Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Damned Lies and Cycling Statistics

Simon Jenkins in the Standard seems to have written exactly the same article that Andrew Gilligan did yesterday in the Telegraph. Maybe they've been hacking each others phones? Both articles sound rather like sour grapes: they're afraid that The Times' campaign on 'cities fit for cycling' may be onto something.

Jenkins starts off claiming the roads are safe, casualty rates are getting better even if the absolute numbers aren't, and, as if it were the clincher, "in 2010 the number [of cyclists] killed fell from 13 to 10." Wouldn't it be terrible if the number went up to, say, 16 in 2011? Anyway, for more detail I refer you to the answer I gave earlier.

Jenkins, like Gilligan, then goes off on in ill-informed polemic about Exhibition Road and shared space and stuff. He finishes by saying:

"Remove lights, repave crossings and 'spill the city into the street' and drivers slow of necessity. Dutch experience supports this. But it needs someone with guts to do it in London. The pity is that the regulation-loving, public-spending Times can only resort to more control. The real message of the street is that control is unsafe, that less is more."

Jenkins has forgotten something (as well as knowing very little about the subject). Exhibition Road cost £30M, courtesy of the largesse of Kensington and Chelsea council taxpayers. Removing lights and repaving crossings isn't as cheap as you think, and in any case,  it's not a solution you can use on major routes unless you really want to disrupt traffic flow. That's really getting into the realms of fantasy. If Jenkins had bothered to read the shared space literature, he would know that space only gets shared where motor traffic volumes are low enough. And if he knew anything about the Dutch experience, it's not about less control. On the contrary, there are lots of controls both to keep motor vehicles away from cycles, and to keep motor vehicles out of residential areas - the shared spaces that he seems to think are free-for-alls. In fact, as I write this I'm realising it will simply take too long to refute and correct all the nonsense in this article - it's like trying to review an article about brain surgery written by Katie Price.

1 comment:

  1. I moved back to London in November after living in Amsterdam for 11 years. Jenkins seems to know something that I do not about Dutch roads, as his assertions about Dutch experience bear no relation to mine cycling in and around Amsterdam almost every day I lived there.

    Sadly I am rather afraid to cycle in London, as I have absolutely no experience of dealing with HGVs and negotiating tricky junctions simply because I never had to do it in those 11 years. I never had to worry about being left hooked by a turning lorry, not because of traffic calming but because a) I could mostly go about my way in a segregated cycle space and b) when I was not segregated junctions are designed to protect cyclists.