Cycling activists and club riders

phreak
phreak Posts: 2,905
edited December 2013 in Road general
With the reasonably large number of deaths on London roads in the past month, there have been a relative increase in the number of protests around cycling safety, culminating in a 'die in' at the TFL headquarters this week.

I've known the organiser of that event for some time and he's perhaps what you might describe as a typical eco activist, and indeed was ejected from the lobbying group Southwark cyclists for being a bit extreme.

Anyway, my point. Whenever I've spoken to the people at Southwark cyclists about how, or even whether, they engage with the numerous very large cycling clubs in the area, they've always said that racing cyclists weren't their thing.

It got me wondering how many people at, for instance, critical mass rides rode with a club, competed in races, rode sportives etc. or are club cyclists not at all represented in such groups?

Comments

  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    phreak wrote:
    With the reasonably large number of deaths on London roads in the past month, there have been a relative increase in the number of protests around cycling safety, culminating in a 'die in' at the TFL headquarters this week.

    I've known the organiser of that event for some time and he's perhaps what you might describe as a typical eco activist, and indeed was ejected from the lobbying group Southwark cyclists for being a bit extreme.

    Anyway, my point. Whenever I've spoken to the people at Southwark cyclists about how, or even whether, they engage with the numerous very large cycling clubs in the area, they've always said that racing cyclists weren't their thing.

    It got me wondering how many people at, for instance, critical mass rides rode with a club, competed in races, rode sportives etc. or are club cyclists not at all represented in such groups?

    None at all probably.

    From my point of view I couldn't care less about government spending on new infrastructure for segregated cycle lanes in city centre or extra mirrors on HGVs or legislation forcing people to wear helmets or whatever. Of course I'm up for anything that reduces the number of cyclist fatalities on the road, but definitely not enough to go out campaigning or assert my views in a discussion.

    Almost all of my riding is training on quiet country roads, and I've never had any altercations with drivers, in 4 years and lots and lots of miles I've never been in a position where I feel like I need to protest for change so I don't bother.

    To be fair to all the activist types they may well be really helping fight the problem of cyclist fatalities, but their issues aren't my issues so I keep my nose out.

    Same, most of my riding is on quiet country roads unless I get the mountain bike out to ride some trails. I am aware of other road users e.g. Cars, horses, walkers, tractors and move aside if I am causing a traffic obstruction. Urban riding in London is very different and potentially very dangerous. The thing to bear in mind is in any car v bicycle incident the cyclist will always be worse off whether they believe they have the moral high ground or not. Better to just be safe.
  • The infrastructure campaigners are about cycling as an alternative to walking (normal clothes, not sweating, involving the old, very young and infirm) whereas the cycling clubs and most contributors on here are about cycling as an alternative to running (special clothes, done for its own sake or as training for racing).

    Many languages have different words for the two things - in Dutch for instance fietsen for utility cycling, wielrennen ("wheel running") for sport cycling, French faire de la bicyclette for utility, faire du velo for sport.

    You're right, most real existing cyclists in UK conditions are sceptical about segregated infrastructure because it's always been done badly here, and they proceed in a vehicular and sporty manner even if they are going to work or the shops because that's the safest and most efficient way in current conditions. The campaigners would argue that you'll never get above 2-3% modal share for cycling (let alone 40% of primary school kids getting there by bike, or 70% of pensioners cycling every day, as in the Netherlands) if it's perceived as the sport kind rather than the walking kind - and that proper Dutch style cycle infrastructure is quicker as well as safer because it's privileged over motor traffic.
  • Road riding on relatively quiet country roads - which is what most of my cycling is too; is a very different prospect from commuting into a city centre such as London, so it's not really surprising there's a disconnect there.
  • bluefinch wrote:
    safer because it's privileged over motor traffic.

    This is the point that most miss; and this is why Dutch infrastructure works and why UK infrastructure, which gives way to motor traffic at every possible opportunity, does not.
  • phreak
    phreak Posts: 2,905
    Road riding on relatively quiet country roads - which is what most of my cycling is too; is a very different prospect from commuting into a city centre such as London, so it's not really surprising there's a disconnect there.

