More than just red lights

So Jon Snow’s been snapped playing a little fast and loose with the traffic law. Whoop, te, do.

On the one hand, I have some sympathy with the CTC’s reaction, albeit a broadly ad hominem reaction of "he was busted, but there but for the grace of God goes every other road user, including all the reporters who worked on the piece." Of course they are probably right, but Matt Seaton is equally right when he writes;

all this does is reinforce the widespread popular view of cyclists as both behaving badly and acting with an obnoxious sense of entitlement and totally unearned moral superiority

On the whole, I agree with him, but he does a disservice when he suggests that because we have lots of new cycling related investment we (as if there is a corporate-we in the cycling world – I don’t see much espirit de corps on the roads on my commute) that cycling should sit down, shut up and be thankful, dutifully obeying the laws in gratitude to finally being paid a little bit of attention.

This is just a bad a reaction as the CTC’s (or the Daily Mail’s victimisation of something which is, frankly, normal for the majority of road users, whether on 0, 2, 4 or some other number of wheels).

All this alleged benefits for cyclists has affected my life barely one jot. Does Boris’ new cycle superhighway make my commute easier? I use miles of both the CS7 and the CS3 every day, yet it hasn’t changed any attitudes. Motorists still park in it, motorbikes are still in the ASLs, busses still squeeze past, cyclists still ignore the red lights, pedestrians still wander their ways around without a care to anyone. A splash of blue paint just makes the roads more slippery after the occasional rain.

In general advanced stop lines aren’t particularly useful: motorbikes assume they are allowed in there, the approach markings are frequently blocked, there are rarely any handholds, so the unclipping and clipping in just keeps in the target zone for longer. Bike parking is occasionally handy, but only if it is married to actual security. An acquaintance had his bike stolen from a rack outside a building which has 24/7 security guards. When he asked them why they didn’t intervene, apparently it is against their rules, even saying “oi” to a bloke with big bolt croppers isn’t allowed in case the thief takes it badly. Fine security theatre.

I stop at red. I get annoyed at those who don’t, but I understand them. You want to make cyclists’ lives better? It’s not all about safety, it’s about not impeding me for non-obvious reasons.

I was interested to read a TfL report recently which was investigating shared use zebra crossing. In amongst the preamble was an interesting factoid;

The Traffic Management Act 2004 requires that, subject to other policy objectives, highway authorities take steps to minimise delays for all road users including pedestrians and cyclists. Signalisation can create delays to both traffic and pedestrians if the traffic conditions do not justify them.

Wow.

Who knew? That sounds like most of the traffic lights I pass on my commute route.

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More than just red lights

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