Friday, 27 March 2015

Cycle Petition

Cycles are now playing a bigger part in our everyday lives. Many boaters own a cycle for ease of access along the towpath. However, there is a gradual upward trend for more and more people to cycle to their places of work. We are all encouraged to get our children to cycle to school or just for exercise and pleasure. This in itself is a good thing and should be welcomed and encouraged. However, cyclists frequently come into conflict with pedestrians when the cycle is being ridden along the pavement. Cyclists can come into conflict with other vehicles when used on the roads.  So for their own safety, its not uncommon to find cyclists riding on the pavement. Cyclists who ride on the footway ‘pavement’ is not the technically correct term are unequivically breaking the law. Bicycles are, in law, carriages (Taylor v Goodwin judgement from way back in 1879) and should be on the road not on the footway.

One issue for everyone is that cyclists who use the roads, footpaths or other public land do not have a requirement to have any third party liability insurance. In the case of an accident involving a cyclist, there can be expensive medical and property damage
claims as well as litigation costs. Yet, at the same time there is third party insurance for cyclists widely available. It can be used to provide cover in defending a claim and any resulting damages that may be awarded. 

Most cyclists with insurance cover, choose to indemnify themselves through inexpensive cover available through cycling organisations. The organisations negotiate the best deals which could include all family cover and pass on the savings to their members. Third Party liability should not be an option for cyclists, but should be a requirement.

An Association of British Insurers spokesman said: 'If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident the chance of you being injured are quite high. Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for weeks, if not months, so some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense. Many people make the assumption that their home contents insurance policy will provide them with public liability cover if a claim is brought against you in the event of an accident.'
The Association of British Insurers also said "Even if you do have public liability cover with your home contents insurance policy. You should check with your insurance provider to see if your particular policy covers cycling accidents and who is covered by the policy, which may be the policy holder only and not all members of the family.'

A second issue is that cyclists do not need to have any form of awareness or basic riding skills training before venturing onto the roads. Motorcyclist for instance have complete a simple one day course of instruction 'Compulsory Bike Training' which helps all new riders to recognise danger and to use and practice certain basic road skills. There is even a National Standard for Cycle Training. However, it is a programme which is only voluntary. It is approved by the Department for Transport, RoSPA, Road Safety GB, British Cycling, CTC, Sustrans and Cycling England. 
Basic riding skills should not be an option, but should be a requirement.

107 cyclists were killed on our roads in 2011. A further 3,085 cyclists were seriously injured, the greatest number this century. Cycle training is an excellent way to improve basic skills and to inspire confidence. Many councils offer access to free or subsidised training. While the National Cyclists' Organisation such as CTC also offer access to the National Standards for cycle training and bike-ability tests.
The third and last issue is that there is no instant identification system for cycles ownership.  A simple identification plate could be displayed in a prominent position which would allow easier recognition and foster a climate of better behaviour. It would allow the police to more easily identify stolen cycles as well as identify and confiscate cycles that are being ridden in an irresponsible way. An additional action would be to allow police to require cycles be maintained to a satisfactory level. Cycle identification should not be an option, but should be a requirement.

MS Money discovered that 27% of cyclists have had at least one bicycle stolen in the last two years. With the average bike valued at £240, they are instant cash on wheels for bike thieves.
These three requirements would help to encourage road safety and awareness, responsible cycle riding and help to establish ownership of a cycle. They would also go some way towards ensuring that cycles are maintained in a road worthy condition. 

ABI spokesman said: 'If you are a cyclist and you are involved in an accident the chance of you being injured are quite high. Some 230 cyclists a month are killed or seriously injured on the roads so there is a good chance you are going to be off work for weeks, if not months, so some sort of insurance to cover you for loss of income makes sense.'

It's the same with the Inland Waterway towpaths or to use the new name that's being bandied about the 'Greenway' and The canal and River Trust greenway code for cyclists. 'A much better description for the upgraded towpath would be urban clearway, where wheeled traffic is not expected to stop.' In many places the towpath is in the process of being upgraded, but rather than what has happened where available space allowed on the public roads. No separate cycle lane is being created. 

Unsurprisingly as a result, the new surface is allowing cycle speeds to increase dramatically. At the same time people of all ages are being encouraged onto the canals as a leisure activity. The members of the public are expected to take their lives into their own hands and share that same space. In a Kafkaesque twist of logic, cyclists are not allowed onto the high speed motorways but the reverse is happening on the towpath. Families with dogs and young children are expected to walk along, a specially prepared, high speed cycle clearway. This is a recipe for disaster - and the trust are well aware of the situation and seem to have abrogated themselves from responsibility for setting reasonable and appropriate set of rules.  

What is being done to mitigate the dramatic upswing in risk. The trust does not even see a need for cycles to have a set maximum speed. Cyclists can with impunity ride at high speed along the towpath. Public parks and other shared spaces around the country do have speed limitations in place. Yet the inland waterways which are a linear park. There is no requirement to even have a bell or other warning device fitted, which is symptomatic of the laissez-faire attitude towards public and boater safety.

There is a petition to the Trust asking then to look at curbing the speed of cycles on the towpath. Click Here

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