Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Road Rage

I missed the recent BBC documentary on Road Rage. I caught up with it on a promising new site run by Ben Ayers. The documentary is quite shocking, depicting an angry tribal battle between motorised transport, cyclists and pedestrians over road space. It's some time since I was last in London. I'm sure it has changed immensely with lots more cyclists (43% increase since the congestion charge was introduced). I remember the traffic choked streets but not the bikers. The school run is familiar, as in most towns, but the rush hour congestion depicted is not something I encounter on a daily basis, so I count myself lucky.

Road safety challenges were highlighted, including the use of 4x4's on the school run. Cyclists didn't get off lightly with plenty of air time given to the increasing problem of riders not stopping at red traffic lights. This is something I'm seeing more of locally. The cycle cops call these gamblers 'lycra louts' and fine them £30. Whilst there are plenty of arguments from both sides on this issue, proper infrastructure for cyclists would help alleviate the problem. Cyclists will risk shooting across a clear junction rather than wait, vulnerably, in the middle of a junction. It also highlighted the lack of facilities for pedestrians in a culture where car has become dominant.

The program included the story of athlete Emma Jones who was seriously injured whilst cycling in Manchester and now lives in Belgium. The contrast in approach to sharing the roads between there and England is marked.

The low points of the program were the sobering coverage of tragic fatalities of cyclists and pedestrians. Very sad and thought provoking.The high point of the program was an angry feminist whose rage at the 'World Naked Bike Day' was summed up by her observation that the bikes were all ridden by blokes with the smallest willies she'd ever seen. Very equitable.

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