Archives For Speed limit

What are we missing?

February 21, 2012 — 14 Comments

The Times #cyclesafe campaign has taken off massively over the past weeks. With support from sporting stars, politicians, huge companies and thousands of people.

The campaign raises similar points to other campaigns, touching on topics such as trixie mirrors, issues with large vehicles, re-design of junctions and speed limits. The difference so far is that it has been coming from a huge newspaper and not from a cycling lobby.

But are we missing something?

The one thing missing is a way to change road user attitude. I see the Times mention training of drivers and cyclists and to include a cycling specific section in the driving test. Whilst yes this would be a good measure, it doesn’t solve the millions of drivers we already have on our roads who are ‘bad’ drivers.

So what can we do? Essentially we need better policing on the roads. At present people are allowed to get away with bad driving if nobody in authority is watching and if no collision occurs. Because they aren’t brought up on it, this leads to bad driving become a habit and essentially normal driving.

Speeding is bad driving

As Croydon Council recently put on a sign around the corner from me. ‘Speeding is bad driving’. They put this on a road which is well-known for speeding road users. It’s nice and wide, with a pedestrian footpath on only one side which is also separated from the main carriage way by traffic islands and another small roadway. So people feel like it is OK to speed. In my +10 years of using this road, as a cyclist, driver and passenger, I’ve not once seen a police vehicle on it that was going after speeding drivers.

Usually, unless there is a fatal or serious road collision due to a speeding vehicle, local authorities will not put in speed cameras, and even if they do, they are of the type which are static, highly visible and only slow drivers down for a few meters. Only a few years ago hundreds if not thousands of speed cameras were turned off around the country because they cost too much to run.

Adding brand new cycling facilities is all well and good but they are useless if they aren’t enforced by the police or if all road users aren’t educated about them. We can see an example of poor implementation, enforcement and education by looking at advanced stop lines. A large proportion of ASL’s have vehicles in them which shouldn’t, which just makes the whole reason for them pointless.

It took years to make drink driving unacceptable, fines and points is not enough to deter people from doing something. Driving bans are much more effective. Driving whilst on the phone is just as dangerous as driving whilst over the drink drive limit, yet the penalties are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum which makes driving on the phone appear to be less dangerous and more socially acceptable, which it shouldn’t be.

We obviously need to change certain things to make the road network safer for all road users but I think a big aspect we are missing in current campaigning is increased enforcement of road users, continued education throughout driving ‘career’ and changing the underlying attitude that British road users have.

Motorcycles in the bus lane

December 22, 2011 — 11 Comments

Yesterday TFL announced that motorcycles will now be allowed to use all bus lanes in London.

Previous to yesterdays announcement motorcycle use of bus lanes in London was on a trial basis, the second of its kind. Both trials lasting 18 months and on selected sections. This was to gain an understanding on the effect of allowing them to use the bus lane.

Collision rates in bus lanes in the second trial decreased by 5.8 per cent for motorcyclists and by 8.5 per cent for cyclists when compared with the first trial

Safety in numbers, as long as two wheelers stick together and don’t squabble about the space then I’m sure people will be more aware about us in the bus lanes.

In line with this increased enforcement, the average speed for motorcyclists in bus lanes reduced by 6.5 per cent during the trial, with the proportion of motorcyclists exceeding the speed limit decreasing by one fifth (51 per cent in September 2010 down to 41 per cent in September 2011).

41% of motorcyclists still speeding in the bus lanes? Seeing as how that was enforced by the Police, it shows just what sort of problem we have on our roads. People see speeding as acceptable even with the dangers of the bus lane.

Another study by TfL indicated that journeys made by motorcycles using bus lanes were, on average, more than 10 per cent quicker than those not using bus lanes and 36 per cent quicker than cars

It was quiet clear already to know that using the bus lanes is faster than sitting in a queue of cars. Seeing as how I can often keep up with a few motorbikes and mopeds over a few miles of bus lane and stop starts at traffic lights, 36% faster is a pretty good figure to hear. Now if only a bus lane went from my house to my work place.

