Whether you’re driving a car or riding a bike, the place you’re most likely to collide with another vehicle is a junction – where two or more roads meet. And given that no one wants to bend their frame, or scratch their paintwork – what can we do to reduce the risk to our vehicles, and to ourselves?
Identify the problem
Nothing demonstrates road safety, or lack thereof, like a video of your daily commute. There are a lot of cyclists in London, but you can’t help but feel there would be a lot more if it wasn’t for these five intersections.
When I learned to drive in Berkshire, just 40 miles from the centre of London, my instructor joked that, once I’d passed my test, I’d then have to learn how to drive in London. If it’s that stressful for drivers new to the English capital’s eccentric roads – imagine how crazy it must be for new cyclists.
Engage your local government
The first stage of addressing a problem is admitting you have one. The great philosopher Thomas Hobbes pointed out that government bureaucracy can be a bit of a leviathan – slow to react, but ultimately very powerful. So, if you know there’s a dangerous junction in your city, let your local representatives know, like this conscientious citizen from Windsor, Ontario.
The Bike Windsor Essex campaign group have done extensive research to remove barriers to cycle journeys in high volume areas. Most importantly, they do a lot of the leg-work so the local government have to do little more than consider their well thought-out solutions.
Remember that everyone uses the road
California’s Redondo Beach intersection was notoriously bad for cyclists, but business as usual for American car owners. Fortunately, the local government recognised the appetite for a segregated cycle path and spent a considerable sum providing one. This is a happy ending, right? Not so fast.
A local bike shop was quick to note how confusing the new layout was for motorists, suggesting that the local authorities didn’t do enough to sign-post the changes for motorists. It’s essential for any town planners to properly consider all road users when making changes to road layouts, for everyone’s safety.
Adopt the right models
Great cycling infrastructure shouldn’t come at the expense of other road users. The Dutch are famous for their cycle paths, yet the Dutch have one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world. The more journeys taken by bicycle results in a better driving experience – here’s how.
Creating safe intersections that are stress-free for both motorists and cyclists is the greatest challenge. Email your local representatives and let them know which intersections you think should be improved.