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City urged to adopt new laws to protect urban cyclists

Eight-point plan to reclaim streets includes commissioner for bikes

Written by . Published on March 13th 2012.

City urged to adopt new laws to protect urban cyclists

WITH petrol around six quid a gallon, more people will be forced to switch to alternative modes of travel. Trains are good if you live close to a station, buses are, well buses. 

After walking, the faithful, push bike is the cheapest option there is. But are you risking life and limb every time you slap on those bicycle clips? 

What is needed is a proper solution – demolish swathes of the entire city and rebuild with wide cycle lanes, separated from generally unsympathetic car drivers with wide, green verges

Liverpool City Council is being asked to adopt a cycling manifesto, first flagged up by The Times newspaper, to make cities safer for bike riders, with a cycling Tsar to ensure the policy is a runner.

Liverpool probably ticks many of the boxes for its cycle routes and cycle lanes. 

A Cycle Lane In LiverpoolInadequate: A cycle lane
in Liverpool
The problem is two-wheel commuters have to rub shoulders (literally) with heavy traffic, and even some of those narrow cycle lanes, essentially roadside gutters, are potentially hazardous. 

What is needed is a proper solution – demolish swathes of the entire city and rebuild with wide cycle lanes, separated from motorised and generally unsympathetic drivers, with wide green verges. But that's never going to happen.

Many of the roads in Liverpool are incapable of being cycle friendly, simply because there isn't enough road space to facilitate proper segregation. 

In another life - and on another continent - I owned three bikes, conveniently parked at strategic points, there when I needed them. Cycling along wide, shrub-lined cycle lanes, looking at vehicles gridlocked in the multi-lane ring roads, the cycle ruled, OK. 

What Liverpool doesn't need is a certificate crowing about its high number of cycle lane kilometres. Each cycle lane needs to be graded – like A routes or B routes, so we can distinguish safe routes for strips of road that are mere excuses for a cycle lane. 

The call for a manifesto comes from Lib Dem group leader Paula Keaveney and will come before the city council on Wednesday (March 14). 

She says would-be cyclists are put off using a bike because of real or perceived dangers. She wants the council's regeneration cabinet member Malcolm Kennedy to sign up on behalf of the city for the eight-point manifesto.

Even if it is supported, it won't have much of an impact. Who can stop cars parking in cycle lanes when it suits them? Where can the space be found to provide meaningful, safe and segregated cycle routes? 

(Click here to add text)On the waterfront (pic courtesy
of Critical Mass
Otterspool Promenade and the river front has become popular with city-centre bound commuters, providing an virtually exclusive off-road route from Garston to the Pier Head. Some of those cyclists, because of their speed, present a danger to pedestrians strolling along the prom. 

What about cyclists who don't realise a red traffic light means they should halt as well. 

One of the eight points in the manifesto is the call for Liverpool to have its own cycling commissioner. That person, if appointed, will only succeed depending on a chain (excuse the pun) of command.

 Sadly, for the forseeable future, the vast majority of commuters will stick to the car.

 Bring in Son of Big Dig, raise parking charges, up the price of fuel to £20 a gallon and it will still rule the roads of Liverpool.

The reason: it's dangerous on those roads. 

Here are the eight points of the manifesto....

1. Lorries entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels. 

Cm 2Pic courtesy of Critical Mass
 The 500 most dangerous road junctions must be identified, redesigned or fitted with priority traffic lights for cyclists and Trixi mirrors that allow lorry drivers to see cyclists on their near-side. 

3. A national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how cyclists are killed or injured should be held to underpin effective cycle safety. 

4. Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for nexts generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision. 

5. The training of cyclists and drivers must improve and cycle safety should become a core part of the driving test.

6. 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes. 

7. Businesses should be invited to sponsor cycleways and cycling super-highways, mirroring the Barclays-backed bicycle hire scheme in London. 

8. Every city should appoint a cycling commissioner to push home reforms.

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39 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

davyMarch 13th 2012.

I agree with all the points of the manifesto, but as a pedestrian I believe that much more needs to be done to make the city pedestrian-friendly. The mistakes made in Wirral, where cyclists often share footpaths with pedestrians, should not be repeated in Liverpool. Cyclists and pedestrians must be properly segregated so that walkers are not endangered by speeding cyclists.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Oxton OswaldMarch 13th 2012.

