Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No Cycling in Dean's Yard Westminster

Dean's Yard is a nice little cut-through in Westminster that enables the crafty cyclist to avoid Great Smith Street. It's a beautiful little square in the old precincts of the Westminster monastery, which today forms part of Westminster School (responsible for bringing us Nick Clegg - thanks for that).

Only they've now banned cycling...

It appears that Dean's Yard is private property and has only permissive access. I have not researched what the legal position actually is. According to the man in uniform, cyclists have been running into pedestrians.

I have no idea how much of this is due to actual incidents and how much is petty jobsworths who don't like cyclists: I suspect it's a combination of the two. There are quite a lot of pedestrians around, many of whom seem oblivious to the fact that it's a road, and part of the problem is the barrier at the Victoria Street end making a bottleneck. There seems to be a general attitude in the UK that if there's a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian, the presupposition is it's the cyclist's fault and therefore ALL cycling should be banned, whereas if the collision is between a pedestrian and a car, it's the pedestrians fault for being in the road, and perhaps barriers should be erected to keep 'em on the pavement and out of the way. Any restrictions on cars are deemed to be unfairly catching 'innocent motorists'.

This isn't that big a deal. For me it'll be quicker to go down Great Smith Street, if rather less pleasant, and in any case the Yard is closed quite early in the evening. However, this does tell a familiar story of cycling in London. As a cyclist, you're either ignored or made unwelcome. Cycling is normally not considered, but when it is, it's seen as a problem. When it comes to law enforcement, comparatively minor offences committed by cyclists are cracked down upon with disproportionate zeal, while motorists are free to speed, chat on mobile phones and stop in ASLs unmolested by the forces of the law. Cyclists are caught up in restrictions intended for motor traffic because no-one of influence in Westminster Council can be bothered to consider the effect on cyclists. All of these individually are petty annoyances, but it's the sheer number of petty annoyances that scales up to a large deleterious effect on cycling.


  1. Many years ago I was cycling Northwards in Kingston-upon-Thames Market-place [before it was pedestrianised] and I hit a pedestrian. She was one of a number of pedestrians on the pavement when I saw her and I was on the road [where I normally cycle]. She didn't look, stepped into the road and walked without looking across my path. I slowed to let her cross, and if she had continued on her way or stopped where she was, nothing would have happened. However, what next happened caught me completely by surprise. She emerged from her little world, became aware of my presence and to my amazement she leapt backwards into my path. I had almost stopped when I collided with her.
    I consider it to be her fault entirely.

    If she had stepped-out in-front of a car, because of the higher speed, she would never had time to cross its path, and would most probably have been killed or seriously injured. Instead, I suspect she just got some bruising to her leg from the front rack of my Hercules roadster.

  2. You might find the stats below obtained from the City Police about road accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists:

    ""Road Traffic Casualty Statistics are normally quoted for the last three years as they change over that period for a variety of circumstances.

    For the period 1st September 2007 to August 2010 we had 333 reports of Pedestrians being injured in collisions on the highway. Of those, 3 were Fatally injured (2 in Pudding Lane where the vehicle rolled back down the hill, and 1 in Bishopsgate by Middlesex Street), 52 were Seriously injured, and 278 Slightly injured.

    8 were injured by the actions of a Licensed Taxi driver.
    9 due to the actions of a motorcyclist
    15 due to the actions of a Cyclist (4 Failing to Conform to ATS and 4 Failing to conform to another sign)
    19 were injured by the actions of a car driver,
    27 by PSV drivers, (16 struck by PSV's mirror),
    35 by HGV drivers (15 struck by HGV's nearside mirror) , and
    219 Pedestrians were considered to have caused the collision. Of those, 31 stepped into the path of a vehicle having consumed intoxicating liquor, 5 failed to heed a traffic sign, 1 had taken drugs and stepped into the path of a vehicle. On 4 occasions the cause was not identified, and on the remaining 178 occasions the pedestrian had stepped into the path or side of a vehicle without looking.

    During the same period of time there were 319 reports of Cyclists being involved in collisions. Of those, 1 was Fatally injured (at Queen Street Place), 43 were Seriously injured and 275 were Slightly injured.

    7 by Motorcyclists
    19 by PSV drivers,and
    20 by Pedestrians stepping into the path or side of the Cyclist without having looked,
    50 by Goods/HGV drivers,
    52 by Licensed Taxi Drivers. 8 where the driver made a U turn , and 13 were the passenger door was opened and struck the Cyclist.
    81 where the Cyclists were considered responsible for the collision. 6 having consumed Intoxicating Liquor, 6 having failed to comply with ATS, 6 having failed to comply with a traffic sign, and the remainder relating to a loss of control or movement that brought them into conflict with a motor vehicle.
    89 were injured by the actions of a car driver.

    224 Mototrcyclist were injured during the same period of time. 21 were Seriously injured and 203 Slightly injured.

    4 were injured by the actions of a PSV driver,
    4 were not ascertained,
    6 by the actions of a Cyclist,
    26 by Licensed Taxi Drivers, 8 making a U turn, and 4 by the passenger opening a door.
    28 by Pedestrians stepping into the road without looking,
    37 by Goods/HGV drivers,
    58 due to the actions of the Motorcyclist, and
    61 by Car drivers.

    Christine Phillips
    Ward Constable ""

    You will see that cyclists and PTWs are the cause of about 1/4 of their own accidents while pedestrians are the cause of about 2/3rds of theirs. Also:
    • More cyclists were injured by pedestrians than pedestrians injured by cyclists (20 against 15)
    • Ditto cyclists v motorcyclists although the difference here is not statistically significant
    • More motorcyclists were injured by the actions of pedestrians than vice versa (28 against 9)
    Sure these are figures for the City, but I imagine can't be so far off the pace for Westminster.

  3. I really doubt that the authorities at Westminster would have gone to the time, trouble, and expense of holding meetings, getting signs made, etc. etc., unless some cyclists were causing a nuisance. And if it is private property, I expect they have every right to limit who uses it, and how.

    I am a cyclist and do not own a car. Sometimes the real "enemy" is not motorists, but other inconsiderate cyclists, so let's focus the blame in the right direction.

  4. @PaulM - thanks, very useful.
    @JdeP - I agree there are inconsiderate cyclists, and I never condone inconsiderate road use by anyone. As this is private property it is a special case. However, you'll notice the same double-standard at work on the South Bank, where they're trying to ban all cycling because of a small number of nuisance cyclists. The same principle doesn't apply to motorists, otherwise motoring would be banned London-wide. Motoring is a universal human right, whereas cycling is a privilege, and all cyclists will be punished for the actions of a few.