in my opinions, then LCC and the others have a hearts and minds mission on their hands. I don't appear to be alone in thinking the above.

  • With fantastic timing, here's an example of bad cycle campaigning, highlighting the divide between vehicular cyclists and dutch infrastructure types:

    bicyclingsd.blogspot.com/2011/12/­vehicular-cycling-advocates-spawn-of.htm­l

    the irony being that as I read this, the Blogger is every much what's she's bemoaning, just in a different 'camp'.

    There're points she makes I agree with, others I don't, however the presentation of the points in this inflamatory (and poorly attempted humour) manner is typical of many campaign blogs that get shared on twitter / other articles.

    I find it very frustrating and as such try to avoid engaging with 'cycle campaigners' outside of my working day.

  • making a decision to cycle is making a decision to try to move safely through the community.

    making a decision to drive a motor powered vehicle through the community detracts from safety.

    please don't blame the victims.

  • good we have thread on cycle campaigning.

    well done oliver.

  • making a decision to cycle is making a decision to try to move safely through the community..

    Nope, it was based on cost and convenience.

    making a decision to drive a motor powered vehicle through the community detracts from safety..

    Really?

  • making a decision to cycle is making a decision to try to move safely through the community.

    making a decision to drive a motor powered vehicle through the community detracts from safety.

    please don't blame the victims.

    I am not blaming the victims.

    When I first started cycling my brother (another forumenger) told me that the majority of london cyclist deaths involve lorries and that I should not pass one, moving or stationary at a junction, under any circumstances at all as I would be putting my life at risk.

    Does anybody know whether any cyclist accidents would have been avoided if the victim had heard and absorbed this advice beforehand?

    What if bike shops gave this advice? What if we spent time during commuting hours spreading this message? Handing out flyers...talking to people...stickering bikes...

    If that message can be spread more and saves one limb or life then it is worth it in my book. Campaigners can still fight for the other aspects. Can somebody please explain to me why this is not worthwhile to persue this message more aggressively?

    Ive had this debate with an LCC member and he said it was a bad idea because it might put people off cycling...is that really such a big deal if it saves lives in the short term and reduces cyclist number if we succeed in making London a safer place in the long term so that more may feel safe to cycle then?

  • Hurrah - a thread at last!

    Now I don't have to feel like a campaign bore when posting in other threads.

    Now you can feel like a campaign bore when posting in this thread? ;P

    I personally find the 'ghost bikes' mawkish and rarely have they been installed by the victims' families whereas a large group of people coming together to say a few words, hold some banners and take a minute to reflect on the loss of a loved one is quite valuable and feedback given to me by family members indicates it's a real source of comfort to them.

    It's always key to keep things in perspective. It is of course important to deal with the emotions aroused by such incidents, ideally to convert them into some positive action.

  • +1 Oliver. Talking to other cyclists about what happened is one way to convert some of the grief and loss from an accident into a positive. Maybe ghost bikes are a prompt to encourage discussion?

  • Good post, Dan.

    However, I sometimes feel that the focus has shifted too far away from the cyclists themselves. We must all take responsibility for our own safety and I also think that as a dedicated and proud cyclist I have a responsibility to spread the safe cycling message to other cyclists who perhaps are less aware or experienced. Sometimes, in fact quite often, cyclists are in accidents due to their own actions.

    I think that most people who ride in London have noticed the huge spike in road works, bottlenecks and lorry traffic in recent months. The next 6 to 12 months will probably be the most dangerous period facing london cyclists possibly ever. Can you imagine what it is going to be like when we have millions of people descend on our city in hire cars with little experience of driving on the other side of the road and bringing continental/global driving styles with them? Add the logistics vehicles (lorries too!) to that swollen number of road users and things could begin to look quite nasty.

    I wouldn't worry too much about extra (motor) traffic in terms of safety. Counter-intuitively, the available evidence correlates traffic growth (any traffic) with a reduction in crashes (as motor traffic especially has grown over the last couple of decades, and speeds have consequently gone down, especially in the inner cities, there have been fewer crashes). What is to be worried about are certain aspects of the Olympic Route Network, which will be cleared of other traffic for faster travel by the 'Olympic Family'.