    I suppose that's what I find peculiar though, because most of the club riders I know also commute, so you'd imagine they have an interest in road safety too. This is purely anecdotal as well, but few of the fatalities you hear of are of cycling club members, so maybe there are things each group can gain from better links, yet those links don't seem to exist at the moment. Just thought it was a bit strange.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    I don't commute to work so I'm really a weekend country cyclist.

    I do appreciate the good work of Sustrans though so I've had a standing order to them for many years. When I started that decent bike paths were almost unheard of - but now the paths are so good that I can use them to kick off my country rides.

    Critical Mass doesn't float my boat to be honest - from what I've seen its less to do with cycling and more to do with annoying motorists.
  • Bozman
    Bozman Posts: 2,518
    Slightly off subject. We need a London section on this forum where all of these issues can be sorted out or does all of this belong in the commuter section.

    Radio 5 live have just had a phone-in about cycling safety and it all revolves around London, take London out of the equation and the topic would hardly get a mention.
  • rpherts
    rpherts Posts: 207
    Kajjal wrote:
    phreak wrote:
    With the reasonably large number of deaths on London roads in the past month, there have been a relative increase in the number of protests around cycling safety, culminating in a 'die in' at the TFL headquarters this week.

    I've known the organiser of that event for some time and he's perhaps what you might describe as a typical eco activist, and indeed was ejected from the lobbying group Southwark cyclists for being a bit extreme.

    Anyway, my point. Whenever I've spoken to the people at Southwark cyclists about how, or even whether, they engage with the numerous very large cycling clubs in the area, they've always said that racing cyclists weren't their thing.

    It got me wondering how many people at, for instance, critical mass rides rode with a club, competed in races, rode sportives etc. or are club cyclists not at all represented in such groups?

    None at all probably.

    From my point of view I couldn't care less about government spending on new infrastructure for segregated cycle lanes in city centre or extra mirrors on HGVs or legislation forcing people to wear helmets or whatever. Of course I'm up for anything that reduces the number of cyclist fatalities on the road, but definitely not enough to go out campaigning or assert my views in a discussion.

    Almost all of my riding is training on quiet country roads, and I've never had any altercations with drivers, in 4 years and lots and lots of miles I've never been in a position where I feel like I need to protest for change so I don't bother.

    To be fair to all the activist types they may well be really helping fight the problem of cyclist fatalities, but their issues aren't my issues so I keep my nose out.

    Same, most of my riding is on quiet country roads unless I get the mountain bike out to ride some trails. I am aware of other road users e.g. Cars, horses, walkers, tractors and move aside if I am causing a traffic obstruction. Urban riding in London is very different and potentially very dangerous. The thing to bear in mind is in any car v bicycle incident the cyclist will always be worse off whether they believe they have the moral high ground or not. Better to just be safe.

    I sometimes ride into London from outside the city. I feel safer riding in central London than on A or B roads in the country. You don't get vans overtaking you at 70mph 2ft away from you in the City.
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    95% of my riding is in the confines of the M25 & I attended several of the early rides as the movement was starting, mostly about the poor re-design of the Blackfriars bridge. My attendance was more about my friends and colleagues who face that bridge.

    I'm perfectly confident on my own but I'm more a vehicular cyclist than a nodder. I've not bothered recently, especially with the 'die ins'. Saying that I still feel safer in the city than the countryside.
  • rpherts wrote:
    I sometimes ride into London from outside the city. I feel safer riding in central London than on A or B roads in the country. You don't get vans overtaking you at 70mph 2ft away from you in the City.

    Yes, but for the most part this is on a small selection of A roads but it depends where you are in the country I guess.
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    I think the eco warrior anti-car drivers are the reason why people hate cyclists. I don't ride a bike because its good for the environment or reduces congestion. I ride it because I like doing it and it keeps me fit.

    IMO we probably have too much dedicated cycling infrastructure, its a right pain for motorcyclists being squished in the middle as the roads narrow to accommodate empty cycle lanes. Gets even worse when they put curbs up narrowing the road even further.

    If you come in to london on the A3 the road at the end of the A3 (west hill) is one of the most dangerous for motorcyclists because of the cycle path and raised pavements on the side roads. It puts bikers in conflict with oncoming cars due to the narrowing lane when filtering and the raised side roads means its hard to spot the entraces and exits. Its probably safer to motorbike in the cycle lane.
  • bluefinch wrote:
    The infrastructure campaigners are about cycling as an alternative to walking (normal clothes, not sweating, involving the old, very young and infirm) whereas the cycling clubs and most contributors on here are about cycling as an alternative to running (special clothes, done for its own sake or as training for racing).

