I READ with interest your coverage of cycling and safety ("Scheme aims to change behaviour on roads", The Herald, July 29, and Letters, July 30, 30 & August 1).
Having just returned from Berlin, a city in which "almost all motorists are cyclists" in the words of one local resident, it is clear that Glasgow falls far short of the standards of a modern European city.
Hiring a bike and cycling on busy, unfamiliar roads in the German capital, I felt far safer than I have ever felt on the familiar roads of Glasgow. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians there generally treat each other with respect and courtesy.
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Segregation of motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, with adequate provision of space for each mode of transport, reduces conflict and antagonism between road users. A system of well-designed traffic signals, with separate lanes and signals for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, with priority for more vulnerable road users, encourages respect for rules of the road that are lacking here.
Underpinning the infrastructure, strict liability laws protect cyclists from motorists and pedestrians from all other road users, whether on the road or the pavement. With barely a helmet or item of high-visibility clothing in sight, in a well designed environment it is a pleasure to see parents happily carrying children on the backs of their bikes, or cycling alongside their children rather than ensconcing them in motor vehicles.
Returning to Glasgow, I am ashamed to imagine how any Berliner must view our city's transport infrastructure. City planners here have utterly failed to provide a safe environment for all road users. The council and Scottish Government should commit to implementing proper infrastructure for the city and planners should visit Berlin (or Amsterdam or Copenhagen) to learn how a modern city should be designed.
Dr Geraint Bevan,
3e Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow.
I HAVE followed the passionate - and sometimes shrill - debate on cycling safety in The Herald with interest. Nowhere, though, have I seen any recognition by the cycling lobby that it needs to put its own house in order before loading strict liability on to drivers.
In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "stupid is as stupid does", and my guess is that there is the same proportion of dim-witted and reckless cyclists out there as there are motorists. (Topping the list of the latter's offences is driving without dipped headlights in anything less than perfect visibility.)
It is folly for cyclists to venture on to our crowded and inadequate roads without high-visibility clothing (or belt or bandolier), effective lights and a bell. On country roads in particular, cyclists without the first two dice with injury or death. They are effectively invisible and put an unfair onus on drivers, who are right to reject strict liability until cyclists accept more responsibility for their own safety.
I have tried to persuade the Scottish Government to legislate on visibility, lights and bells, so far without success, but any forward-looking local authority could surely initiate its own campaign at modest cost.
1 Alder Grove,
AS a non-car-owner, my main means of getting about are walking and cycling. While I think identifying bicycles is problematic (Letters, August 1), I do think cyclists should have to have either a bell or a horn (and use it when coming up behind pedestrians.) I regularly use Route 7 of the National Cycle Network for walking or jogging, and I am frequently overtaken without any auditory warning by speeding bikes. One false step to the side could mean a serious injury to both myself and the cyclist, and damage to the bike. Like one of your correspondents, any suggestion to "use your bell" is usually met with a mouthful of abuse.
82 Bonhill Road,
I DO not pretend that all drivers are blameless, but they are not responsible for every incident. Recently I was waiting behind two cars at traffic lights showing red in Giffnock. Each driver was indicating that we intended to turn left. In the right-hand lane alongside there was a van so I could not see what traffic was crossing from the right. A cyclist overtook us and rode straight through the red lights. As he did so there was a loud horn blast from a car which appeared across the front of the van, driving properly through the green lights. The driver obviously braked fiercely and swung his car to the right, thereby managing to avoid the cyclist who rode on without any acknowledgement of the skill of the driver who had just saved his life. This habit of cycling through red lights is so common that it is obvious that a proportion of cyclists are unaware that the rules of the road have any relevance to them. A larger proportion obviously do know the rules.
Cyclists must learn to use cycle tracks where they exist. The A77, a single carriageway with two-way traffic between Newton Mearns and Fenwick, has a very good cycle track running alongside which is not well used by cyclists.
On a recent journey going southwards I saw two groups each of eight cyclists then a single one riding north on the carriageway. There were also two on the cycle track. On the southbound carriageway there were three cyclists with another one on the cycle path. Why?
I think that all parking of vehicles, except emergency ones, on cycle tracks should be banned, though it would take time to organise this.
There are people with faults in each category and it is wrong to have a blanket ruling that the driver is always wrong.
1 Langton Gate,
IN view of the pressure to introduce presumed blame or liability on to car drivers where any accident occurs, what safeguards would there be against a possible new wave of crash-for cash claims?
In the event of an incident between a pedestrian or cyclist and motorist, where there is no independent witness willing to offer their time for the motorist's defence the insurer involved is exposed to possibly extreme and fraudulent claims.
Increased costs for everyone seem likely whether through increasing premiums or having to purchase in-car CCTV systems to prove innocence - unlike simple assault, robbery or murder where guilt must be proved.
I have walked, cycled then motorcycled and driven cars and vans for more than 40 years but know that no one group is blameless. It is wrong to change laws to protect absolutely any one group to the detriment of another.
14 Hilary Crescent,