    I feel very strongly that the various campaign groups MUST scale back their attention from junctions and lorries for a period of time and pile their resources into hammering home cycle safety messages to everybody who they can possibly engage with. I think we should be flyering bikes with key messages, targeting cyclists on busy commuter routes, getting bike shops to talk to purchases at point of sale... really shouting about the free cycle training that is available etc etc etc. I'm sick to death of being told by various campaign group members on this forum that this approach will not work...it will improve things if only slightly.

    Who has told you here that cycle training 'doesn't work'? It's one of the best things there is. Have you seen the last evaluation done by Tower Hamlets?

    146.101.137.229/resources/Campaig­ns/CycleDigest68%282011-12%29.pdf

    (See the article on page 4.)

    Don't be too confused by an apparent conflict between 'infrastructure' and other things. There is none. The high-level infrastructure interventions (network permeability, nodes/junctions) make a massive difference, too, it's just that TfL are highly inert in this respect. They are definitely worth campaigning for. Low-level infrastructure interventions are less worth campaigning for, but it always depends on what people's political conditions are.

    I appreciate that the various groups do a lot to promote cycle safety but I feel that some groups have become quite insular and also are afraid to go out there and force the message on people for fear of scaring people away from their bikes. I feel, perhaps, for once, that it is time to take that risk and see if we can save a few lives and limbs in the coming exciting period for London.

    It would be interesting to hear which groups you mean.

    No campaign group is going to make a blind bit of difference to lorries and junctions between now and the end of the summer.

    That's definitely not true, Dan. In Hackney alone, for instance, we've got a couple of very worthwhile junction interventions on the boil, and there is certainly constant progress on the lorries issue. Did you hear that cycle training is now officially a CPD module for many professional drivers (lorries, buses)?

    I feel that some of the groups have become particularly insular and caught up in their own manifestos to the point of losing focus on some issues that are probably more pressing than others.

    Probably, but can you be more specific? PM me if you don't want to say on the thread.

    On the subject of personal responsibility, if we see somebody do something dangerous I feel we must say something even if we risk an abusive response. To all the RLJers on the forum, please think about what you do. I RLJ sometimes and feel quite safe doing so but we are setting an example to riders who maybe don't have the same experience as some of us and who don't have the neccessary experience to read the roads. Even if we are rljing safely, others will see us, think its ok and put themselves at risk. We must lead by example. Further, the roads work because every road user is supposed to obey the same set of rules and behave predictably. Over the coming months especially, we need to be acting predictably so that drivers who are not used to driving in London have the best chance possible of making it from A to B without taking one of us out.

    There's a pretty influential theory that suggests that if all street users adhered to the rules of the Highway Code, or other, similar, sets of rules in other countries, crashes would be very much reduced. That's one reason why it's not a good idea for bike riders to violate the HC all the time. Yes, people on bikes cause very little road danger, but they are still people just like car drivers, and we expect others to act in such a way that they can wish for us to act in the same way. This is obviously on a basic human level, and avoids the tedious 'us and them' when it comes to other street users.

    So...on to why I don't go to LCC meetings and other forums to debate these issues. Quite simply, I'm sick of the holier than thou and sanctimonius attitude that seems to pervade those who have been involved in those groups for a long period of time when somebody attempts to bring new ideas to the table. Fresh blood is woefully overdue.

    Might I just point out the delicious contradiction inside this paragraph? ;)

    We all do what we can, Dan, don't get me wrong. There's no moral obligation for you to get involved, and if people in campaign groups whose meetings you've attended put you off, you could do worse than coming along to a Southwark or Hackney meeting, where you'lll at least meet Alex or myself, and perhaps we're just about bearable. :)

    If you don't want to go on your own, get a posse together.

  • Oliver - you don't mention the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain in your first post listing groups. Out of interest, why not?

    They're not by any stretch of the imagination a principal campaigning organisation.

  • +1 Oliver. Talking to other cyclists about what happened is one way to convert some of the grief and loss from an accident into a positive. Maybe ghost bikes are a prompt to encourage discussion?

    For some people, ghost bikes (as roadside memorials) fulfil an important emotional function. I think we should have roadside memorials for every death in the street (the footways would get pretty crowded very quickly!), but that's not usually done, and most memorials fade after a while, just like ghost bikes are taken away.