Pavement cyclists in Wirral are usually track-suited drug dealers. A ratty face, a ridiculous riding position and a soft rear tyre are always giveaways.

Doug PedallerSeptember 25th 2013.

Davy said: "Cyclists and pedestrians must be properly segregated so that walkers are not endangered by speeding cyclists." OR indeed fat and gormless scals who stare, motionless and slack-jawed in the middle of the indicated cycle path when a cyclists is trying use it.

Tracy TwitchinMarch 13th 2012.

I have cycled into Liverpool from Ormskirk occasionally over the past year, on weekdays and at weekends, and on my first occasion, I had more near misses in two hours than I've had in four years of motorcycling. Lorries (and particularly white van men) overtaking too close, cars doing U-turns in front of me. It was a nightmare. Anything that eases the process would be most welcome.

TinkerbellMarch 13th 2012.

It is terrifying. Nobody in their right mind would cycle in Liverpool centre. The city's planners have made it more hazardous by changing the road layouts and traffic flow systems.

I love cycling and, having been a car owner all my adult life, rarely drive now in favour of the bike. But unless the pavements are narrowed or cycle lanes carved into them it's useless for commuting which makes me angry.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
LimpyMarch 13th 2012.

Hear hear! Taking away the central refuges and replacing proper pedestrian crossing signals with new ones that only a contortionist can read (because they point at the traffic and not the pedestrians!) makes crossing the roads in Liverpool city centre take twice and long and far more dangerous.

Dingle BellMarch 13th 2012.

If the Council can't provide proper cycle lanes then I wish they'd just paint over the ones we have because they:
1. Are Too Narrow.
2. Give motorists the idea that cyclists are confined to them.
3. Give motorists another excuse to drive badly down the middle of the road and cause chaos at junctions.
4. Are ignored by drivers, particularly taxi drivers and apes in vans who stop at red lights inside the box clearly marked for cyclists.
5. Are all located in gutters full of nails, drain covers, pot holes, deep pools of filthy water, etc.

Give cyclists the full width of the road! After all it was the cycling lobby that made government in this country bring in smooth road surfaces, before the motor-car was invented.

AnonymousMarch 13th 2012.

It's easy. Japan is full of cyclists. It's full of cars too. Solution? Bikes use the pavement. Riders ring their bells, pedestrians move out of the way - in a tolerant, polite manner - and nobody gets killed. It could work here.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
LimpyMarch 13th 2012.

The trouble is that too many (illegal) pavement cyclists here have neither bells nor manners.

Hillman MinxMarch 13th 2012.

I blame those silly plastic helmets. Cyclists wearing them think they are a licence to ride wherever they like.

Ban them and watch the standard of cycling rise.

Five-yearly driving tests for motorists would make the roads and pavements happier and healthier for everyone.

Badly Bruised Blind ManApril 11th 2012.

The pavements are too narrow for this to happen here.

Where they have been widened (thus narrowing the road making it worse for cyclists) the pavements are cluttered with ridiculous seats for beggars, loiterers and vomiting binge drinkers.

Philip CoppellMarch 13th 2012.

No. no, no, the bike is obselete as a mode of trnsport, it is for leasiure, not for riding on the roads. Cyclying in parks and on courty paths is fine, but not on city roads. Cyclists are the worst offenders for breaking laws, they very rarely stop at red lights, bounce on and off the pavement, cycle the wrong way up roads. The roads in Liverpool are a nightmare for motorists, do not make them any worse by allowing this minority preference and do not spend vast sums of public money creating a cycling commissioner quango. Ban the bike from the city centre, get rid of all the cycle lanes and let's have some common sense were cyclists are concerned.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Matthew BradmanMarch 13th 2012.

In the absence of similar data for Liverpool, the following may tell you something about the odds of a pedestrian being injured on or off the pavement:
Figures released by Transport for London, covering the years 2001-05, show that a pedestrian in London is over 100 times more likely to be injured in collision with a motor vehicle than a cycle. During that period there has been no upward trend in the number of London pedestrians being injured in collision with cycles, despite a 72% increase in cycle use on London’s main roads.

