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Pedestrian safety campaigner accuses "cycling fraternity" of "plotting" against him

However, Living Streets insists John Peacock was not dismissed as he claims and has not been involved with the organisation for five years

Active travel campaigning in Norfolk would not be your first stop for tales of plotting and accusation, but one disgruntled pedestrian safety campaigner has claimed of just that — the "local cycling fraternity" plotting against him, forcing him out of an organisation he has worked for since 1997.

John Peacock, 68, told the Norwich Evening News that he was last week told to "clear his desk" by the head office of Living Streets, the national charity formerly named the Pedestrians' Association before it later took up campaigning for issues of cycling too.

Mr Peacock took the lead of the Norwich branch 26 years ago but says he has been "aware" parts of the "local cycling fraternity" had been "plotting against" him.

"I have been aware that certain elements within the local cycling fraternity were plotting against me," he told the local press.

"They have long objected to my raising awareness of the imbalance in planning priorities between cyclists and pedestrians."

He argues Living Streets' 2001 decision to also campaign for issues affecting cycling has been detrimental to the organisation's messaging, with last week's developments a "slap in the face".

"The two simply do not mix. People did not join the Pedestrians' Association to become advocates for the cycling lobby," he continued.

"London Street was the first street in the UK to be pedestrianised, it's something we should be proud of. But I fear that is all gone. This is a slap in the face and shows a lack of professionalism. This came as a shock after being at the helm for 26 years."

However, in a plotting plot twist, a Living Streets spokesperson clarified that Mr Peacock both had not been dismissed and, to their understanding, had not been involved with the organisation for five years.

Living Streets also added that multiple local groups should be able to cooperate and function without issue. The charity added that it is grateful for Mr Peacock's years of service and hopes to resolve his frustration.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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19 comments

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wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes

"They have long objected to my raising awareness of the imbalance in planning priorities between cyclists and pedestrians."

Since the imbalance is in favour of pedestrians why would they object to this? after all every (urban) road has segregated pedestrian space, but segreagetd cycling space is probably present on less than 1%.

Or is he really trying to resist redressing this imbalance?

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ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
4 likes

Village idiot makes the news. Well done.

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perce replied to ChuckSneed | 1 year ago
10 likes

Toadspawn is poisonous to fish but frogspawn isn't. I never knew that.

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eburtthebike | 1 year ago
14 likes

Dammit!  How did he find out?  Was it on GB news?  Was it the cycling mafia, the left wing capitalist cyclists, the anti-growth coalition cyclists or the ultra-right wing Marxist-Leninist cyclists?

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Awavey | 1 year ago
7 likes

NFN - normal for Norfolk.

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NOtotheEU replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
13 likes
Awavey wrote:

NFN - normal for Norfolk.

His wife and sister also used to work for Living Streets.

She resigned in disgust.

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Secret_squirrel replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
2 likes
NOtotheEU wrote:
Awavey wrote:

NFN - normal for Norfolk.

She resigned in disgust.

Disgust at what though?  Do they hate cyclists that much or are they too set  in their ways to accept change?

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AidanR replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
10 likes

You might want to re-read the joke again...

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Secret_squirrel replied to AidanR | 1 year ago
3 likes
AidanR wrote:

You might want to re-read the joke again...

Badum-tish! cheeky

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chrisonabike replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
6 likes

Why diss, norfolk?

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NOtotheEU replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
3 likes

Easy target, and the bandwagon was passing by.

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chrisonabike replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
1 like

They did use to have a bandstand: maybe now they have a visiting bandwaggon, like a library bus?

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essexian replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

I see what you did there. Very good.

Diss isn't that bad as a town...nice pond in the town centre and flat!

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twowheelsbetter_uk replied to essexian | 1 year ago
2 likes
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NOtotheEU replied to essexian | 1 year ago
1 like
essexian wrote:

I see what you did there. Very good.

I didn't, damn that sneaky punctuation!

