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"It's not always the car's fault" - Laura Trott says reckless cyclists to blame if they get hurt & helmets should be compulsory

Double Olympic champion says riders breaking law shouldn't be surprised if they get hit...

Laura Trott claims that cyclists riding recklessly have only themselves to blame should they get hit by a vehicle. “It’s not always the car’s fault” she said. She also echoed calls by Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in recent days for cycle helmets to be made compulsory.

Trott, winner of two gold medals at London 2012, was speaking in her role as one of Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s cycling ambassadors, says the Evening Standard.

While the mayor has expressed concerns about a minority of cyclists who disobey the rules of the road, Trott’s comments appear far more sweeping and, some may say, poorly thought through.

“Cyclists wonder why they get a bad name,” she told the newspaper. “I see cyclists jumping in and out of the buses and people wonder why they get hit.

“It’s not always the car’s fault,” she added, although of course substituting “motorist” for “car” would be more accurate.

“Cyclists need to help themselves and should not jump red lights.

“I would ride in London but I certainly wouldn’t ride like that, you just have to be careful.

“I can understand going down the outside of traffic but you should obey the rules of the road because we’re all road users.”

The Standard points out that 14 cyclists lost their lives on the city’s roads last year, and that six more have died so far in 2013.

What neither it – nor Trott – acknowledge is that in the vast majority of cases, the cyclist has done nothing wrong.

And far from cars, it is lorries that present the greatest danger to cyclists on London’s streets.

According to the London Cycling Campaign, HGVs account for just 5 per cent of the city’s traffic, but are responsible for around half of cyclist fatalities.

Many of those deaths occur at junctions, where the cyclist – all too often, a female in her 20s or 30s – is obeying the law, stopped at a traffic light, but on the inside of a lorry that then turns left and not seen by the driver.

Trott, aged 21, has also called for more segregated bike lanes, such as the one planned to run along the Embankment.

“It shows show we’re becoming a cycling nation and the scheme is needed now. If you don’t do it then London’s roads are going to be filled with cyclists. We need more bike lanes in central London.”

TfL’s video animations showing new infrastructure being out in place on the Stratford extension of Barclays Cycle Superhighway CS2 have been widely criticised, including here on road.cc, as over-complicated and counter-intuitive, however.

Trott added that helmets should be made compulsory for cyclists, something that the mayor’s own cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, opposes.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish have also supported calls for mandatory helmets for cyclists in recent days.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Simon_MacMichael replied to koko56 | 10 years ago
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koko56 wrote:

Getting real tired of this shit that oh HGVs are so bad and kill all the cyclists. If a cyclist is stopped on the inside of the lorry they have blame, no matter which way you look it - unless it's this view that cars and especially lorry drivers must have some 6th sense about cyclist all the time that can maneuver much quicker and are a lot smaller through traffic.

Mary Bowers - will require round-the-clock care for the rest of her life (and will probably never regain consciousness) after being crushed by a lorry, the driver of which admitted being distracted by talking on a hands-free mobile and not checking mirrors properly. He was fined.

Catriona Patel - killed by a lorry driver still drunk from the night before who was talking on a handheld mobile. He had been disqualified 20 times and had three convictions for drink driving and three convictions for reckless driving; seven years imprisonment, lifetime ban.

Eilidh Cairns - killed by a lorry whose driver was never directly charged in connection with her death but whose eyesight was deemed to be below the required standard. He would go on to kill a pedestrian.

All experienced cyclists, and that is just three cases, there are many others I could cite.

But maybe we should lay off the drivers, eh?