The figures show that, in London during the period 2001-05:
• There were 101 times as many reported pedestrian injuries due to collisions with motor vehicles than with pedal cycles (there were 34,791 pedestrian injuries involving motor vehicles, compared with 331 involving cycles).
• Motor vehicles were involved in 126 times as many fatal and serious pedestrian injuries as cycles (there were 7,447 fatal and serious injuries involving motor vehicles compared with 59 involving cycles).
• 534 pedestrians were killed in collisions with motor vehicles, compared with just one killed in collision with a cycle. That one fatal collision with a cycle occurred neither on a pavement nor a pedestrian crossing point.
• Even on the pavement, there were 2,197 reported pedestrian injuries arising from collisions with motor vehicles, including 17 fatalities. These injuries outnumbered those involving cycles by a factor of 42 to 1.

Raleigh GrifterMarch 13th 2012.

<Doffs cap to Mr. Bradman>

In central Liverpool there is a problem with people far too old to be riding bicycles on the pavements like small children, cutting erratically through crowds, doing 'wheelies' and oblivious to their surroundings because they are wearing i-Pods. Bizarrely despite breaking the law they go unmolested by the forces of law and order and Storey's secret police of Council wardens who find it easier to persecute lone female smokers dropping fag ends.

And I wish the Council would make a decision on whether Lord Street-Church Street is legally a pedestrian area or a cyclepath or both.

AnonymousMarch 13th 2012.

I commute through Liverpool city centre everyday (Crosby to Childwall), and with some careful thought, and some strong road positioning, it's not as life-or-death as it might seem. I do however agree that vast improvements could be made - the cycle lane in the picture, which ends and leaves bikes facing oncoming traffic is insane.

I also thought it shortsighted that a recent resurface of Regent Rd (dock rd) included no additional lanes for cyclists despite this being an excellent straight road from the City to Bootle.

...and before Mr Coppell asks, I stop at red lights and only ever ride on the pavement when it's shared use.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Dingle BellMarch 13th 2012.

Just be grateful that the Council planners didn't narrow Regent Road into a pair of narrow, lanes full of crawling vehicles like they have in the rest of the city centre. Cyclists find it is much quicker and safer to dismount and wheel their bicycles on the pavement.

TinkerbelleMarch 13th 2012.

Philip Coppell, I do not want to pedal around parks, I have better things to do at the weekend. I want to be able to exercise on a daily basis, without joining a stupid gym - which I also do not have time for -and do my bit for the planet. In short, I want to be able to ride to my place of work, or shop, on my bike - without being told I have "asked for it" if I get injured by a careless motorist.

Most cyclists who get killed or hurt do so by vehicles turning left. Think about it. Who is to blame?

AnonymousMarch 13th 2012.

I commute each day by bike - 3000 miles a year - that's about 300 litres of petrol (£400). Sorry, I don't know how to work out the carbon saved. Some cycle routes are pretty good, but too often, badly maintained - a pot hole on a bike route in the dark is a lot more dangerous than on the road. The main problems I have interacting with cars are at junctions. Cars, trucks and the new cyclist-killer-bendy-buses often don't notice cyclists alongside them - and if they don't indicate....
Cycle routes and preserves at traffic lights would help a lot. Also, I know it's frustrating being caught in a traffic jam - but it won't get you any further by swerving right over to the curb to stop bikes getting past. You know who you are!

Colette ForrestMarch 13th 2012.

My husband is a fearless, 365 days a year cyclist and always says that, if we had a lot more people on bikes, many traffic lights would no longer be needed! He'd also support a congestion charge for the centre of Liverpool, say from a mile out. Surprised local politicians have not thought about it!! In rush hours, he is usually faster than motorists on the 7 miles from/to Liverpool on his bike. Now that he is over 60 and has a travel pass, he often takes his bike on the train on longer journeys. He's also surprised that Liverpool has never set up continuous park and ride facilities for cars, using electric buses and in sway 3 or 4 places a mile or so out of city. These would mesh in well with a congestion charge and make the centre a healthier place. And he could go on ad nauseam about the persoanl health benefits of cycling, which he sees as multitasking, getting somewhere and keeping fit at the same time! Get out of your cars and get trim! x

Carl StevensMarch 13th 2012.

@anonymous There's the £400 you save and the cost of the car, the insurance, the road tax (assuming you don't have a car an can manage to shop locally or do a weekly delivered shop from any supermarket).

Liverpool city centre is lethal for cyclists as are most of the main arteries to it from the suburbs.

