At present the UK is very motor vehicle orientated. A large proportion of the population drives, in fact I drive in situations where cycling is not more practicable than taking the car. But because our road system is orientated around vehicles like the car, the drivers behind the wheel seem to think they own the roads. Some drivers believe that everything else should get out of their way and that we should bow down to them and kiss their feet (slight exaggeration).
For me there has always been a hierarchical system on the roads, a pecking order or food chain. The system which I believe is often thought of by the motorists is as follows (with 1 being the most important)
- Me (the motorist in question)
- Other Motor vehicles
- Cyclists and Pedestrians
As you can see my list puts the self-centred motorist at the top. I see everyday, be it on bicycle or by car, drivers are often very impatient and won’t let people merge into their lane or they tailgate the vehicle in front of them if they don’t think they are going fast enough.
My hierarchy would be as follows (with number 1 being the most important)
- Mobility impaired pedestrians
- Public Transport (buses, trams etc..)
My system puts the most vulnerable road users at the top and the least vulnerable at the bottom. Things like Public Transport should have road space allocated to them specific and people should let them go as they carry many more people than other forms of transportation. The ones lower down on the list should look out for those higher up. But let us not forget that even HGV’s have requirements on the road and as cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle drivers we must look out for them and provide them the space and time they need.
Take a look at the below video of a single junction in NYC that was filmed over several hours. It shows how all road users make conflicts and issues with each other. I suspect that the US has specific issues with ‘road’ users Vs pedestrians as they have specific jaywalking laws.
Roads are often used by many types of transport, often all at the same time. But the way they have been built suits vehicles such as cars the best. From my point of view this causes conflict when you get pedestrians who want to cross the road. In an ideal world a vehicle on the road would stop for any pedestrian as they are near the top of the hierarchy but in reality this hardly happens. As a vulnerable road user we should look out for them and look after them but even our councils seem to do a poor job of managing where they cross and how long they have to wait.
Too much has been given to the motor vehicle over the past 50 years. It’s time we started claiming back our safety on the roads and making them a safer place to use!