Motorists don’t own the Streets

I liked Roy’s letter to the Editor at the Belfast Telegraph so decided to re-post it here. I feel Roy constructively expresses a view held by many cyclists and reflects a perspective that many motorists need to take on board. After all we are all people, surly we can share the roads and paths with care? Is that really so hard

[Published: Tuesday 18, March 2008 – 14:44]

Shane Donaghey’s call to ‘Reclaim the streets! Ban cyclists’ (Belfast Telegraph, March 5) may receive applause from certain motorists, but I hope that everyone would be appalled by his suggestion that cyclists be killed in ‘a cull of the selfish pond life who add nothing but aggro to the city’.

The streets and roads belong to everyone, not just motorists.

For far too long this society has felt it acceptable for vehicles to travel at 30mph, and more, in residential streets.

The result of this is that parents are reluctant to let children walk or cycle to school, or even to play outside.

One result of this is rising obesity.

Let the children play!

Introduce 20mph zones across all residential streets. Motorists too could benefit – more children walking and cycling to school would mean fewer cars on the road and less congestion.

Shane calls cyclists ‘fat’ and, while some certainly are, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that they are leaner and healthier than non-cyclists.

While you are more at risk of injury while cycling than in a car – something which we must and can address – these risks pale in comparison with the risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

He also thinks that flashing lights on bikes are distracting. I think they are more visible and make cycling safer. If the evidence suggests otherwise, cyclists will stop using them.

Shane is right, however, to complain about cyclists cycling the wrong way down a one-way street. They shouldn’t do this. What they should do is join us or other cycling organisations and campaign to allow two-way cycling in one-way streets.

Other cities allow this quite safely, why not Belfast?

Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians have to share the streets and roads, and good manners and obeying the law are key to making this work.

Cyclists aren’t perfect, but cycling, which improves health and reduces pollution, our carbon footprint and our dependency on foreign oil, has to be encouraged.


Northern Ireland Cycling Initiative

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