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London’s cycling chief says he was “punched in the face” by cyclist he confronted for not waiting for pedestrian at floating bus stop

Deputy Mayor of Transport Seb Dance made the comments to a blindness campaigner during Mayor’s Question Time earlier this week

London’s deputy mayor for transport Seb Dance has claimed that he was “punched in the face” by a cyclist he confronted for not waiting for a pedestrian at a floating bus stop.

The former Labour MEP, whose role focuses on delivering Sadiq Khan’s transport strategy and ensuring that 80 percent of journeys in London are walked, cycled, or made using public transport by 2041, made the claim during Thursday’s Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.

In a video published by the Daily Telegraph, Dance can be seen describing the incident to a visually impaired campaigner who attended the public meeting to oppose the installation of floating bus stops in the capital, as the National Federation of the Blind wrote to mayor Sadiq Khan calling for “urgent action” to protect pedestrians from being hit by cyclists and e-scooter users on the contested infrastructure.

“I was cycling alongside a floating bus stop, and there was someone waiting to cross,” Dance says in the video.

“I stopped, and two of my fellow cyclists didn’t. I then caught up with them and remonstrated with them. And I was punched in the face for my efforts.”

After the campaigner raised the well-trodden issue of licence plates for cyclists, the Labour politician noted that, since the alleged attacker was riding a hire bike, he could be tracked and that the incident was reported to the police.

> “More needs to be done”: Sadiq Khan to “raise awareness” among London cyclists for improving safety of floating bus stops

Dance’s claim was made at the same event where Sadiq Khan promised a review of the guidance and enforcement around the use of floating bus stops, after 164 campaign groups raised safety concerns for visually impaired pedestrians on the infrastructure – but failed to provide evidence of any incident.

Floating bus stops, where a cycle lane is sandwiched between a bus stop and the pavement, have been introduced in many parts of the country to protect cyclists from being stuck behind a stationary bus or having to pull out into moving traffic.

However, blind campaigners highlighted what they claim to be the threat posed to visually impaired people by cyclists during Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday, with Khan confirming that Transport for London (TfL) was already reviewing the safety conditions of the bus stops.

“I’m more than happy to throw at this what we can to make sure these bus stop bypasses are safer than they appear to be,” he said.

A petition, penned by the president of the National Federation of the Blind UK and signed by 164 campaign groups was sent to Khan earlier this week, calling for “urgent action” to protect pedestrians from being hit by cyclists, e-bike riders, or e-scooters users.

“Expecting people who cannot see, who cannot move very fast, or who are using mobility aids to step on and into a cycle lane with speeding cyclists and people using e-devices is simply not safe,” the letter argued.

However, the campaigners admitted that they were unaware of specific incidents of blind people coming to harm — but claimed that the potential danger of colliding with a cyclist had led many blind people to avoid using buses in the first place.

> Sunday Telegraph accused of using divisive rhetoric in “death trap” floating bus stops article

The letter came just days after the Sunday Telegraph controversially quoted a spokesperson for the National Federation of the Blind who labelled floating bus stops as “death traps” – despite not providing any evidence to back up that assertion.

 “Our concerns, our evidence and our accessibility needs have been ignored, diminished and ridiculed for far too long over the inherently discriminatory floating bus stop design,” Sarah Gayton, the charity’s shared space co-ordinator, told the newspaper.

“We need a complete halt on any new ones being installed, getting the ones installed in lockdown taken out, and all the others removed. It beggars belief that they’re still putting them in. This research should be a massive wake-up call. It’s crazy.”

Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, defended the infrastructure, saying: “Bus stop bypasses are a nationally recognised approach for avoiding the dangers of cyclists going around buses into oncoming traffic.

“TfL, like many cities across the country, have integrated this approach into our cycleway programme and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in [the] number of people cycling in the city. We are continually working to make all our infrastructure as safe as possible for all road users. All cyclists are required to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings in accordance with the Highway Code.”

> “Like playing Russian roulette” – Blind people raise concerns about floating cycle lane bus stops

Nevertheless, the claim was picked up by Conservative London Assembly member Emma Best, who echoed the newspaper’s rhetoric on Thursday when she claimed the majority of cyclists refuse to stop for pedestrians, putting the safety of pensioners and young children at risk.

She asked the mayor if he would support an “awareness campaign” advising cyclists on how to behave on floating bus stops, leading Khan to reply that while TfL’s installation of the Dutch-style infrastructure was “completely consistent” with Department for Transport’s guidance, all cyclists also need to stop at zebra crossings in accordance with the Highway Code.

