Fedex van driver tries to kill me – I want answers

Two weeks ago, on Saturday 20th August, on Midland Road, outside St Pancras station, a Fedex van driver made several lunges at me with his Fedex van, in a manner that was absolutely using his van as a weapon, with intent to cause fear, and potentially harm. At one point, he came less than a wheel length away from my hire bike, and I am in no doubt at all that had I lost my balance at this point, I would have gone under his van, and he would have killed me.

So how have the Met Police treated this clear incident of what’s softly known as road rage, but what felt at the time like attempted murder? Well they tell me the driver will get a “ticket” – a fixed penalty notice, pay a small fine, take perhaps 3 points, or avoid even having to do either by going on a learn to be nice course.

Am I being a bit melodramatic about this? After all, road rage incidents happen in London all the time, and I was just a mere cyclist, riding a hire bike, possibly making the driver think I was being inexperienced by riding in the centre of the lane, as per TfL’s own advice. Frankly, no I am not. The edited and full video are available below, and even this just show what I caught on camera. It’s very clear to see the driver making several lunges forward, together with incessant beeping. So isn’t this just simple dangerous driving? Dangerous driving means driving in a way which falls significantly below what might reasonably be expected of a competent driver in the situation. Dangerous driving is a serious offence, but it is not, of itself, malicious. A very close overtake, speeding dangerously round a corner or veering across lanes on a motorway due to tiredness might all be deemed as dangerous, but they do not carry intent to endanger or harm.

This driver has absolutely caused me serious harm in the form of intense stress, and by sparking off an episode of the mood disorder I otherwise had under a reasonable level of control. My own bike is still parked at Coventry station, where I left it that afternoon, or if it isn’t there, well somebody else has moved it, and I’m past caring. I won’t be cycling again for at least a month, maybe more, at this point I cannot say. Every time I go near traffic, I now feel a heightened sense of fear. For a number of days in the last few weeks, I have just remained completely housebound.

But what has angered me most about this incident is not so much the driving itself (it happens), but the fact that this man was in control of a branded corporate vehicle, and one belonging to a company which claims to pride itself in its safety standards. It is also an example of the complete double standards we have in our criminal justice system, when attacks are made using vehicles as the weapon, despite the CPS having very clear guidelines stating that a vehicle becomes a weapon when it is driven with intent to cause harm or distress. Now think of this location, and ask yourself:

  1. What would have happened if a Fedex delivery agent had taken out a gun insider St Pancras International Station?
  2. What if a Fedex employee wielded a knife in the crowd that surrounds the Harry Potter exhibit inside King’s Cross Station?

I don’t think I need to answer the question – go directly to jail, do not pass go.

Yet try to drive into someone, even when they are still using a TfL branded transport facility? Keep going as normal, do a little course, do not even pay a £200 fine.

Now what about Fedex themselves as a company, and essentially the world’s largest deliverer of parcels and similar such services? Well in the air, their record is perfectly competent. They talk a good corporate game. But are their standards on the road even remotely close to what you’d expect from their pilots and other aviation operatives? Not even close!

Hence, I have asked the Fedex depot manager to explain:

  1. Was there a dash cam installed and running?
  2. Is there an interior camera in the cab to monitor driver alertness?
  3. Does the van use a “black box” – ie telematics, to monitor driver behaviour?
  4. How does your recruitment process screen out potentially dangerous drivers?
  5. What sort of ongoing training is provided for your drivers, and is this mandatory, or only post-incident?
  6. Was this driver a direct employee of Fedex, an employee of a subcontractor, or a freelance operative?
  7. Are Fedex signed up to safety reporting initiatives, such as FORS or CIRAS?
  8. What expectations are placed on your drivers in terms of the number of deliveries or pickups they are expected to make each day?
  9. Are drivers either penalised or rewarded for late or on-time delivery performance?
  10. What specific training is given, in a city such as London, towards driver awareness of more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians?

These questions were asked a week ago, and as yet, they remain unanswered. It’s been amazing to watch over the last few months how TfL themselves have responded to campaigns, especially by the relentless Tom Kearney (@comadad), to improve their own bus safety. Delivery drivers represent a substantial portion of the traffic that is on the roads of London and other cities. It’s time they were held to account in the same way that people are slowly holding bus companies and other such providers.

