is now evident and very visible with advertising campaigns, new visible speed camera vans, the opening of new motorway sections and the reporting of RSA results. There has also been a focus on driver training through enhanced testing and reducing waiting times for tests. Undoubtedly, the NCT has also improved the standard of vehicle in use today. For cyclists and pedestrians the RSA offers “advise” that would be considered basic common sense. Perhaps there is the odd advertising campaign aimed at pedestrians and cyclists (though none come to mind).
The RSA has a responsibility to cyclists, but are they doing enough? When we, as regular cyclists, see overtaking manoeuvres that come within inches of colliding with a rider, or get abused from drivers for riding two abreast when it is legally acceptable then the answer is clear, the RSA needs to do more to protect cyclists. Some very basic, cost effective solutions could serve to educate other road users. Open communication and a consultation process between the RSA and cycling clubs throughout the country could yield some very positive results, though is a more long term strategy that will require coordination and engagement from all stakeholders. The aim of such a campaign needs to go beyond the predictable urban focus and extend its strategies to include rural national and secondary routes. Advertising campaigns tailored to cyclists needs may not be merited based on budget versus risk categorisation according to some, however simple road signage can be developed and put in place for a relatively small cost outlay.
Cycling is the national sport of France and such road signage is commonplace throughout the country. Due to the national status of the sport, drivers in general are far more courteous to cyclists. In the US a number of states are reviewing their laws and as recently as 25 January 2012 Pennsylvania passed a law stating that a driver shall pass within no less than four feet (1.22 metres) of a pedal cycle at careful and prudent speed. This has immense implications in cases of accidents involving drivers and cyclists. Interestingly in the UK The Times Newspaper has launched a campaign entitled Cycle Safe, which is supported by a number of professional cyclists and no less than 6 if their Olympic champions, and also including the current world road race champion, Mark Cavendish. The video on their campaign page is well worth a look.
It is not all about other road users however, we cyclists also have to take responsibility for our own safety. A common sense approach in relation to how we conduct ourselves, coupled with observing the rules of the road, will go a long way towards doing our bit. We should observe traffic lights, stop at junctions, stay on the left side of the road and, although permitted to ride two abreast, should ride single file if traffic cannot pass in a safe manner. We encourage all cyclists to take as much responsibility for ourselves as we can and only then can we demand similar respect from others.
So, is the RSA and local councils doing enough for cyclists’ safety? Is there more that can be done and yet still remain aligned to current strategies and budgets? Should the local authorities take a proactive approach and assume some of this responsibility? These questions need to be asked....