My foreword in Addison Lee's magazine Add Lib, has caused quite a storm amongst the Twitter community, and I'm glad it has. In the article, I argue for compulsory training and insurance for London's bicycle owners and I still stand by my contention. About one cyclist is killed on London's roads every month and countless others horribly injured. If the article causes a debate around cycle safety, and perhaps saves some lives, bring it on.
As things stand, anyone can just jump on a bike and you see them all the time on London's roads, wearing flip flops, T-shirts, a pair of headphones on, tapping their fingers on the handlebar to the beat of the music. We've all had to take evasive action as these kinds of cyclists tear through red lights, without a thought for their, or anyone else's safety, and its these kinds of cyclists (a minority I should add), that cause problems for everyone - road users, pedestrians and cyclists alike.
I regularly hear stories from my drivers about accidents they have witnessed involving cyclists and we have all seen the white bikes that are positioned across the capital, as memorials and reminders of the dangers. These accidents are horrific, devastating events, both for the cyclists involved and the drivers of the vehicles, who have to cope with a terrible burden for the rest of their lives.
A few years ago, almost every school child did a cycling proficiency test, which involved negotiating their way around bollards and learning the Highway Code. What has happened to that, and why is it not on the agenda any more?
In other cities, like Milton Keynes, there are fantastic cycle lanes, but this is just not practical for London. What is practical, however, is to do what we can to protect cyclists. I support the instalment of Trixi mirrors at traffic lights. They allow HGV drivers to see cyclists alongside them and seem like a great idea. And as I stated in the original article, I back proper training for all cyclists and a legal requirement to be vigilant at all times (for example by banning earphone use by cyclists).
Every accident is different, but what we can do is reduce the risk factors for cyclists. I am a cyclist. I have my Boris Bike key and I take cycling very seriously like the majority of cyclists out there. It's without a doubt a dangerous pursuit, and constant vigilance and a level of proven competency on the roads must be a part of that.
At Addison Lee, we have a fleet of cycle couriers and our driver training also ensures that they are aware of other road users, including cyclists. It also requires that they are courteous and respectful to cyclists at all times.
Cycling is a deadly serious issue and lives are at stake. There have been huge campaigns recently to encourage cycling, but not so much in terms of improving safety and awareness for cyclists.
I'm glad that the issue is being debated. If anyone has more ideas for improving safety for cyclists, I would be delighted to hear them. In the meantime, I will continue calling for compulsory training and compulsory insurance for bicycle users.