Slightly lost, perhaps understandably, amongst the kerfuffle over the deeply strange ‘Share the Road’ campaign endorsed (and then hastily unendorsed) by Bike Radar, was a tweet by David Arditti, who objected to the entire principle of encouraging greater ‘sharing’ (or what Joe Dunckley might call getting people to play nicely).
Basic flaw with campaign @bikeradar: I & probably most other cyclists don’t want to #sharetheroadUK. We want separation
This prompted a small, steady stream of objections from young to middle-aged athletic male cyclists, who are of course perfectly happy cycling on roads alongside motor vehicles, and stated this as their own personal preference. But one respondent went further, claiming that ‘most cyclists want to share the road.’
@VoleOSpeed @bikeradar Disagree. Most cyclists want to share the road. Separation is a nonsensical and dangerous idea.
That is, the majority of cyclists don’t want to be separated from motor vehicles; they want to ride on the roads with them.
That sounds completely reasonable. But just to be sure, there is a simple way of putting this assertion to the test.
We run two ‘Sky Rides’ in central London, on the same day, for precisely 2 hours each, consecutively. The first involves a standard loop on closed roads, free from motor traffic. The only interactions will be with other cyclists and pedestrians.
The second ‘Sky Ride’ will then take place, on exactly the same loop, under exactly the same conditions (hopefully the weather won’t have changed too much). But with one difference. The roads will now be open to motor vehicles.
We should then expect to see the floodgates open. All those cyclists who prefer to ride on roads shared with motor vehicles will then suddenly appear – probably having decided to stay at home until the more enjoyable cycling conditions materialised.
Of course an objection presents itself – the numbers riding around the circuit on the second ‘Sky Ride’ might have been artificially suppressed. Some of the cyclists who, for some bizarre reason, chose to take part in the earlier ‘Sky Ride’ will be tired, and consequently might not wish to take part in the later, more enjoyable, ‘Sky Ride’. So to be scrupulously fair, and to eliminate this bias, we could reverse the order of the ‘Sky Rides’ in a subsequent test.
We then count up the total number of riders choosing to cycle on the ‘closed loops’ and of those choosing to cycle on the ‘open loops’, and you have your results.
Indeed the test could be repeated elsewhere across the country, in any city or town that has ‘Sky Rides’. The two ‘Sky Rides’ will be marketed in precisely the same way, and run consecutively on the same roads. We just have to count the numbers choosing to cycle under the different conditions, and compare.
I am sure you will agree, as would every reasonable person who finds the idea of separation ‘nonsensical’, that such a test would be a complete waste of time. The numbers of people choosing to ride on the closed loop, separated from motor traffic, will obviously be much, much lower than the numbers of people choosing to share the loop with motor traffic. This is because most cyclists want to share the road.
In fact this conclusion is so obvious I don’t think we even need to bother. We have plenty of evidence already, in the familiar form of the tiny, insignificant dribble of people who choose to cycle, separated from motor vehicles, on those rare occasions when they are foolishly offered the chance.