    Many languages have different words for the two things - in Dutch for instance fietsen for utility cycling, wielrennen ("wheel running") for sport cycling, French faire de la bicyclette for utility, faire du velo for sport.

    You're right, most real existing cyclists in UK conditions are sceptical about segregated infrastructure because it's always been done badly here, and they proceed in a vehicular and sporty manner even if they are going to work or the shops because that's the safest and most efficient way in current conditions. The campaigners would argue that you'll never get above 2-3% modal share for cycling (let alone 40% of primary school kids getting there by bike, or 70% of pensioners cycling every day, as in the Netherlands) if it's perceived as the sport kind rather than the walking kind - and that proper Dutch style cycle infrastructure is quicker as well as safer because it's privileged over motor traffic.

    +1

    very good post
  • diy wrote:
    I think the eco warrior anti-car drivers are the reason why people hate cyclists. I don't ride a bike because its good for the environment or reduces congestion. I ride it because I like doing it and it keeps me fit.

    To be honest I dont think they are as common as people like to think, certainly not when you include all the london blogger types you get these days, who are mainly youngish people trying to promote something they enjoy and which would make a massive positive change to any city that really embraced it (they are campaigning for 'living streets', which is about putting pedestrians first, then cyclists, then buses, then cars and so on, with the aim of making our town centres bearable again and not just dangerously polluted racetracks for cars to pass through)
    diy wrote:
    IMO we probably have too much dedicated cycling infrastructure, its a right pain for motorcyclists being squished in the middle as the roads narrow to accommodate empty cycle lanes. Gets even worse when they put curbs up narrowing the road even further.

    Cyclists make up 2% of the transport network nationally, and more in the cities. We sure as hell dont get 2% of the roads budget, and 99.9% of the infrastructure that's been built isn't fit for purpose and has been designed by motorists to help motorists.

    I felt the same on my motorbike a few years back when a road on my route was narrowed for a cycle lane. A few years later and the cycle lane has at least as many cycles as motorcyclists in the road...despite the motorcyclist idiots racing up them and causing mayhem ;)
  • +1

    very good post

    For some reason I hadn't come across the walking / running analogy before but it's a very good one!
  • diy
    diy Posts: 6,473
    Cyclists make up 2% of the transport network nationally, and more in the cities.

    I'd be surprised if it was anything like as much as that. Are talking %age of bvkm?
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,427
    diy wrote:
    Cyclists make up 2% of the transport network nationally, and more in the cities.

    I'd be surprised if it was anything like as much as that. Are talking %age of bvkm?

    It's 2% of commuting journeys I think so 2% of national road infrastructure would be grossly out of proportion!
  • rpherts
    rpherts Posts: 207
    diy wrote:
    I think the eco warrior anti-car drivers are the reason why people hate cyclists. I don't ride a bike because its good for the environment or reduces congestion. I ride it because I like doing it and it keeps me fit.

    IMO we probably have too much dedicated cycling infrastructure, its a right pain for motorcyclists being squished in the middle as the roads narrow to accommodate empty cycle lanes. Gets even worse when they put curbs up narrowing the road even further.

    If you come in to london on the A3 the road at the end of the A3 (west hill) is one of the most dangerous for motorcyclists because of the cycle path and raised pavements on the side roads. It puts bikers in conflict with oncoming cars due to the narrowing lane when filtering and the raised side roads means its hard to spot the entraces and exits. Its probably safer to motorbike in the cycle lane.