Merseyrail has introduced lock-ups for bikes at every station, which is part of the solution, but there are still many problems for others logistically with that.

Large old chopperMarch 13th 2012.

Get out of your car and you will never regret it - until you are mown down by some unthinking idiot. Don't blame cyclists, we were here before cars. How dare you say it's an outmoded form of transport.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Philip CoppellMarch 14th 2012.

Because it is.

Pedal carSeptember 25th 2013.

And my dad can fight your dad.

Lord StreetMarch 13th 2012.

The problem is that too many motorists think of their cars as an extension of their living room or even bedroom.

They resent the requirement to drive with due care and attention for other road-users and even park on the pavements to make sure that they are a danger to everyone.

AnonymousMarch 13th 2012.

Hillman Minx r u crazee? LOL

AnonymousMarch 14th 2012.

Motorists hate, totally hate, despite, cyclists. Would have them shot on sight if they had their way. Solution - introduce sin bins for thoughtless motorists. Make them sit in 'naughty bays' (adequately marked as such) for say an hour or two, reading MoT publications, such as the Highway Code or possibly a politeness code. Instead of banning careless drivers, offer then a cycling option. If we are serious about encouraging more cycle users we should make it safe and easy. It isn't rocket science, it isn't even pedal science. Motorists will not share the road with cyclists, so create decent cycling lanes where we don't have to suffer them.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Philip CoppellMarch 14th 2012.

And naughty cyclists, what would you do with them?

The Way ForwardMarch 14th 2012.

Naughty cyclists could be put with the naughty motorists and then they could all be strung up from street lights at prominent junctions as a warning to others.

It's the only language they understand.

AnonymousMarch 14th 2012.

Cyclists using public road should have to have number plates and insurance, though not have to pay any road tax. An insurance levy could be used to fund proper cycle lanes.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Darth FormbyMarch 14th 2012.

Yeah! And pedestrians too!

PedallerMarch 14th 2012.

As a high percentage of cars are being driven illegally without insurance it hardly seems fair that honest, law-abiding but skint cyclists would be made to stump up under your silly scheme.
The antisocial cyclists who cause most of the anti-bicycle outrage simply wouldn't bother to pay in any case.
Who would enforce it? Who would pay the cost of enforcing it?
Have you seen a doctor?

AnonymousMarch 16th 2012.

Perhaps I should see a trick-cyclist!

AnonymousMarch 26th 2012.

It should also be considered that a large number of regular commuter cyclists are likely to have at least some form of 3rd party liability insurance, be it direct or through a cycle club.

chaingangSeptember 25th 2013.

Why should they? There is no legal requirement for cyclists to have insurance. The money would be better spent on lights for their bikes.

Urbane CyclistMarch 14th 2012.

I have tried cycling around Liverpool city centre and it is an exhausting and infuriating pursuit.

As most of the smaller roads have been cut off or made inpassible by one-way systems it is virtually impossible to cycle directly to where one wants to go unless one breaks the law by riding over pavements.

As I am law-abiding I simply haven't bothered to try it again as I end up walking everywhere pushing my bicycle which is a flipping nuisance.

True, cyclists are permitted to ride in bus lanes but as buses no longer go anywhere useful (and only by very circuitous routes around the hilly centre) this is rather a worthless privilege.

AnonymousMarch 14th 2012.

So what are the council going to do about it. Nothing I'll warrant...

Tim Mobbs shared this on Facebook on March 14th 2012.
Mersey MouthApril 5th 2012.

Hi, There is no need for new laws to ensure cyclist's safety, just concideration by the Powers That Be. Politicians-spineless, Planners-brainless, Police-gutless! Sadly all fall prey to the idea of a nice cars being chief aspirational aim. This being the case they become myopic to the damage that their dream toy causes for those who choose not to wrap themselves in steel. Pedestrians & Cyclist use our roads by Legal Right, whereas motor traffic is there by Conditional Licence, the main condition being Lawful Compliance! As someone who sat on an advisory panel on such matters as the safety of vulnerable road users, I can tell you that even when those charged with care in that area get it badly wrong, they never rectify their bad work unless you have them over an absolute legal barrel! Only if you can prove that they failed in a clear legal way will they even cnceive the possibility of them having goofed. Sad but all too often true. Hence those awful new "Pedestrian Crossings"? Pedestrian stopper more like!

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