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Boopop | 1 year ago
18 likes

I set up a local living streets group. I'm also secretary of the local cycling campaign group. Clearly in some circumstances pedestrians and cyclists shouldn't really mix, but I think to play them off against each other is a bit silly. The common enemy of all vulnerable road users is what we should all be campaigning against.

I'll give you a few clues - they usually have four wheels, weigh at least a ton, and are made of metal.

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chrisonabike replied to Boopop | 1 year ago
6 likes

It's not "silly" at all. It's because everyone not in a motor vehicle has been left to fight over scraps. Ultimately it's to sell motor vehicles but more immediately because we all want to drive to the walk. Which means there isn't much space left to walk (or wheel or cycle).

https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/fighting-over-scraps/

Mixing cycling and walking is not desirable, it's normally a symptom of problems. In the UK it's a deliberate aim for cheap "infra provision" without spending money or upsetting drivers. Plus it facilitates the main goal our designers are set which is "maximum throughput of *motor* traffic consistent with safety", for which "move everyone else out of the way" is then a logical step.

Our system has certainly not got much to do with creating communities and human-friendly environments, no matter how much place-faking you see on promotional material for new developments.

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Boopop replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

I totally accept that we're "fighting for scraps" as you put it, but to get caught up with walking advocates arguing with cycling advocates, back and forth endlessly is letting the motor lobby get away with ruining urban and sub-urban environments. It is silly for vulnerable road user advocacy groups to argue when all parties should unite and be pushing to take space from motor vehicle drivers, not each other.

"Mixing cycling and walking is not desirable".

This is usually true (and indeed advised against in LTN 20/01) but I don't think it's always the case. High streets? Mix them. It's what they do in the Netherlands, at least some of the time. Sure you could have a cycle lane running through the centre, but then that makes some riders think they can just blast through and have priority over pedestrians. B/A road where you rarely see a pedestrian, but are more likely to see a cyclist? Mix them, so long as there are no blind corners. It's what they do in Cambridgeshire and I'd rather cycle there than on a busy, fast road. If there's space to separate, sure go for it, but don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

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chrisonabike replied to Boopop | 1 year ago
1 like

On "Mixing cycling and walking is not desirable" and "High streets? Mix them. It's what they do in the Netherlands, at least some of the time."

I'm not certain about how much that last sentence applies. It occurs on country routes where there is not much cycling *or* walking and more of the former. Towns have pedestrianised areas where you do see people cycling but as soon as there are numbers of pedestrians this it's obviously just people getting back on their bikes having stopped and walked, not using a through route.

While NL *does* have the best designs if we could somehow transform a UK place in that way overnight (we wouldn't be able to) there would be problems the next day. There would be *too many people driving* for the infra, too quickly, they wouldn't yield where they should etc.

Initially all the "cycling space" would be taken up by pedestrians, because there is huge suppressed demand for car-free spaces and currently most people don't cycle but lots would immediately take the kids out walking, the dog, risk going to the shop using their walker etc.

As people realised they could now cycle more definitely would but now a) there are pedestrians "in their way" - they'd cycle like they were used to driving and good luck to pedestrians! It would still be safer and more convenient for pedestrians - they'd just feel unnerved because they're not used to turning around to find a cyclist passing close to them. We're used to cars doing this...

We will have to evolve our way forward. I hope we don't have to reinvent good tested designs and principles (when we do it's usually much worse). However starting out by mixing cycling and pedestrians by default is a) probably baking in a fairly low limit to active travel and b) avoiding tackling the main issue - rebalancing our transport and places by reallocating space from motor traffic.

I know we're limited about what we can do about (b) to start with. So comprise for the UK - yes. However we should be very wary of aiming too low, missing even that and allowing councils to bake in conflict with people walking (who are all potential cyclists).

I find Robert Weetman's articles on better street design thought-provoking eg here:

https://robertweetman.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/divide-and-rule/

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