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LCC organiser slams 'Share The Road'
23.04.07 by Buffalo Bill

Ralph Smyth, London Cycling Campaign borough co-ordinator with responsibility for the City of London, has slammed Transport for London’s new campaign to reduce the number of London cyclists killed by HGVs (lorries).

The latest (third) poster in TfL’s share the road campaign has now started appearing at bus stops. It is supposed to raise awareness between lorries and cyclists and has been welcomed by LCC among others:

The poster shows a lorry indicating left with a cyclist on the inside of the lorry – the front wheel of the cyclist is roughly level with the rear axle of the lorry. The cyclist is in a narrow cycle lane, about 1m wide, though it’s difficult to tell as the cyclist and
probably the lorry have been photoshopped on. The text reads:
“Take care Lorry drivers, take care when turning left. Cyclists, be aware of large vehicles. Always look out for each other.
Share the road, we’ll all get along better”

I have two very serious objections to this poster:
1) The poster shows a cyclist in THE most dangerous position possible, one which the National Standards for cycle training advise strongly against.
2) We need more than just “share the care” stuff, raising awareness, etc. We need to make those who take danger on the streets to take some responsibility and change their driving, slowing down or even giving way to vulnerable road users at conflict points.

This is the third of three share the road posters which shows
substandard cycle facilities. Of the three such posters, one shows a cyclist almost certainly disobeying a stop line (ie breaking the law), while this and the other show a cycling in positions cycling training teaches you not to take. Why has no one picked this up?

This poster appears to show (but it’s photoshopped so hard to know) a lorry which has just “overtaken”* a cyclist then immediately turning left. That in itself in current law would probably count as the offence of inconsiderate driving (not that I’m aware of any such prosecutions unless there’s serious injury or death) as the driver is forcing the cyclist in the cycle lane to stop/slow down so as to let them do their manoeuvre: it should be the driver stopping and giving way, waiting to turn until they do not have to force a cyclist to slow down or change position. Let’s not forget what the Highway Code says “Do not cut in on cyclists [illustrations] 159: When turning keep as close to the left as is safe and practical give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction.”

overtaking suggests fully passing another road user, too often the driver, particularly of a large vehicle, gets their front past a cyclist, then ‘forgets’ about the cyclist. Anyone got any ideas for a better expression? “Cutting up” is a bit too informal.

I think this “Share the road” campaign is dreadful, this latest
poster is the worst yet as it is effectively asking cyclists to sign
their own death warrant. It should be contrasted with the new
British Waterways campaign for considerate canal cycling which is excellent. Rather than simply ticking the “doing something” box and “raising awareness” amongst cyclists about pedestrians or simply telling cyclists to “take care”, it actually tells you what to do: slow down, pass people only when it is safe to do so, give them space, etc

A poster campaign getting people cycling to use more eye contact, signal, respect zebra crossings, smile even would be great but the first priority is to deal with lorries. The poster should remind drivers in particular of large vehicles not just to look when turning but to:
i) drive slowly (30mph limit is really inappropriate for a lorry on most London streets),
ii) look properly (as in not just glance) and regularly in their mirrors,
ii) to slow down and take extra care when turning,
iii) not cut up cyclists or not cut up pedestrians already crossing the road and instead be prepared to give way.

In other words be based on reducing road danger not promoting “road safety” but that clearly would be far too radical for TfL and upset any market research they might have done.

“Share the road” should be just that, giving each other road user
safe space and consideration. Compliance with rules is something else, something that should be dealt with in another campaign. The slogan is being recuperated by TfL who do not have sufficient imagination to do anything but repackage traditional road safety messages with this slogan, meaning that it will be difficult for progressive people to use the slogan to explain let alone push for a culture of consideration that we want to see in order to transform the use of motor traffic sewers – London’s streets – back into
public spaces.

Some people think it is always better to “do something” than nothing to help “raise awareness”. I beg to differ. In particular here, how can we expect people starting to cycle to do so safely if they see these posters? This campaign is as foolish to education as the 1m wide lean-in cycle lanes it promotes is to engineering. Let’s campaign to get this poster banned and a true share the road campaign started, such as this.

All seven London bicycle messengers known to have been killed whilst working died as the result of collisions with HGVs.

See also: a joint statement from the Cyclists Touring Club, London Cycling Campaign and Roadpeace on Share the Road. It calls for more training for HGV drivers, and calls for the most dangerous HGVs to be excluded.

  1. Funnily enough I just saw this article in the London Lite today about how it’s safer to run red lights. This comes from the Tfl.

    The article is here

    Ludwig    24 April 2007, 20:45    #
  2. ‘cut across’, rather than ‘cut up’? it’s close enough for people to know the one means the other, is simply descriptive and isn’t slang. can be emphasised with adverbs ‘cut sharply across’, ‘cut abruptly across’, ‘cut across without warning’, ‘cut across without looking in the bloody mirror’ etc.

    — gacetillero    25 April 2007, 23:49    #
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