“Clearly, if it is the case that that is not happening, we need to not just raise awareness, we need to try and ensure there is enforcement as well,” the Labour mayor told the public meeting.

“We need to make sure we keep cyclists safe from the risk of pulling out into traffic when a bus is [at] a bus stop, but also that pedestrians, particularly visually impaired ones, aren’t in danger because of cyclists not following the code. It’s really important they feel safe as well.

“What I am willing to do, and what I think we must do, is look into safety concerns raised by not just those who are visually impaired but others to make sure, in the quest to make cyclists safe, we don’t inadvertently, because a minority of cyclists aren’t following the rules, endanger others.”

> Pedestrian safety fears raised over floating bus stops on new cycle lane in Bath

Floating bus stops have already come under criticism in other cities by visually impaired people, with one campaigner from Glasgow suggesting it makes using the bus “like playing Russian roulette”, and another in Bath calling the infrastructure “an accident waiting to happen”.

However, Sustrans’ detailed analysis of potential conflict between pedestrians and cyclists at two floating bus stops in Cambridge in 2016 showed that “all interactions” between road users at the location concerned reflected “safe, normal behaviour.”

The study also found that 99 percent of the cyclists who passed through the location did not have any interaction with pedestrians.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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54 comments

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BigDoodyBoy | 1 year ago
2 likes

How did we go from that headline to a discussion about the rights and wrongs of floating bus stops? Where's the condemnation of the puncher? Why are people making excuses for the inexcusable?

Loved the stat that says that floating bus stops are safe because 99% of the time cyclists and pedestrians don't conflict at the stop. That's because 99% of the time there isn't a bus there! What are the stats when a bus is there? Is it better or worse with a floating bus stop? That's the stat we need.

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HoldingOn | 1 year ago
0 likes

The concept of these floating bus stops confuses me. I have thankfully never experienced one as a pedestrian nor a cyclist.

The article says: 
Floating bus stops, where a cycle lane is sandwiched between a bus stop and the pavement, have been introduced in many parts of the country to protect cyclists from being stuck behind a stationary bus or having to pull out into moving traffic.

I have been stuck behind many a stationary bus and I have had to pull out into moving traffic to get round it. If I don't think its safe, I wait until it is/ the bus has moved on. (Coincidentally, the same logic I apply when I am driving my car...)

When I am cycling (I cycle to work every day), I need to remind myself that my bike is quieter than even my feet hitting the path when I run. I fully understand why pedestrians can be shocked by cyclists.

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Safifi | 1 year ago
2 likes

Not defending the perpetrator but how did the victim conduct himself during the confrontation.

 

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carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago
8 likes

“Expecting people who cannot see, who cannot move very fast, or who are using mobility aids to step on and into a cycle lane with speeding cyclists and people using e-devices is simply not safe,” the letter argued.

Seem to manage crossing roads containing speeding cars/buses/hgv's etc, would have though crossing a cycle lane would be much easier and safer.

 

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Rendel Harris replied to carlosdsanchez | 1 year ago
2 likes

carlosdsanchez wrote:

“Expecting people who cannot see, who cannot move very fast, or who are using mobility aids to step on and into a cycle lane with speeding cyclists and people using e-devices is simply not safe,” the letter argued.

Seem to manage crossing roads containing speeding cars/buses/hgv's etc, would have though crossing a cycle lane would be much easier and safer.

Much of the messaging on this issue (particularly, unsurprisingly, from NFBUK, who seem more interested in campaigning to have cyclists banned from anywhere they might interact with blind people, i.e. virtually everywhere, than in finding workable solutions) has implied that floating bus stops involve passengers stepping directly from the bus into the cycle lane, something as far as I know that doesn't happen anywhere. There is just as much time and space to stop and wait before crossing as there is on the roadside; I think the problem is that some people are feeling that cycle lanes have "stolen" pavement that used to be theirs: "Yes we could stop and wait until it's safe but why should we, this used to be pavement." One can have a certain amount of sympathy with such a view, certainly from visually impaired people; it must be frustrating if you've used a route for years and know it inside out to have to adapt to any new layout. 

A possible solution that occurred to me at the weekend, seeing a wheelchair user press the blue disabled button on a London bus to alert the driver to deploy the wheelchair ramp: why not have the same for visually impaired people so that when the bus stops an audible warning is played from the bus, like the "Caution this vehicle is turning left" warning that lorries have, stating, "Cyclists, caution, a visually impaired person is crossing" or similar. The vast majority of people riding through crossings when they shouldn't are, I believe, thoughtless rather than deliberately aggressive and I'm certain most would exercise proper caution when faced with such a warning.

