19 JUNE 2017


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Article from BTNews 19 JUNE 2017

COMMENT: National Cycle Week

Let the forthcoming Queen’s Speech introduce cycling laws. 

With all the mayhem over the past seven days, both heart-breaking and political, it has probably escaped you that it was National Cycle Week.

Let us make one thing clear. Business Travel News is not against cycling, or cyclists. It is a very good way of keeping fit, perhaps anti-obesity, and certainly environmentally friendly.

But is cycling PR getting out of hand?

Just recently, BTN editor-in-chief Malcolm Ginsberg had a confrontation with a person on a two-wheeled self-powered transport. That individual, without helmet, had certainly gone through a red light, and may have even been going in the wrong direction on a one-way street. That someone was admonished by a third party, only for the response to be expletives.

The culprit in this case is not typical. Dangerous driving is an offence on the statute book. Does this refer to any road user?

We have every sympathy for cyclists involved with accidents caused by dangerous or poor street sense by other road users. 

The previous mayor of London spent millions on the so-called cycle highway, with the internal Hyde Park road around the Serpentine a typical example. Other than using up more road than it needs, the problem here is that drivers in the left-hand lane of the roadway going south are faced at night with cyclists to their left with lights fully on! It can be blinding.

A main road out of Plymouth experienced recently was reduced to a long single carriageway with a wide (and empty) cycle lane. Drivers were frustrated with no chance of overtaking cars travelling at some miles per hour under the legal limited. Many local roads have so-called cycle lanes which in fact are perfectly legal parking places. A complete waste of effort and money local councils could use to better effect. White line painters making hay.

Cyclists are not forced to have insurance. Nor to wear helmets. In the cycle city of Amsterdam, you will recognise out-of-town two-wheelers by the fact they for the most part wear protective head gear. Locals fail to do so. But that is a Dutch problem.

In this country cyclists, do not make any contribution to taxation with the exception of VAT on their machines, although it can be claimed back as a legitimate business expense. 

Cyclists cannot exist without roads, or for that matter the NHS. Third parties should be protected against damage caused by cyclists and they in turn need some sort of authority in pursuing other road users alleged to have caused them damage. British Cycling runs a scheme which offers coverage up to £10m for as little as £22 per annum, and there are other commercial packages available.

BTN sympathises with the problems caused by potholes, but cyclist should contribute to their repair.?

According to a survey in Ireland, only 41% of people wear lights, 39% wear helmets and 29% wear reflective gear.

BTN says cyclists should be registered for a fee as their contribution to our roads, with both helmets and insurance made compulsory. At one time, car seat belts were not required. There were the usual "Big Brother" moans when a law was introduced, but now we take it for granted. It would be the same for helmets.?

The government has a majority. Let the forthcoming Queen’s Speech introduce cycling laws. Surely, without going into politics, it would make sense.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

David Wilson,

@DavidBentley When you\'ve some actual facts to back up your opinions, come back to me... Here\'s some for you: cyclist do pay for the road network via the same means as everyone else - general taxation. And 90% of cyclists own a car anyway IF a "vehicle tax" did pay for roads (my car costs £220 p.a.). Where you get 9 out of 10 cyclists ignore red lights, I\'ll never know - perhaps you can cite a study?

Phil Harper, London, UK

What complete tosh. In the interests of fairness, please provide someone who actually has facts and not ill-informed opinion the space to respond to this rubbish. Yes, some cyclists do break laws, but so do many drivers and cyclists are unlikely to injure people in the same way that rogue drivers of 1-tonne metal boxes do. Compulsory helmet legislation is proven to reduce the amount of people willing to cycle. And the more people that cycle, the less people clog up the roads in polluting vehicles.

David Bentley, United Kingdom

@David Wilson. So its called vehicle tax now, we know what it is and what it's for. Churchill died in 1965, what significance does what he said have in 2017? "Studies have shown drivers drive closer to those wearing helmets, and helmet wearers can increase risks." Rubbish. I agree with BTN. Cyclists should pay for the administration of the traffic network like everyone else and specifically for cycle lanes, which most of the time aren't even used.

Dave Reid, Reading, UK

> BTN says cyclists should be registered for a fee as their contribution to our roads, with both helmets and insurance made compulsory. As pointed out above, cyclists make as much contribution on average to UK roads as car drivers do. Or does my riding a bike render me exempt from Income Tax, National Insutance and VAT? As for wearing helmets, we could debate that all day, in fact while we're at it, why not make them compulsory for pedestrians, too? And car drivers have to have insurance because of the potential damage/injury a motor vehicle can cause to third parties, whereas cyclists typically pose no danger to anyone except themselves. Very disappointing to see BTN spouting this kind of Daily Mail claptrap. Stick to aviation, Malcolm.

David Bentley, Oldham, United Kingdom

Nine out of 10 cyclists jump red lights as a matter of course. I saw one almost killed doing it last week. He just gave out the same expletives to the driver who had miraculously managed to brake and swerve in time. The government is pathetically weak where their transgressions are concerned. Why? It’s the environment, innit? The same warped thinking that caused councils to overlook spending thousands of pounds on sprinkler systems in tower blocks in favour of spending millions on environmentally-friendly insulation.

Alasdair McGregor, London

As a cyclist I frequently witness instances of dangerous cycling so can see your point of view. I choose to wear a helmet and have insurance. However, I do not agree with your point on taxation. Road tax is related to emissions- many modern cars with low emissions have £0 road tax and still pollute and take up road capacity. Cycling is a cleaner and more efficient use of scare road capacity than driving, especially in congested cities. Punitive taxation will do nothing to encourage mode shift from cars to bikes.

Edward Harrison, Yeovil

What has this got to do with business travel? Get off your high horse and bring us some real news please.

David Pryke,

Not really sure why you are using your site as a soap box.

John Devaney, London

Several red rags to cyclists here. Just three: Cyclists are legislated for and the police will fine red-light jumpers if they see it as a priority. Cyclists pay for road maintenance as much as car drivers; that's not what "road tax" is for specifically. And when adjacent to oncoming traffic, are car headlights just as likely to dazzle?

David Wilson, UK

"Cyclists do not make any contribution to taxation". Wholly, completely mis-informed. Of course they do, as much as any car driver, bus passenger, train commuter. Roads are paid from general taxation. The term "road tax" was abolished by Winston Churchill as he didn\'t want motorist believing they owned the road. In any case, a cyclist pays by emissions the same amount as an electric car. I.e. Nil. And is cyclist is not wearing a road surface away in any way compared to 2t Range Rovers. Regarding insurance, many cyclists are already insured via their membership of British Cycling and/or Cycling UK. It\'s also said the cost of checking and adminstering insurance is not effective as the damage a bike can inflict is nowhere near that of a car. Finally, helmet use. I always wear one, but I understand why many don\'t. Helmet wearing is no panacea. In fact, studies have shown drivers drive closer to those wearing helmets, and helmet wearers can increase risks - the same way as drivers with ABS brakes justified to me why they drove so close to the car in front. This article is pointless click-bait designed on mis-informed opinion. Get some facts and balance please.

Barry Graham, Washington, DC

I thought it was just an American phenomenon, for cyclists to ride the wrong way in a street and jump red lights. I don't remember them doing that when I used to live in the UK.