Sunday, 9 September 2012

Forgiving road space

I believe in the importance of ethics and moral values. I think forgiving is important. Probably even much more for the person in question than the one forgiven. As a UK cyclist you learn to forgive. You have to. Otherwise your mind'd be occupied all day, or you may even stop cycling. (Or you may have never taken up cycling as the conflict and the process of constant forgiving feels too unfair).

The way we "run" our roads is flawed with creating conflict situations where it's not necessary. Puts the strongest first. There's little respite for the more 'fragile' road users. It's all rush-rush, fast, chop-chop, quick, nip-nip and very very impatient.

As a cyclist on UK's roads you are either keeping up, or causing conflict by holding-up. The two modes simply don't mix. And please stop talking about confident cyclists! Why? It's grossly missing the point. What we need for mass cycling (that's the ultimate goal isn't it?) is confident and skilled engineers and urban architects.


The problem is that our road space is not forgiving.

And as a result you, the pedestrian and cyclist, have to be. The onus is put on people. Cyclists and pedestrians - squishy and vulnerable on the road - take the slack and brunt of this inadequacy. As a cyclist in Britain you either have "no heart" (nothing can touch you, you cycle through thick and thin, you may not know any better) or you fit into the "protester" category (cycling despite the cycle provision, almost to make a point). I am the latter.

Other countries of course get this right.

They do do their risk assessment - properly - and provide the appropriate physical measure, let that be a cycle lane, a cycle path, a cycle bypasses, cycle-friendly traffic calming and lights, walk and cycle tunnels, etc etc etc. One of the indicators for the existence of a forgiving road system is the types of bicycles that you see.

You start to spot a different kind of bike. More civilised looking ones, less sporty. Possibly like the one below. A work horse. Slow but strong and effective.

The premise is that people do make mistakes. It's human. In a forgiving road space this human flaw is designed in so that the risk is designed out. And the space becomes self-policing. For the UK that means that more safe space must be handed over to cycling, and that's a political issue...

Bless you!

Forgive, forgiven, forgiving.

Cycling in the UK, it asks for constant forgiveness from the weaker road user. This injustice can't be forgiven; it lingers on my mind whenever I get on my bicycle and a long time after I get off my bike.

Our space requires to be made forgiving.

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