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chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

Much of the messaging on this issue [...] has implied that floating bus stops involve passengers stepping directly from the bus into the cycle lane, something as far as I know that doesn't happen anywhere.

This design you describe - I'd say far from the best one - certainly exists in Copenhagen.  See this rather lengthy but worthwhile article with examples and photos.  It's referred to there as "Loading/unloading from/to cycle track" but I've heard different terms.  Worth also looking at the "Additional note" at bottom which is a mini-response to the "controversy" about the idea of a bus-stop bypass where pedestrians have to cross a cycle path.

TBH I think this whole discussion is sort of a subset of the "cyclists are dangerous to people on foot!" concern.  Because if there are cycle tracks pedestrians will need to cross them at some point.

Of course that also applies if we put the cyclists on the road... I think roads and motor vehicles get a pass because a) normal b) motor vehicles are (mostly) big and noisy - we don't think we'll not see them (and vice versa) and c) we've accepted formal crossings which require one party to stop and wait.  So the "solution" is seen by many as "treat cycle paths like roads - maybe put in belishas and zebras - or perhaps full pedestrian crossings with lights".

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stonojnr replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
3 likes

Tbf we have this godawful example of one in Ipswich, so they do exist, no idea what the road planners were thinking , the lane ends right after the bus stop anyway.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/zury7WZNnVyPEiuF8

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Rendel Harris replied to stonojnr | 1 year ago
2 likes

Wow, that's terrible and, as you say, pointless given the lack of provision either side. Is there any point in even having a properly designed one there given that it's a one-way road so the main threat that cyclists are being protected from – having to pull round the bus into oncoming traffic – doesn't even exist? I've not seen anything like that in London (yet). 

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ktache replied to stonojnr | 1 year ago
0 likes

Worst of all possible worlds.

What is it with Ipswich, that one on the "high street" opposing the flow filled me with fear.

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qwerty360 replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
6 likes

Doesn't surprise me that NFBUK are almost exclusively campaigning against cycling infra;

NFBUK is a tiny charity; They don't have the resources to be much more than either a local volunteer charity or a single issue campaign group (Quick look on national register puts their size as a rounding error compared to RNIB or Guide Dogs Association.

 

While I have seen RNIB and Guide Dogs Association complain about floating bus stops and other cycling infra, they generally seem to either request specific fixes (e.g. proper tactile markings, sufficient space for pedestrians (shouldn't have to cross live cycle lane to get on/off bus when it stops)) or specific locations where the balance is different (e.g. infra outside their headquarters (bank junction) or major eye hospital where there are a LOT more blind/partially sighted users). They can grasp the concept that no infra is perfect for all users, it is a trade off (and generally the trade off for floating bus stops is in favour of using them.)

 

My biggest concern about stuff like this is tiny groups being magnified by anti-cycling retoric from those with a financial interest (and by definition, car manufacturers advertising budgets mean the entire media has a financial interest in pushing cars) will bury legitimate issues - Have already heard cases of people arguing that infra is bad for blind because RNIB objected, ignoring that 90% of the 'objection' was a consultation response pointing out locations in the plans where tactile paving was incorrect (rotated, wrong type, or completely missing). Resulting in supporters of both groups arguing the toss about something that everyone should approve of (not having to re-lay half the paving because the plans were wrong...)

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Adam Sutton | 1 year ago
1 like

Let me just get my popcorn for these comments. 

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ChrisB200SX | 1 year ago
1 like

How exactly did he remonstrate with the cyclist, that, by his own description, doesn't appear to have broken any law? (You only have to stop once a pedestrian is on the crossing, maybe Seb didn't know that?)

We need a more detailed account and some way to confirm it, given that the story is being used for political purpose, before making judgements.

For a start, it doesn't quite add-up. How did he get punched after the cyclist didn't stop? Did the puncher turn around and come back after not stopping??

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Adam Sutton replied to ChrisB200SX | 1 year ago
2 likes

WOW

Also maybe read the article;

“I stopped, and two of my fellow cyclists didn’t. I then caught up with them and remonstrated with them. And I was punched in the face for my efforts.”

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ChrisB200SX replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago
1 like

Adam Sutton wrote:

WOW

Also maybe read the article;

“I stopped, and two of my fellow cyclists didn’t. I then caught up with them and remonstrated with them. And I was punched in the face for my efforts.”

Thanks, I had missed that bit, still a bit blurry-eyed after the clocks going forwards seems to have only caught me up this morning.

I'm not sure chasing after someone to "remonstrate" with them for not doing anything wrong is the best idea. It does imply that Seb instigated this confrontation so we still need to know how he remonstrated before making any judgements.