As long as motorcyclists are aware that they need to share the bus lane with us (that is a two-way street) then I don’t have too much of a problem with the idea. But if they start behaving like the examples below, it is going to be a problem!

You can find out more information about the previous study here.

BE THERE!

The LCC sent out a newsletter yesterday with information about the next Blackfriars bridge flashride. Giving us plenty of warning about the next date to try and attract as many cyclists as possible. It’s important that we show up in numbers to show just how important it is.

TFL has shown their true intentions very clearly, they are car centric, in a city which already has awful congestion problems and pollution problems. They want people to get as quickly as possible from A to B whilst they are in their cars. This in turn puts cyclists and pedestrians in danger as they increase the speed limit and decrease the space we have to use.

It’s time for action, cyclists in the city and ibikeslondon have been pushing this forward for quite some time, but they and the rest of us need help from everyone to protest against this, even if don’t use this bridge. It is important to come along and add to the protest, if TFL win this ‘war’ then who knows what they will do to us next!

Show your support on the LCC page and by turning on Blackfriars bridge on Wednesday the 12th of October at 5.45pm.

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 Roads are Un-policed!

January 11, 2011 — 9 Comments

I asked my self the other day when was the last time I saw a traffic police car on the road driving around? hmmmm… I thought long and hard but couldn’t give my self a definitive answer. Either they are doing a great job of hiding but not catching anyone or there aren’t any.

With the lack of Police patrols on the roads, drivers get away with speeding, drink driving and using their mobile phone whilst driving. In the case that they do get caught, the fines and penalties are not large enough to stop them from doing in the future. And as the motorist is aware that there aren’t many patrols, they know the chances of getting caught is slim.

I see people breaking road laws on a daily basis and not once do they get caught, they put other road users at danger and can serious hurt or kill innocent people. But how can we solve this problem?

More police on the roads.
That’s right, if we put a bigger police presences on the roads, then people won’t act like idiots all the time. They can use unmarked cars to blend in with regular drivers and catch people red handed. With more police on the roads and more fines given out, it will mean that the points system will actually work. As you have more of a chance of getting caught then you are more likely to get points and reach the limit. This will mean that over time, the people on the roads will be the safe drivers.

Fines relative to income
A £60 fine is nothing to someone driving around in a £60,000 car who earns more than £200,000 a year. I suggest that we do what Finland do and fine people relative to their last known income. This will help cover the costs of the extra officers required to catch offenders.
In finland a fine was handed out for €170,000 (£140,000) to a driver that was going around 45mph in a 30 zone. The police in the UK could make a comfortable living if people were charged that much.

CPS need to give decent sentences for traffic crimes
The amount of times I see a news report of a conviction given to a motorists for killing an innocent road user and the sentence is below poor. The fine isn’t high and they are only in jail for a few years and if they get a driving ban, it often runs along side the jail sentence which often means by the time they come out, they are allowed on the roads again.

But is it really the polices fault that driving standards are so bad? Well it kind of is, if the roads are un-inforced then people get away with bad driving a few times and then they continue to do it. Lets not forget how people learn to drive, the test isn’t particularly hard and the theory you are required to ‘learn’ is often forgotten as soon as they have passed the theory test.
As a cyclist I would like to see a section of the test that is devoted on how to drive around vulnerable road users and the duty of care they should have towards us.
At present drivers are put onto the road without any real experience around cyclists and the mentality of most drivers is that the speed limit is in fact a target. What the often fail to see is that over a set distance a bicycle can actually be just as fast and that rushing past us actually gets you no where.
I also think that there should be some re-testing involved , everyone 5 years you should have to go back and take your test to prove that you know what you’re doing and you haven’t picked up any bad habits.

Driving is a privilege and not a requirement or should I say, driving should be a privilege. I myself am a driver, and I know what sort of damage my vehicle could do to someone, because of this I take care when I’m driving and I look out for other road users.

Recently, Martin Porter QC (A cyclist and a helmet camera user) called out for courts to do more to protect cyclists after the tragic death of former boxer Gary Mason.

I don’t claim to know anything about how the Police work, my ideas about funding and more staff to catch more drivers may be a wild dream that is never practical, but we can all have our little perfect world.