Tag Archives: Road Danger Reduction

The Mayor’s leaky boat – a parable of RPS and 20mph

Settle down while we tell you a story:

Imagine, if you will, the King of Bristol.

He sets sail in a big boat, given to him by a chap wearing red trousers. OK, says the King, I know Red Trousers has given me a leaky boat, but I’m sure it’ll stay afloat for a while.

But to his horror, the King discovers a giant hole in the bottom of the boat as soon as he sets sail. Water is gushing in, and the other passengers are turning mutinous!

The King desperately looks round for things to jettison to stop the boat sinking further, or at least to distract attention.

There’s no dead cat to hand, but then he finds just what he needs! Two heavy-looking boxes put there by Red Trousers, one marked “20mph”, the other marked “RPS”.

Over the side they go.

Some of the passengers seem happy, at least for a while, even as the boat continues to sink…

There are rumours circulating that Mayor Rees is seriously considering scaling back two of Bristol’s most progressive transport policies of recent years: residents’ parking schemes and 20mph zones.

BCyC can only hope those rumours are not true. We feel sure our Mayor would not attempt to gain cheap publicity, and distraction from the Council’s financial crisis, by ditching these two policies which have provided huge benefits in increasing cycle and pedestrian safety and preventing Bristol’s suburbs becoming one huge commuter car park.

Can Bristol Council confirm that any Council-led initiative to scrap or scale back these initiatives is firmly not on the Mayor’s agenda?

‘We need to change our roads so drivers can see cyclists’

How refreshing to read a thoughtful article in a local paper (Cambridge News) about why and how to make everyday cycling normal in the UK. There’s an excellent plan of a proper roundabout that works for everyone. When will we see the first of these in Bristol?

Research shows that we don’t perceive things at the edge of our vision – and that’s putting cyclists at risk, says our cycling columnist

Source: ‘We need to change our roads so drivers can see cyclists’

Author Robin Heydon of Cambridge Cycling Campaign looks at recent research confirming once again the imperfect nature of human perception, and the need for road designs that are forgiving of the inevitable errors, a concept known as ‘Sustainable Safety‘ and widely used in Europe.

The visual system we have appears to just make up the details. Filling in the gaps in our visual field with things that it thinks are there, and ignoring the things that it doesn’t see. So, as you approach that roundabout, you are looking at the car, and the area around the fovea is not seeing the person on the cycle also coming around. And this doesn’t just apply to people on cycles. It would also apply to people walking across a side road as you turn into that side road.

Robin goes on to say that given that we probably can’t change the human brain to enhance our peripheral vision, could we make the roads safer, using this knowledge?

One thing we could do is design junctions where we don’t have to look for multiple, different-sized things near each other at the same time. Roundabouts, for example, that put everybody in the same physical space.

You should also take a moment to read the excellent A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to surviving on the roads.

If Chris Grayling had doored a cyclist in Bristol?

In some areas of Bristol up to 20% of collisions injuring cyclists are caused by motorists recklessly opening car, van etc. doors. In the last six years the police have recorded 139 cyclists being injured in this way – and 18 of them seriously (defined as requiring a stay in hospital (note 1)). Due to under-reporting these figures are likely to underestimate the extent of the problem (note 2). Injuries from this type of incident are caused not only by impact with the vehicle but also, and often in the more serious and fatal cases, when the cyclist is knocked into the carriageway and the path of other motorists.

Safe cycling organisations recommend keeping out “a door and a bit more” away from parked cars, but there are situations where this is difficult, or cyclists feel intimidated, say by fast moving traffic, into keeping close to the side of the road. Some cycle lanes even encourage cyclists to cycle through the door zone and danger, most notoriously outside the BRI hospital.

Note that a number of the injuries were caused by car passengers opening nearside doors to hop out of cars which had paused in congetion.

Whether carried out by a driver or a passenger, it is an offence under section 42 of the  Road Traffic Act 1988 to open “any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person”. Would that include Minister for Transport Chris Grayling?

So what are the police doing to deal with these crimes? Figures obtained by Bristol Cycling under Freedom of Information requests show that in these 139 reported incidents of injury caused to cyclists by motorists, the police brought prosecutions in only 11 cases (9 of them successfully (note 3)). Given the police’s generally low rate of prosecutions for road traffic incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, and given the recent finding that for the CPS even fatal road traffic incidents “no longer enjoy the priority they had in earlier years”(note 4), these figures are perhaps not surprising. However it must be of considerable concern to most cyclists that so many are being injured with so little being done about it.


note 1        Source: Bristol City Council Highway and Transport Management Service.

note 2       Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2013, Department for Transport

                   page 34 “Under-reporting of pedal cyclist casualties”

note 3      FOI responses dated 20 April, 2015 and 27 September, 2016.

note 4      Joint Inspection of the Investigation and Prosecution of Fatal Road Traffic Incidents, HMIC, 2015.

Best Practice Education and Enforcement in the West Midlands

West Midlands Police

worthwhile read from an experienced traffic officer, with quotes such as:

“Once drivers become aware that an infringement involving a cyclist is one they should expect to be prosecuted for, they suddenly become more aware of them on the road, and in turn start giving them the time and space they should lawfully have as an equal road user.”


“Following a period of education … we will have ‘enforcement’ only days where education isn’t an option for those committing close pass due care offences. Hopefully … most drivers should very quickly get the message and … the enforcement only days should be few and far between!”

We find this blog to display inspiring insight.

Are the Roads Getting Less Dangerous for Cyclists? Trends 2003-2015

Important statistics have been published recently concerning road traffic incidents, and the resulting death and injuries, occurring in Bristol during 2015 (Bristol Emergency Hospital Admissions 2003 – 2015)

Key facts for 2015:

Read more ...

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