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Broken_Chain | 1 year ago
1 like

What did you expect in London?
Maybe you can suggest to your mate KHAN that instead of his current silly ideas he should setup a city wide task cycling force to enforce the highway code on cyclists & legal e-scooter riders. They should have powers to issue on the spot fines and confiscate illegal vehicles.
Fund your Tfl failure through fines to restore some safety back to our streets. NOT through dodgy emissions claims and green lighting council ludicrous neighbourhood zones.

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OldRidgeback replied to Broken_Chain | 1 year ago
7 likes

Khan reduced the debt TfL had been saddled with by his predecessor, one Boris Johnson. Then came COVID 19 and suddenly ridership and income plummeted and one Boris Johnson was reluctant to help bail out TfL with a loan, funny that he? 

DfT data shows that cyclists are no more likely to break traffic laws than drivers but that when drivers do, the risks are so much greater./ Look it up if you don't believe me.

If you're going to make political comments, it does help if you get your facts straight.

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wycombewheeler replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
3 likes

OldRidgeback wrote:

DfT data shows that cyclists are no more likely to break traffic laws than drivers but that when drivers do, the risks are so much greater./ Look it up if you don't believe me.

depends which risks you are talking about

risk of injury to third parties? higher with motor vehucles

risk of media outrage and mass hysterical clutching of pearls? higher for cyclists

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago
8 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

If you're going to make political comments, it does help if you get your facts straight.

Are you new to the internet?  3

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OldRidgeback replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
3 likes

ShutTheFrontDawes wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

If you're going to make political comments, it does help if you get your facts straight.

Are you new to the internet?  3

Nope, just fed up of right wing lies.

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orangecannonim | 1 year ago
1 like

Hands up who likes floating bus stops?
They are a crappy design, that creates a zone of conflict.
Less cyclists killed? (good thing),
More pedestrian/cyclists collisions, (bad thing)
Anyone know how many cyclists were killed by busses pulling into /out of bus stops with good bus lanes?

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chrisonabike replied to orangecannonim | 1 year ago
4 likes

orangecannonim wrote:

Hands up who likes floating bus stops? They are a crappy design, that creates a zone of conflict.

Pretty sure the point of them is to reduce conflict.  Bikes and buses don't mix well.  In the bus lane you may have a bus (and in the UK taxis) up your backside.  They're then possibly trying to pull round you.  Or you're making good progress drafting behind one, then it stops, and you have to stop also or pull out round it (looking over your shoulder).  Then you've got conflict to right / behind AND left (the bus).

The road surface is often bad too - heavy vehicles starting and stopping.

Cyclist-pedestrian?  Because "new" and "not many cycling ATM" you will find people stood in the cycle way waiting in the UK just now.  Properly designed, once people are used to it?  In most locations "conflict" is going to be rare - and simply involve one party adjusting their speed a bit.

I think these people are fine with them in NL.  And also Denmark.

orangecannonim wrote:

Less cyclists killed? (good thing), More pedestrian/cyclists collisions, (bad thing) Anyone know how many cyclists were killed by busses pulling into /out of bus stops with good bus lanes?

I think as all infra it's less about numbers dying - cycling even in UK is very safe.  More that it doesn't feel safe or pleasant.  I know some existing cyclists like bus lanes.  Mostly because there's more space and in the lane with general drivers can feel less safe.  However the potential cyclists of tomorrow just aren't going to feel happy there.

I don't have numbers but these should be findable - this design is old in the UK, never mind in NL / Copenhagen etc. (Ranty Highwayman has a country design comparison).

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Awavey replied to orangecannonim | 1 year ago
6 likes

well Im sure this one might become a topic for next week https://twitter.com/laurencyclist/status/1639556191809404929?s=20

 

but thats why floating bus stops are better, what we dont seem to be getting to understand is why they work in other countries, yet seem so problematic in the UK
 

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Rich_cb replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
5 likes

They're definitely lower risk for cyclists but some of that risk is transferred to pedestrians.

That risk transfer probably disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups so it's unsurprising that some of those groups aren't happy about it.

As to why it's causing an issue in the UK? I'm not really sure, part of it is undoubtedly the 'culture war' which cycling infrastructure has unfortunately been dragged into.

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Steve K replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
2 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

They're definitely lower risk for cyclists but some of that risk is transferred to pedestrians. That risk transfer probably disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups so it's unsurprising that some of those groups aren't happy about it. As to why it's causing an issue in the UK? I'm not really sure, part of it is undoubtedly the 'culture war' which cycling infrastructure has unfortunately been dragged into.

