03 February 2012

Blood and Thunder: The Times puts cycling safety firmly at top of agenda

Yesterday's Times caused quite a stir by using its whole front page (right), and substantial amounts of space inside (below right), to launch their campaign to improve cycling safety.

It was prompted by the serious injury sustained by one of the Times journos, Mary Bowers, while cycling. She is still in a coma.

Today's issue has continued coverage of their campaign.

The paper has involved several high-profile cycling names - Nicole Cook, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy et al - and has issued an eight-point manifesto for action.

The eight points, briefly, are:
1 Mandatory sensors and safety equipment for trucks entering city centres
2 500 most dangerous junctions to be identified and fixed
3 National cycling safety audit to be done
4 2 per cent of Highway Agency budget earmarked for cycle routes
5 Cycle safety to be core part of driving test
6 20mph to be default speed limit in residential areas
7 Business invited to sponsor cycleways, as in the Barclays Cycle Superhighways
8 Every city to appoint a cycle commissioner to push reforms

Some aspects of the Times's proposals are open to debate. I'm not sure about point 2's suggestion of 'Trixi mirrors' (right) as a matter of course, for instance (there's no evidence either way on their effectiveness yet, and we can't afford to splash money on unverified measures).

The idea of London's Cycle Superhighways as some sort of best-practice model is arguable, too.

But the fact that a major newspaper has put cycle safety so firmly on the national agenda is excellent, if overdue, news.

I'll be in more of a joke-cracking mood next post, but this is serious stuff.

However, there was one subbing error that made me smile in the Times's 'Covenant for Cycling', in point 1: "Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit censors"...

It does make you wonder what those naughty truck drivers get up to in their cabs to need such moral scrutiny.

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