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Who’s road is it anyway?!

You may have seen the reports from the current Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling’s comments that cyclists do not qualify as road users. It is comments like this plus his awkward dooring of a cyclist last month that make me intensely aware that we’ve not really seen the last of the “Failing Grayling” moniker that followed him everywhere when he was Justice Secretary. 

Far from being just an awkward gaffe, his comments point at a far larger issue that road and commuter cyclists up and down the land could be threatened by, namely his ability to adequately serve all road users whilst he’s at the Department for Transport. 

If Failing Grayling thinks that cyclists need to stick to cycle lanes, part of me wants to say that’s fine, as long as those lanes are fit for purpose and of course that a cycle lane is in fact available. After all this would make cyclists less vulnerable to the actions of negligent transport ministers.

But that’s a fairly sizeable caveat to put in place when you take a look at the general state of our highways as they currently stand.  After all, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that many current cycle lanes don’t go far enough to adequately serve, or protect the safety of cyclists.  Indeed, a lot of sport has been made of the poor workmanship of some cycle lanes, from the Warrington Cycle Campaign’s book of Crap Cycle Lanes to our local Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester blog.  And what do cyclists do when the cycle lanes are no good or non-existent?  Why, they use the roads, of course!  After all, those on bikes need to get to their destination just as much as non-cyclists do, and would hope to do so as safely as any other road user.  Not to mention the fact that it’s their legal right.

Sadly though, leaving cyclists to the mercies of other road users doesn’t always equal a safe journey and as a cycling collisions lawyer, I deal with the fallout of that on a regular basis.  I feel strongly that a proportion of the incidents that we deal with could have been avoided with better infrastructure and frankly, an ill thought out piece of road design, regardless of whether or not there is a cycle lane involved, can lead to serious mishaps between cyclists and other road users. In the vast majority of cases it will be the cyclist that comes off worst. 

To even come close to a world without these accidents happening, infrastructure design and implementation has to consider every road user’s individual needs, be they drivers, pedestrians or cyclists. When the man at the helm of the Department for Transport can’t even distinguish that cyclists are as much road users as any other vehicle, there must surely be little hope that future infrastructure plans will move us closer to that vision. 

Hopefully, you’re reading this blog having avoided coming a-cropper to problems on the road.  However, if you have found yourself the victim of a collision and another party was potentially to blame, then do get in touch and I’ll do my best to assist.  You can email me at alistair.ward@jmw.co.uk or call on 0800 054 6570.

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