The City of London have brought out what they presumably believe to be a charming ‘road safety’ video, entitled ‘Handle Like Eggs’.
The presenter of the video informs us that it is really important we ‘share the streets, safely.’ This is, apparently, because the City has ‘a global financial centre, packed into a medieval street pattern.’
The implication of these comments is that there really is no alternative to ‘sharing the road’ when you are riding a bike; that the City cannot do anything to separate bicycle traffic from motor traffic. Especially on streets like Cheapside, where it is ‘especially important to share safely.’
This is utter tosh. The reason people using bikes are being forced to ‘share’ the road with motorists is because the City has created a street design that pushes the two into conflict. The City Cyclists blog has assiduously documented the history of this £3 million scheme, pointing out that despite claims it will ‘greatly benefit cyclists’, it is actually deeply unpopular. Nobody riding here wants to have to place themselves directly in front of motor traffic to prevent dangerous overtakes, yet this is what you have to do. Likewise it is often impossible to filter on this street when it is congested with motor traffic. You simply have to sit behind buses and lorries, and breathe in the fumes.
This is not a consequence of the ‘medieval street pattern’. It is a consequence of the City creating a deliberately narrow carriageway.
There’s a vast amount of space here, but the City have pushed bike users and buses into the same tiny bit of road.
You can see this same scene in the City’s own video –
The pavement is so wide here, you can see a lorry parked on it, behind the presenter.
Now obviously taking carriageway space and reallocating it to pedestrians is a good thing, in and of itself. But frankly a huge opportunity to create safe and attractive cycling conditions on Cheapside has been lost.
There wouldn’t be any need for videos like this if the street had been designed differently. The impatient overtaking attempts illustrated in the video simply wouldn’t happen. The left hook as the cyclist enters an ASL wouldn’t happen. And, most importantly, there wouldn’t be any need to tell you to cycle in the middle of the road.
The simple truth is that the City have built a street that engenders conflict between people riding bikes and people driving, and have to had to resort to a silly video to try and ameliorate the consequences. If they had just designed the street with proper, protected space for cycling in the first place, it wouldn’t have been necessary.
Sadly I don’t think they are paying attention.