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dave atkinson replied to koko56 | 10 years ago
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koko56 wrote:

this villanasing of lorries in cases where cyclists position themselves in potential blind spots is plain wrong - what seems like a subconscious red herring from the fact that cyclists should be either far in front of a lorry/large vehicle or behind it at lights - if this is not common sense then you are a far greater danger to yourself than anyone else on the road.

what, even though that's where all the 'cycle superhighways' and lanes to ASLs are? so if i'm cycling along a cycle superhighway, and a lorry overtakes me and then turns left and crushes me and i die, that's somehow my fault? And if I'm filtering to the front of the ASL along the lane that TfL have provided for me, and the lights change, and the lorry doesn't see me and crushes me and i die, that's my fault too?

what isn't in doubt is that a lot of the time lorry drivers *are* to blame: they get prosecuted. go and read the reports. other times it's less clear, and sometimes the cyclist is found to be at fault. but those are very much the minority. and we should be designing our city transport so that a single mistake - from a lorry driver *or* a cyclist - doesn't result in someone getting killed. what we *shouldn't* be doing is making it about Red lights and riding on the pavement, and helmets. because none of those things really matter that much.

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Chuck replied to dave atkinson | 10 years ago
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She's right in that a lot of people ride like idiots and if they got hurt it wouldn't necessarily be a driver's fault. But on the whole I agree that people in her position are likely to be viewed as spokespeople for all cyclists. Trott might not be looking for a platform to promote her views on cycling at the expense of a more measured view from somebody like, say, Chris Boardman, but that's what effectively happens, same as with Wiggins and Cavendish. Wouldn't be a bad idea for British Cycling to give them some pointers on how to avoid this sort of thing, as suggested above.

Dave Atkinson wrote:

what we *shouldn't* be doing is making it about Red lights and riding on the pavement, and helmets. because none of those things really matter that much.

Absolutely right- and yet, at the same time, they do matter, because the vast majority of people aren't cyclists and they seem to see these very things as very important.

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PhilRuss replied to koko56 | 10 years ago
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Koko56 says:
"Getting real tired of this shit that oh HGVs are so bad and kill all the cyclists. If a cyclist is stopped on the inside of the lorry they have blame, no matter which way you look it - unless it's this view that cars and especially lorry drivers must have some 6th sense about cyclist all the time...."
[[[[[ Curiously, buses don't have "blind spots", do they? And do bus-drivers need this "6th sense" you mention? No, they have sensible mirrors (especially on the near-side)and I assume they look in that mirror before turning left---otherwise we'd be constantly reading about all these cyclists "killed by left-turning buses".
No, there are indeed a lot of crap cyclists about, but you'd think truckers would be aware of them by now. Get proper mirrors and use them!
P.R.

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mintimperial | 10 years ago
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Oh for god's sake...

Would someone at British Cycling please sit down with their precious star athletes and tell them that the last thing we need is them spouting garbage like this? Yes, there are bad cyclists out there, Laura. We know that, because it's pretty much the only thing we hear about from the mainstream press and non-cyclists on the matter. You don't need to add your 2p on the subject. If you can't say something positive about real people riding bikes out in the real world, just shut up. The same goes for you too, Bradley, and Mark, and the rest of you.

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festival replied to mintimperial | 10 years ago
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==

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festival replied to mintimperial | 10 years ago
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//

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festival replied to mintimperial | 10 years ago
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mintimperial wrote:

Oh for god's sake...

Would someone at British Cycling please sit down with their precious star athletes and tell them that the last thing we need is them spouting garbage like this? Yes, there are bad cyclists out there, Laura. We know that, because it's pretty much the only thing we hear about from the mainstream press and non-cyclists on the matter. You don't need to add your 2p on the subject. If you can't say something positive about real people riding bikes out in the real world, just shut up. The same goes for you too, Bradley, and Mark, and the rest of you.

Well said!

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brakesmadly replied to mintimperial | 10 years ago
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mintimperial wrote:

Oh for god's sake...
If you can't say something positive about real people riding bikes out in the real world, just shut up. The same goes for you too, Bradley, and Mark, and the rest of you.

I took serious offence with this. Until I remembered that my full name (Mark Bradley) doesn't appear in my signature!  103

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Philbert replied to mintimperial | 10 years ago
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I'd much rather have an athlete who speaks their own mind (no matter what that is) than one who is told what to say by their governing body.

I'm pretty sure King Jong-Un's athletes only say what they're allowed to say.

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brakesmadly | 10 years ago
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The main disservice is making the same mistake as the media: We're 'cyclists'. No, we're people who cycle. We're mostly people who walk and drive too.

