As a peak oil and climate site we like to encourage cycling. As the particulate crisis deepens one way to combat this is to encourage walking and cycling. I have just heard on the BBC radio 4 “You and Yours” consumer programme that so far this year there have been no cycling fatalities due to lorries in London. All new trucks entering London have to be fitted with extra mirrors and side guards to prevent cyclists being pulled underneath. And all lorry drivers apparently have to spend half a day cycling in London as part of a driving safety course.
There was a time when I was a student when I cycled in London (without a helmet). It seems suicidal now. I was knocked off by a woman in car to turned left across me. She was more worried that I might have scratched her Merc than about me. In those days there were few of us cycling on the road in London, now there are loads. I was happy to overtake buses and lorries on the left and we used to see turning right as the main hazard. No longer. Most fatalities involving buses, lorries and cyclists involve the cyclist being squashed on the left hand side of the vehicle. I’m an increasingly cautious cyclist.
However, it should be said that lorry drivers cannot hold all the blame. Cyclists cycle without due care and attention and give cycling a bad name. Its amazing how many cyclists I see jumping lights (though few cycling on pavements). Its difficult to say why so many more people are cycling. Its certainly quicker for short trips around town, keeps you fit and builds fitness into your daily routine. Increased environmental awareness could be another reason, as could the rise in the oil prices. For whatever reason there are a lot of people just jumping on bikes and peddling off, which is never a good idea. We suggested in our book you did not do this but instead linked up with one of the many cycling pressure groups who run training courses on how to cycle safely in cities. As a keen cyclist I want to encourage the maximum number of people to cycle, its a wonderful way to get around. However we need to do it sensibly.