    By "raised kerbs" do you mean the physical separation of the cycle lane from the road? Without this though the "cycle lane" is just a part of the same road painted a different colour. People (I mean generally, not you) seem to view these painted bits as having strange mystical properties which will save them from harm. In reality they are just crap.
  • mm1
    mm1 Posts: 1,063
    I don't agree that eco warrior anti-car activists are the reason why people hate cyclists - people hate us anyway. The general public, journalists and politicians do not differentiate between different kinds of cyclist (I doubt that most of them can). There is a significant groundswell of anti cycling opinion and a concomitant lack of interest in making roads safer for cycling - especially if that might mean inconveniencing or antagonizing motorists. By definition a world in which it is safe for "ordinary" people to make everyday journeys by bike would also be safer for sporting cyclists. That and taking "accidents" more seriously.
  • phreak
    phreak Posts: 2,905
    mm1 wrote:
    I don't agree that eco warrior anti-car activists are the reason why people hate cyclists - people hate us anyway. The general public, journalists and politicians do not differentiate between different kinds of cyclist (I doubt that most of them can). There is a significant groundswell of anti cycling opinion and a concomitant lack of interest in making roads safer for cycling - especially if that might mean inconveniencing or antagonizing motorists. By definition a world in which it is safe for "ordinary" people to make everyday journeys by bike would also be safer for sporting cyclists. That and taking "accidents" more seriously.

    To be honest, I was kinda looking at it from another point of view. This is purely anecdotal, but it seems like very few of the fatalities I hear of in London involve club cyclists.

    Now that could be pure statistical good fortune or it might not be. It just seems odd that activist groups don't seem to want to do anything with cycling clubs, despite the latter having a large number of keen and ostensibly skilled riders.

    Of course, not wishing to pin the blame on these groups as club riders don't seem to join in with activist activities either (you seldom see much lycra at critical mass type events for instance, much less club kits).

    Just curious as to why that might be. There is a temptation to lump all cyclists together, but it seems that we're far from a homogenous group.
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,467
    I think it's unfortunate that club/sports cyclists and people for whom cycling is mainly a form of transport don't see eye to eye. I've been both - for about 15 years I cycled just to commute and to get around town (Edinburgh and then London). Used an MTB with slicks and never wore anything but jeans & a t shirt. Now I've been a serious road cyclist for 7 years and don't commute because I live too close to work to make it worthwhile getting all of the gear on, and the train is 9 minutes door to door in any case. All of my solo riding is in a loop from my home and done for training.

    These are two very different uses for a bicycle, so it's not surprising that the focus and needs of these groups are different. But at the end of the day, whether or not you choose to use a bicycle for transport, you have to accept that the activists are basically right - our urban environments, the wider environment, our communal health and well-being, would all be better off if more people cycled and there was less car use, and it's basically just laziness, fear and selfishness that stops most able-bodied (or potentially able-bodied) people doing it. Just because we've heard all that before and the activist types are a self-righteous minority doesn't make them wrong. No-one likes being constantly reminded that they should be doing something that they aren't doing.
  • mm1
    mm1 Posts: 1,063
    Sadly, the list of serious cyclist casualties is a long one: Peter Buckley; Zak Carr; Jason MacIntyre, Ticker Mullins and many more. IMO just riding a bike is activism. I appreciate that there is a difference of attitude, it is unusual to find autophobe non drivers in cycling clubs.
  • I'm a club rider and I took part in the die-in last week mainly because I've never protested about anything really. I;'ve moaned a lot over the years but that's not the same thing. It wasn't quite as exciting as seeing the Miner's Strike or the Printer's protests against Murdoch on the 6 O'Clock News. I didn't get to swear at the coppers, throw missiles or even wave a banner. I just lay in the the road for a bit. What difference the protest will make? Very little I suspect. But hey I've done it, I've protested about something. Something I'm quite passionate about; not getting squashed by a lorry, bus or any other motorised vehicle for that matter on my commute in to London.
    Live to ski
    Ski to live
  • phreak
    phreak Posts: 2,905
    What were the other protestors like Colin? Did you see many other MAMIl types?
  • But most of the above list, and serious cyclist deaths in general, are either time trialists on A roads or commuters on A roads. I'll bet the numbers of deaths on quiet rurals is hardly any

    It's hard to know because outside of London, they aren't usually reported in the media.
  • mm1
    mm1 Posts: 1,063
    Before it got quiet, Veloriders would have grim news from time to time. In terms of miles ridden per fatality outside major conurbations, I guess that the stats aren't that bad (and in response to Luke, there are plenty of roads inc. several TT courses that are just insane to ride on). I also accept that accidents do happen. The problem is that many "accidents" are not really accidents at all, and the law protects bad drivers.