The principle of her point is correct. There are a lot of people who thoughtlessly put themselves in danger whilst cycling. Only this morning I overheard a conversation "I've been knocked off my bike 5 times in 9 years."

Without wishing to tempt fate I've been cycling for 40 years and commuting through Bristol rush hour for 5 and never even had a near-miss.

Don't get me started on helmet compulsion. I wear one 99.9% of the time and clearly they're generally a good idea. There's no need to legislate though.

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nellybuck@msn.com | 10 years ago
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I think what this highlights most is that the poor behaviour of some people on bikes has a significantly negative impact on the ability to sensibly discuss cycling safety. While people continue to ride poorly, it will always be used as an argument against improving road safety through other means.

To me that would be the major criticism of bad riding practices, rather than any dangers inherent within the practices themselves.

What Laura says about people doing stupid things being to blame isn't actually wrong, but the inference that it represents a significant danger to cyclists is wrong.

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fluffy_mike replied to nellybuck@msn.com | 10 years ago
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I think what this highlights most is that the poor behaviour of some people on bikes has a significantly negative impact on the ability to sensibly discuss cycling safety. While people continue to ride poorly, it will always be used as an argument against improving road safety through other means.

What total rubbish - how another person cycles, drives, farts or whistles has nothing to do with me.

I demand streets that are safe enough for my partner and kids to cycle, and bollocks to anyone else who says some random fool going through a red light makes my demand for safe streets for my family somehow invalid.

It's a pathetic argument used by moronic shock-jocks and politicians.

Now, please can we all stop validating this total idiocy...

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WolfieSmith replied to nellybuck@msn.com | 10 years ago
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+ 1

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WolfieSmith replied to nellybuck@msn.com | 10 years ago
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+ 1 on Nelly Buck

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sfichele | 10 years ago
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What a massive, massive disservice she has just done to everyday cycling

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mrmo | 10 years ago
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the niavety of youth, yes she is right if you ride recklessly and get yourself killed then you are at fault. Then again, kids are stupid and run out in front of cars, are we to say that drivers never have any fault in such a scenario?

As for Helmets, if you are riding for sport, wear a helmet, if you are riding for transport, do you wear a helmet to drive? to walk? etc. Do you wear a helmet and install safety lines to go up and down stairs?

Somethings are better treated as normal, and enforcing helmet laws only suggests the activity is dangerous.

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zanf replied to mrmo | 10 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

As for Helmets, if you are riding for sport, wear a helmet, if you are riding for transport, do you wear a helmet to drive? to walk? etc. Do you wear a helmet and install safety lines to go up and down stairs?

Even helmets for sports cyclists is questionable as they did nothing for Wouter Weylandt.

Cycling helmets (as their current manufactured specifications), are worse than useless. They are built to withstand certain impacts (linear, not oblique or rotational) at low speeds (<12mph) and create an illusion of safety.

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mrmo replied to zanf | 10 years ago
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zanf wrote:

Even helmets for sports cyclists is questionable as they did nothing for Wouter Weylandt.

Cycling helmets (as their current manufactured specifications), are worse than useless. They are built to withstand certain impacts (linear, not oblique or rotational) at low speeds (<12mph) and create an illusion of safety.

Agree, but as all the governing bodies (i believe) require them, you might as well wear them in training as well.

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Tom Amos | 10 years ago
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A helmet will work wonders when an HGV runs you over.

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Mart | 10 years ago
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I wonder if she has told Boris her views on helmets? Because he can often be seen without one. Compulsory helmets = death of Boris bikes.
I'm starting to get annoyed with celebrity riders who don't take the time to read scientific reports before making statements while in their official capacity.

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mad_scot_rider | 10 years ago
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Proof positive - winning at a sport does *NOT* make you an expert in anything

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Gkam84 | 10 years ago
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I think they must all be getting paid by a helmet manufacturer to put out all this bullshit

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BigBear63 replied to Gkam84 | 10 years ago
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You may well be right. Wiggo was singing a different tune until recently. So why the change of heart? Has he seen some statistics unseen by the rest of the world? If so lets see them.

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