How to protect cyclists in UK
London’s mayor has called for an outright ban of headphones on cyclists. He said ‘Call me illiberal, but it makes me absolutely terrified to see them bowling along unable to hear the traffic.’ Cycling with headphones on impairs the cyclists, and he believes that prohibiting their use will improve the safety of cyclists.
However, Mike Cavenett of London Cycling Campaign was doubtful, saying ‘I’d like to know what kind of evidence base the mayor is using. I’m not aware of a single fatality where headphones were implicated.’
While bike helmets are slowly being adopted by cyclists themselves, a team of Canadian doctors have suggested upping the ante by introducing protective body armour.
The suggestion came after a study on injury patterns sustained by 258 cyclists over 14 years revealed that ‘Almost half of the injuries we noted were either to the chest or abdomen, suggesting that greater physical protection in those areas could also help reduce or prevent serious injury.’
Study co-author Dr Chad Ball recommended the use of a chest protector alongside the helmet. But Cavenett said that the danger among cyclists was inherent as long as heavy vehicles and cars are driven at speed.
Elevated cycling routes
Segregation through the construction of cycle superhighways in London has been suggested by campaigners. Exterior Architecture founder Sam Martin said ‘Any long distance bicycle commute would be less likely to encounter large heavy goods vehicles if we are able to build a few of these elevated cycleways.’ His firm proposed SkyCycle which has specific entry and exit points throughout the city.
Alliance for British Drivers said that the idea could work, but that adding cycle lanes on the road can increase vehicle congestion. They added that costs of the project can also inhibit its implementation.
Scrap traffic lights
Advocates of the ‘shared space’ idea have said that traffic lights and other road signs dull the motorists’ sense of responsibility on the road. An open-plan space, on the other hand, will teach pedestrians, cyclists and motorist respect on the use of space.
But Cavenett said the controversial scheme will only work in areas where vehicles move at low speeds and where there is minimal traffic. However, a project in Poynton, Cheshire is proving that the idea can work.