Message from a fellow cyclist

Why do we campaign for cycling and a safe quality infrastructure?

Above all, there is huge sense of unfairness faced by the small minority of people who cycle as a means of transport, to go from A to B, everyday or regularly. The people we call the brave ones, because, despite the hostile conditions on the roads, they do it.

As most minorities, we are not cared for, abused and blamed in many ways.

Do people have choices when it comes to transport? Is cycling a genuine option when the provision in our cities is so poor and unsafe?

Last week, I got an email from a fellow cycle commuter and as usual, my heart sank because let’s face it, it’s rarely good news. Here is the transcript, and a vivid reminder that, more than ever, campaigning for better and safer cycling infrastructure is the right thing to do.

Morning folks,

Just to let you know I got knocked off my bike while on the school run Friday afternoon in Gosforth. I was crossing a mini roundabout a white van driver failed to give way and I collided with him head on. I ended up under his bumper with me attached to my SPDs. Cuts and bruises to my right side, inner thigh, back & elbow. Lucky we were both going quite slowly or it could have been a lot worse.

The driver admitted that it was his fault and said he just didn’t see me. He apologised and said he would have stopped sooner but his foot slipped off the brake.

I contacted the Police and they took a statement but said as far as they were concerned it was just an accident and no crime has been committed. Unlikely to prove ‘dangerous driving’ which was disappointing as it seems cyclists have no rights even compared to say pedestrians. Other thing that was disappointing was that despite lying pole axed in the road nobody bothered to get out of their cars (which were backed up in the rush hour) to see if I was okay.

Anyway, just to let you know that I’m giving up commuting to work and will only be cycling recreationally as the roads in Newcastle are too dangerous. That’s the second time I’ve been knocked off and had many lucky escapes with people opening cars doors in cycling lanes etc. I will review the situation once the new cycle route is instated late this year.

I’ve also stopped my son cycling to Gosforth East Middle School. He was bitterly disappointed as they have a cycling challenge organised by Sustrans this week. I must admit it will be a wrench as at this time of year it’s great to get a bit of fresh air and exercise rather than sitting idle on a stuffy bus. But hey you pay’s your money and takes your chance.