Archives For Article

Speed Cameras are Pointless

January 31, 2011 — 5 Comments
A GATSO speed camera

Image via Wikipedia

The GATSO camera, the most common in the UK, is the most pointless device for catching and dealing with speeding motorists. They only catch the idiots that don’t notice them and they only succeed at slowing down the traffic to the limit at their location.

In the middle of 2010, a few councils across the UK decided to announce they would switch their speed cameras off. Much to the pleasure of the motorist. Stats from Swindon’s shut down show very minimal decrease’s in casualties and seriously injured, but is this a good enough reason to scrap the speed cameras?

The main reason for the switch off is the government cuts to the Road Safety Grant, which funds the speed cameras. It seems that some small changes in road casualties are another reason but in reality we will need to see a stronger change over a period of time, rather than a small change over a year.

In the past week the BBC reported that most speed cameras in the England and Wales aren’t functional. A freedom of information request was put in by Which? magazine.

47% worked at any given moment in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales.

Its study also highlighted big regional differences, with all 60 cameras in Sussex working compared to just 10% of Lancashire’s 287 sites

Which? also did a survey of nearly 2,000 people and they were split as to whether speed cameras made the roads safer.

47% saying they did and 45% disagreeing.

Speed cameras make people think about their speed, but in doing so, they may be distracted from hazards in front of them.

The one time I notice all road users obeying the speed limits is through average speed check zones, these are most often found on motorways or busy/large A roads during road works. But why not apply these along roads where there is an issues with speeding in general?

Speeding on Britons roads is a big factor in crashes and casualties, we should kill our speed and not one another. Removing or keeping our common GATSO camera will not affect how the vast majority of motorists speed daily.

The Red Light Jumping Gods

January 27, 2011 — 9 Comments

Any sensible cyclist knows that breaking the law is a big no no. It gives us (cyclists) a bad image and can potentially be dangerous.
Each day I see several cyclists whizz through lights with no consequences.  Which is good, i don’t wish harm to anyone but sometimes it’s good to see them fall foul of a common issue for cyclists, such as your chain coming of your chain ring.

With the current changes taking place at the CTC, many members are looking for somewhere else to join to get their benefits.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) have been the cyclists friend in the past few years, giving us support and agreeing with us on topics such as primary position.
It’s come to the point where IAM have teamed up with John Franklin, the author of Cycle Craft, and written a book called  How To Be A Better Cyclist.

IAM recently started offering a membership scheme for cyclists which offers:

  • The book “How to be a better cyclist”
  • IAM Total Cycle Assist policy, looking after you and your bike whilst on the road and in the even of an incident
  • 10% discount vouchers for Halfords
  • Hi-viz draw string bag
  • Other exclusive IAM discounts services
  • Regular e-newsletters

The IAM Total Cycle Assist policy has been around for several years and it offers you, all your bikes and your direct family coverage.  You get access to a 24/7 help line for immediate expert assistance, which isn’t actually 24 hours a day, it’s actually only 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and the rest of the time you get a voicemail. You’ll get a brand new bike if your own is damaged beyond repair, this is on a like-for-like basis. They also offer £100,000 legal expenses insurance cover, private physiotherapy and treatment.

The membership costs £15 which is half the cost of the current CTC membership which is approaching £40. I could see a few cyclists moving over to this, just to see what it’s like. The only problem I see is backing a charity which is so car pro. You expect when you join the CTC or similar, you are aiding in the running of the group/charity for improving cycling for all of us but will we get the same if we join the IAM or will they put the money in the general fund which will go to the vehicle based activities?
Not that funding the IAM in general is a bad thing, they do great work and they want to make the roads a safer place for everyone.

You can read more about the IAM cycling membership here

The latest episode of Silly Cyclists has just been released.

In this episode we see a few submissions from other cyclists, undertaking lorries, overtaking busses and left turning lorries.

You can watch previous episodes of Silly Cyclists here.

TFL released a press statement yesterday stating that cycle journeys have increased by up to 100 per cent during peak times on route 7 and 3.

The headline is a bit misleading unless you look at the numbers and the smaller print at the bottom. The 100% increase was only on a few sections of the routes (these sections are not mentioned) and the real increase is more around 70% with the CS7 (A24) seeing a jump from 2724 in 2009 to 4092 in 2010 and CS3 (A13) seeing a jump from 1388 in 2009 to 2932 in 2010. These where taken during a 12 hour period and where both done in October.

What we can’t tell is how many of them are new cyclists, it may just be that the extra 70% of cyclists that are on these routes have just migrated from another route near by because they now feel safer with the larger number of cyclists.

So whilst it is clearly positive that we see such large numbers of cyclists on a single route during a 12 hour period. There may not actually be any new cyclists on the route.
Lets also not forget that the A24/A3 has been a popular route for cyclists to get to the city for quite some time now, and I suspect that CS7 was chosen as one of the first routes to be a pilot as it would be very hard for it to fail.
What will really tell is how the next 10 Cycle Superhighways do on improving the numbers.

60 per cent of cyclists said the blue coloured surfacing made them feel safer. Overall, more than three quarters asked said that the Barclays Cycle Superhighways had improved safety for cyclists.

If only it was the case that we where safer in the blue lanes. I’m afraid that in some situations the cycle superhighways put cyclists in danger by taking them next to parked cars and leaving them to cross a busy lane just outside oval. The cycle lanes don’t stop people from driving like idiots on the roads and until that behaviour is sorted no amount of paint will make us truly feel safer.
The later section of that quote leads me to believe that motorists believe that the blue lanes make us safer, hopefully not because they think we now have a defined place on the roads along these routes. As I often find I’m in need to leave the superhighway and take control of the road due to a pinch point or obstruction of some sort.

Lets not forget that the superhighways are not just about blue paint and that TFL and the local councils have done a fantastic job of improving the routes for cyclists (even if it isn’t quite at the level we want).
There are 40km of new or improved cycle lanes, 94 new or improved ASLs at least five meters deep, 46 signalised junctions improved to provided quicker journey times and create more space for cyclists, 39 safety mirrors installed at junctions, 2,372 new cycle parking spaces along the routes and 1,362 extra cycle training hours delivered.

BUT we are missing some important data in this press release with regards to traffic and public transport along side the cycle superhighways.
What effect is there on traffic?
Is there a decrease in the use of cars?
Are the buses/tubes/trains quieter?