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.