I wonder (genuinely) how much that is a genuine increased risk or how much it is perception?  I do think cycling campaigners need to do more to reach out to disability groups and work with them (and have more helpful lines than simply "but cars" - true that that might be).

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Rich_cb replied to Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like

The data from London shows a higher relative risk of pedestrian KSI from cyclists than motorists at junctions (Caveats: heavily skewed towards SI for cyclists. Absolute risk still low due to low modal share) so anything that introduces more conflict between pedestrians and cyclists will likely translate to more injuries for pedestrians.

Whether vulnerable groups will be overrepresented in those injuries is hard(Impossible?) to measure accurately but I understand their trepidation.

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chrisonabike replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
3 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

The data from London shows a higher relative risk of pedestrian KSI from cyclists than motorists at junctions (Caveats: heavily skewed towards SI for cyclists. Absolute risk still low due to low modal share) so anything that introduces more conflict between pedestrians and cyclists will likely translate to more injuries for pedestrians. Whether vulnerable groups will be overrepresented in those injuries is hard(Impossible?) to measure accurately but I understand their trepidation.

It seems the main problem is the trepidation.  Which I can understand.  Change rarely favours those at the bottom of the pile - which people with disabilities are when it comes to transport in general.

Someone mentioned that the RNIB is engaged with groups looking at this infra - particularly on the bus stop issue.  Apparently there is a different small activist group for the blind who are "no way, no how" though.  But as always it seems the main noise is "selective concern" from those not directly affected.  Presumably for "keep the status quo" / "don't like cycling" reasons.

There's an - admittedly tiny - behaviour study that Sustrans / Cambridge CC did in 2015 (specifically around a couple of bus stop bypasses).  Also found this from 2018 in Edinburgh.

There's nothing to stop anyone digging through potential decades of data from several other countries where these are very common.  (See examples of this infra from round the world, not just NL / Scandi...)  Or even the few ones in the UK. Or even related situations where there is an access road rather than a bike bypass next the bus stop - there are lots of them!  I think mattw mentioned some studies / data - perhaps they have more info?

Going forward in an ideal world I'd hope that the powers that be would look at better data especially more useful coding of crashes and KSIs.  Sadly I'm not hugely surprised at the lack of curiosity in the UK.  Especially around minority groups e.g. vulnerable road users in general and especially those with disabilities.  Road safety is a particular blind-spot for us.  Aspects of safety there which we've long-ago decided are unacceptable in other fields get a pass.  Partly because "we've the safest roads" means we rest on our laurels - problem solved.  There are other reasons why "messing with the roads" is not politically popular of course!

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Adam Sutton replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
0 likes

A lot of that risk comes from the behaviour of what seems a large proportion of cyclists, at least in London, who feel they are above everyone else. Well done both them and those on here defending them and resorting to whataboutery to excuse the behaviour. All they are doing is feeding into the idea that cyclists ARE a danger and flout the law with a disregard for anyone else.

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Rich_cb replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago
4 likes

I tend to agree that we shouldn't excuse illegal or dangerous behaviour by cyclists but with the caveat that a dangerous cyclist still poses less of a risk overall than a dangerous driver.

In terms of absolute risk reduction it makes more sense to target dangerous motorists but if cyclists are given carte blanche to ignore traffic regulations then we'll see a backlash against plans to increase cycling which will lead to reduced cycling and ultimately increase risk for everyone.

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Adam Sutton replied to Rich_cb | 1 year ago
0 likes

Rich_cb wrote:

I tend to agree that we shouldn't excuse illegal or dangerous behaviour by cyclists but with the caveat that a dangerous cyclist still poses less of a risk overall than a dangerous driver. In terms of absolute risk reduction it makes more sense to target dangerous motorists but if cyclists are given carte blanche to ignore traffic regulations then we'll see a backlash against plans to increase cycling which will lead to reduced cycling and ultimately increase risk for everyone.

Absolutely. I just find it irksome that so many seem to want to simply dismiss issues caused by some cyclists that do pose a danger to more vulnerable road users, resorting whataboutery regarding motorists. It does no one, not least cyclists any favours.

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wycombewheeler replied to Adam Sutton | 1 year ago
3 likes

Adam Sutton wrote:

A lot of that risk comes from the behaviour of what seems a large proportion of cyclists, at least in London, who feel they are above everyone else. 

Yes, when the roads are like a battleground for cyclists, then it is no surprise that a larger percentage of those still cycling are warriors.

London is getting better and the number of more moderate people cycling are increasing. 

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