  • Does anybody know whether any cyclist accidents would have been avoided if the victim had heard and absorbed this advice beforehand?

    There's no doubt that some deaths might have been avoided if some people had had this advice before and heeded it. A large number of deaths wouldn't have been avoided, though, e.g. when a lorry overtook a rider from behind around a corner. (I know you're not blaming the victims--neither am I.)

    If that message can be spread more and saves one limb or life then it is worth it in my book. Campaigners can still fight for the other aspects. Can somebody please explain to me why this is not worthwhile to persue this message more aggressively?

    It's always worthwhile to spread it, and it's pretty much the first thing we tell people:

    no-more-lethal-lorries.org.uk­/

    Danger zone:

    Ive had this debate with an LCC member and he said it was a bad idea because it might put people off cycling...is that really such a big deal if it saves lives in the short term and reduces cyclist number if we succeed in making London a safer place in the long term so that more may feel safe to cycle then?

    It does put people off cycling to be told that cycling is dangerous, which it isn't, but it is certainly not a problem to tell them about this very specific danger. The person to whom you spoke either didn't know what they were talking about, or you misunderstood something.

  • With fantastic timing, here's an example of bad cycle campaigning, highlighting the divide between vehicular cyclists and dutch infrastructure types:

    bicyclingsd.blogspot.com/2011/12/­vehicular-cycling-advocates-spawn-of.htm­l

    This has to be a pisstake. :)

    You can be guaranteed that anyone who makes a big controversy out of these things isn't very experienced or knowledgeable.

  • They're not by any stretch of the imagination a principal campaigning organisation.

    they* set themselves out to be:

    cycling-embassy.org.uk/missio­n

    what will elevate them to principal in your eyes?

    *I have nowt to do with them, just keep tabs on their progress.

  • Thanks for a very well reasoned response Oliver.

    Do you think there is any value in specific points being put across at the point of sale of bikes? It is law that a TV license application form is included with the sale of a TV set...why not a simple non scaremongering leaflet with bikes?

    Do you believe the message about lorry dangers is communicated enough? I feel that we should be going out to communicate on the street where possible.

    I also dislike those diagrams of lorry blindspots. It doesn't matter. Stay behind the lorry and you'll be out of harms way. For example, what happens if you lose your front wheel on ice when alongside a lorry? You'll still go under the rear wheels...

  • I spotted the delicious contradiction in that paragraph too Oliver...I thought the context of the post nullified the contradiction i.e I was expressing myself to the groups and forum for pretty much the first time.

    Its great to hear that some junctions are being recitifed. Its a tiny percentage though. And besides, it doesn't just take a dodgy junction to cause an accident.

  • This has to be a pisstake. :)

    You can be guaranteed that anyone who makes a big controversy out of these things isn't very experienced or knowledgeable.

    I wish it was.

    Maybe not knowledgeable in this case, but there are examples of supposedly more knowledgeable stereotype cyclist who have produced similarly inflamatory blogs to support their particular campaigning angle.

  • they* set themselves out to be:

    cycling-embassy.org.uk/missio­n

    what will elevate them to principal in your eyes?

    I don't know, just give them some time. They're very new.

  • Thanks for a very well reasoned response Oliver.

    Do you think there is any value in specific points being put across at the point of sale of bikes? It is law that a TV license application form is included with the sale of a TV set...why not a simple non scaremongering leaflet with bikes?

    Oh, I think that would be a good thing, but so would cycle training at point of sale. However, remember that a huge number of bikes are sold, hm, 'informally'.

    Do you believe the message about lorry dangers is communicated enough? I feel that we should be going out to communicate on the street where possible.

    It can always be communicated better--we're already devoting a lot of resources to that, but more always helps (as long as the information is of good quality).

    I also dislike those diagrams of lorry blindspots. It doesn't matter. Stay behind the lorry and you'll be out of harms way. For example, what happens if you lose your front wheel on ice when alongside a lorry? You'll still go under the rear wheels...

    I like those diagrams. I wish that it was always sufficient to show people what to do rather than what not to do, but it rarely is.

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Cycle campaigning

Posted by Avatar for Oliver Schick @Oliver Schick

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