THE risk to Susan Swarbrick's life and limb would about 20 times higher if she didn't cycle or take equivalent exercise ("Chain Reaction", Herald Woman, April 19).
As a cyclist, even in car-centric Scotland, she can look forward to a longer and healthier life, both mental and physical, than those adopting "passive travel".
Her experience with red-and-white-van-man shows the need for the Pedal on Parliament ride on April 28. The Government is being urged to tackle this attitude of superiority and dominance from some drivers, which puts people off enjoying the many benefits of cycling. The recent debate in the Scottish Parliament showed that cycling is now taken seriously across parties in Scotland, but the Government still needs to take the actions which will allow cycling to flourish and numbers to reach their own commendable targets.
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It was mainly the women in European countries, who wanted to be able to cycle with their kids to school and the shops, who challenged the growing dominance of the car some 30 to 40 years ago and who now enjoy high levels of cycling. At the same time in Britain the "great car economy" was being promoted, with its invasive infrastructure and cycling marginalised, which led to so many of our individual and environmental ills today.
Reducing the amount and speed of motor traffic and making junctions more cycle-friendly, which are all established government policies, would go a long way to allowing women to be the majority of everyday cyclists, as they are in places where cycling has become the preferred choice for getting around.
CTC Councillor – Scotland,
70 Ingram Street,
WE may all agree that spending more money on cycling facilities should make cycling safer and increasing the number of cyclists on the roads could improve their safety. However, when accepted wisdom is put forth in such general terms it is a good idea to examine it critically. A higher level of funding should result in improved cycling facilities both on and off road but only if they are carefully designed and based on experience and commonsense.
For example, advanced stop lines (bounding red-coloured "reservoirs" in which cyclists can wait at traffic signals at the head of the traffic queue) with left-hand feeder lanes to enable them to reach the reservoir are generally welcomed by cyclists, and being cheap are favoured by highway authorities. That feeder lane however invites cyclists to ride close to the kerb along the nearside of motor vehicles, putting the cyclist at risk of collision with carelessly opened passenger doors; and if the motor traffic starts up before the cyclist has reached the advanced stop line he or she is at risk of being overtaken and crushed under a nearside rear wheel as a vehicle overtakes and turns left across his or her path. The invitation offered by the feeder lane contradicts official and unofficial advice never to ride along, far less overtake, motor vehicles (particularly long ones) on their nearside.
The reservoir itself, while giving cyclists a head start when the traffic signals change are also a source of irritation for a motorist who can find his position at the head of the queue usurped by one or more cyclists who have successfully ridden up the feeder lane and parked themselves in the reservoir. Add to this a greater number of cyclists on the roads with no guaranteed space for their progress, forced to move out to pass motor vehicles parked legally or illegally along the side of the street, and the aggravation can only increase.
Is there any politician who would support the introduction of strict civil liability, regardless of fault, being imposed on drivers who collide with pedestrians or cyclists? Motorists in continental Europe have lived with this for years. It is something the Scottish Government could introduce independently as legislation affecting liability falls within its devolved responsibilities, yet so far its response to increased cycling fatalities has been no more than a "summit" which emitted the usual platitudes.
1 East Clapperfield,
The Pedal on Parliament protest is a laudable intention to draw attention to the cyclist on the road to reduce their dangers through some form of legislation. The recent sad deaths of cyclists in Edinburgh highlight the problem.
Bicycles and motor cycles are dangerous and vulnerable modes of transport. A large number of drivers fail to see them for many reasons: thicker windscreen pillars in vehicle design, drivers who approach a junction incorrectly looking left first and creeping out, then looking right. Perhaps cyclists could make a significant step towards their own safety by installing mirrors, correctly aligned as happens in other countries. Here, many cyclists turn their head back to see what is behind, before a manoeuvre. Whilst doing so, they are blindly driving ahead unaware of traffic complications.
W D M Irving,