Outbreak of sanity
5.06.08 by Buffalo Bill
According to the Times (and the Telegraph, and the Mail), Kensington and Chelsea is going to trial a scheme that will allow cyclists to ride both ways up a few designated one-way streets. This is different to existing ‘contra-flow’ lanes, where cyclists are ‘protected’ from on-coming traffic by paint or a kerb. I wrote a piece for the Guardian a couple of months ago where I pointed out that the weight of evidence suggests that cyclists are not safer in separate lanes or paths. In the K & C scheme, there will simply be signs showing that cyclists are permitted to ride both ways.
I can’t find a press or news release on the K & C web-site but according to the Times
the council believes that it will be safer to allow them to negotiate their own path past each other.
Daniel Moylan, deputy leader of the Conservative-controlled council, was persuaded of the need to make the change after noticing that hundreds of cyclists a day were ignoring no-entry signs on a street near his home.
He told The Times: “If this is what bicyclists want to do and they can do it safely, then we see it as our responsibility to adapt the legal position to allow them to do it legally.
“We are recognising the reality that cyclists prefer to take the shortest route through quieter streets. The alternative of having a policeman standing on the road to catch cyclists would be foolish and unworkable.”
Mr Moylan said he hoped that the changes would persuade more motorists of the benefits of cycling. “Bicyclists feel they are offered very little in terms of safety and convenience – I hope that our trial will encourage other boroughs and as a result bicyclists will be much freer to travel around.”
This is an extraordinarily sensible bit of thinking from K & C. The contra-flows, whether paint or kerb, cost money, and do not appear to benefit cyclists. This will cost virtually nothing. Of course, various motor-heads think it’s a bad idea, including the AA. Which means that it is probably an excellent idea.
The scheme is particularly welcome because it recognises that existing road traffic regulations are really only for motor vehicles, and should not be applied to pedal vehicles, something that London’s couriers and messengers already knew.