Thursday, 8 January 2009

Another Cyclist Killed

On Tuesday we learnt of the death of a young cyclist following a collision with a car on the Portway at the junction with Sylvan Way (below). Today we learn that the cyclist was the 29 year old son of a veteran Bristol Councillor, Peter Abraham. A needless death is always tragic for friends and relatives, especially when the victim is so young with so much to look forward to in life. But so many of us know Peter Abraham in some way, even if only from the odd picture in the local paper, that the grief will be widely felt in Bristol.

Nick Abraham's untimely death as a cyclist is, regrettably, not such a rare event. Just a few days earlier a female cyclist suffered serious injuries when run over by a car near Clevedon, last month a 39 year old cyclist, Paul Conley, was killed by a car while cycling into Bristol on the A370 and over last summer a 58 year old cyclist, Peter Taylor, was killed in collision with a car on a country lane just south of Dundry and another the victim of a hit-and-run motorist near Cribbs Causeway.

There are also hundreds of less serious but nevertheless sometimes devastating injuries being sustained by Bristol cyclists, often as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. It is too early to start apportioning blame in the most recent cases, but there are general indications of a fundamental problem when motorists and cyclists co-exist on roads where higher speed limits apply, as was the case in all the examples cited.

All roads, except motorways, are cycle and pedestrian routes, even if the number of such users is relatively small. As such all roads must be managed and maintained in a manner that is consistent with their safe use by pedestrians and cyclists. That is a legal obligation for the local authority. Above all that means containing speeds, with effective enforcement, within the limits of what is compatible with the safety of the most vulnerable users even if it is inconvenient for those protected by metal shells.

Bristol's Cycling City project is hoping to encourage many more people to cycle. To do so without first addressing such fundamental safety issues would be irresponsible.


MJ Ray said...

I contacted Avon and Somerset Police to ask why they keep reporting the cyclists colliding with the cars, even when the cars run the cyclist over. They've replied to ask for my name and address. Huh?

I've heard accusations that the police are failing to enforce speed limits and general traffic law on the A370 in that area. I'll be waiting to see any inquest results with interest.

Chris Hutt said...

The police have to report these incidents in a way that leaves open the question of culpability and they refer to collisions and incidents rather than 'accidents' to avoid giving the impression that it wasn't anyone's fault.

Even then the Evening Post insist on changing the wording of the police reports to say 'accident' where the police might have said 'collision' or 'incident'. I'm trying to persuade them to desist from this (any support would be appreciated).

It's quite difficult to describe such incidents in completely neutral terms, especially when the public may interpret these things differently to what is intended.

MJ Ray said...

Sure the police should be neutral, but clearly said "a female cyclist collided with a Land Rover" which - if the Post is accurate - seems to be the reverse of what happened. They've phoned me to say they're looking into why they wrote that.

DocSavage said...

the point made is all too obvious to everyone except the people behind cycling city.
My serious concern is that their (ill thought out)rush to 'double the numbers' of cyclists will be done in a way that only satisfies the paperpushers and box tickers, but does nothing at all to move towards a fundamentally safer environment for the cyclists that ALREADY use the roads. yes, get more kids on bikes, yes, get first timers out there cycling, but for gods sake listen to the invaluable opinions and views of the existing riders too.
Perhaps the team behind CC should listen to their core constituents a little more.
As for the Evening Post? well the blinkered and frankly bigoted online responses that they seem all too keen to illicit keep on coming. Even following the tragic news about the latest cycling death, their contributors saw fit to slag off cyclists for all the usual cliched reasons.

I ride the Portway on a regular basis and it is with alarming frequency I am passed by cars driving at much higher speeds than is permitted on that stretch. Speeds which mean they would have little or no time to recover if caught unawares.

My sincere condolances go out to the family of this chap.

Glenn Vowles said...

A well phrased post Chris.

When will councils/govt genuinely put pedestrians and cyclists as transport top priorirty??

Anonymous said...

That's democracy for you. Not until such time as we are ever in the majority.

There's a catch22 somewhere in there.

sued said...

DonaQixota, you're right. The BEP is heavily instrumental in fostering the negative image of cyclists and cycling. The fact that most road fatalities are caused by cars - whether speeding or not - is somehow overlooked. The publicity given to death caused by cyclist/pedestrian collisions confirms the rarity of such events, but unfortunately just reinforces the idea that cyclists are all nutters. The critical mass tipping point in favour of pedestrians & cyclists is a long way off. the Cycling City project, like the Environmental city nonsense, is looking more and more like a paper exercise.

Chris Hutt said...

I think we have to learn from the past. Mass produced motor cars have been around for about 90 years, but it is only within the last 40 years that motorists have constituted the majority of the adult population, so for the first 50 or so years motorist were a small minority yet gained a dominating position on the roads at the expense of non-motorists, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands in the process.

So being a minority doesn't necessarily mean being side lined. Cyclists, although a small minority, can and do organise to represent their interests. Pedestrians however are strangely reluctant to organise despite still being a majority group. If pedestrians and cyclists got together, buried the hatchet and pursued a common agenda, much could be achieved.

I think our priority should be to recognise our common interest in containing the car and work together. We want cycling to displace cars, not pedestrians. How about remodeling 'Cycling City' as 'Cycling and Walking City' for a start?

Paul Luton said...

We need to be careful with talking about "cycling and walking" as politicians will think in terms of trips of half a mile at speeds of 4 mph.
I have always found pedestrian organisations rather hostile to cyclists - I suppose that having driven to an off road path they then object to wheeled vehicles.

Sideburn Magazine said...

this morning there was 'T-bone' scenario on the Gloucester Rd in Horfield. A bloodbath.
Not sure of the final score. The delivery driver at Somerfield who was near the scene told me
"...the cyclist went into the car & through the windscreen..." which implies an onus on the cyclist, when the simple arithmetic is obviously the reverse.