Fedex above all else really should be leading the way on transport safety – no other company in the world operates such a large combined fleet of vans, trucks, and of course aircraft.

I hope this post will yield some answers to the above questions.

Full video below:

 

Road CC Article and my response

 

Thanks everyone for comments. The reason why I made the terror comparison was entirely down to the location of the attack and company involved.

Now turn this the other way round – supposing I was an under-investigation employee of Fedex who tried to bring down one of their planes (see Fedex 705).

Would anyone quibble about whether that was terrorism, air piracy, or attempted murder?

Now suppose a Fedex staff member took out a gun or a knife inside St Pancras – do we then quibble or say it’s outlandish to say it was an act of terror, even if it may well be a lone act?

I can accept that the driver probably didn’t set out that afternoon to knock someone off a hire bike, but the simple fact is that I was there, wrong place, wrong time, and I know that he made a choice to intimidate and harass, rather than just to change lane, which he could easily have done.

I also think there’s every chance he picked me out for using a hire bike. In other words, in his political belief system as was in his mind at that time, it’s highly likely that he decided to threaten me based on his belief that he was the superior, road tax paying, licensed driver, and I was quite possibly just an inexperienced tourist who was in his way.

Either way, if i was in a car going that speed, the attack wouldn’t have happened – we all know that. So an attack based on choice of transport mode is an act of hate at the very least.

Trainists in the vestibule who can’t be bothered to find seats

Now as a trainist myself, I have always had a few gripes about my fellow train passengers, and if there is a “bingo card” of bad train user behaviour, then it’s certainly going to include things like yakking on the phone in a quiet coach, not waiting for passengers to get off before you try to board and I will also add any sort of general grumble that goes along the lines of “renationalisation will solve everything”, “I want a seat on a commuter train AND I want it at an off peak price”, or just generally bitching because you have a meeting to get to, but you’ve left no time to spare, and the train is a whopping 10 minutes late.
Yet there is one gripe which isn;’t just annoying because it’s selfish, but it’s also annoying because it’s ocmpletely pointless – sitting in the vestibule, ie sitting by the doors on a train that actually has plenty of perfectly good seats available. So why does this annoy me? Well yes, these passengers are blocking the doors, which are there, well, for passengers to get on and off, but also because it just gives people something to grumble about when often there’s no need.
Most long distance British trains have plenty of space available – yes, that’s right, loads of space. Shock horror, nobody wants to believe it, because we just assume that because commuter trains are full, long distance trains must be as well. Except that’s just not the case, and there are two very good reasons for this. Firstly, some peak services are so expensive that even business users just won’t pay to go on them. Evening peak services leaving Euston are typically just over half full. The morning peak is busier, but even then, 65-70% is normal, it’s very hard not to find a seat if you look for one. Now what about off peak trains? Yes, some of them are full, particularly on bank holiday weekends, and there is also often a period before and after the peak “rush hour” (sorry, rip off 4 hours), when trains are often busier than they should be, because of the artificial price spike of peak fares. But on the whole, long distance trains really aren’t full, nor should they be. Why? Because long distance trains run between multiple points, and unlike some of their European (especially Spanish) equivalents, they almost never run non stop between origin and destination. Every time a train stops, there is usually a reasonable number (let’s say a coach load as an example) getting off, and then others get on. Leaving London, the train will usually lose passengers the further it gets away from the capital, although there are points on the route where there can be a net uplift, esepcially at major junction stations such as Preston on the West Coast or York on the East Coast.
Yet whichever way you look at it, British long distance trains are almost never full from end to end, and even if they are, there is still a turnover of seats at each point. So you board at Kings Cross and want to get a seat, but there aren’t any free? Simples – just hang around the MIDDLE of the carriage, not the vestibule, and your chances of still having to stand north of Peterborough are all but eliminated. If you are in a group, then it becomes much harder, as you are dependent on a group of the same size, or two smaller groups sitting next to each other to get off at the same time. But as a single passenger – if you want a seat ut have no reservation, you really have to be trying very very hard NOT to find a seat once the train has passed its first, or at worst, second, calling point (not counting places like Stevenage, which are often pick up only).
This is why I was deeply cynical when the story of Jeremy Corbyn sitting for the “WHOLE” journey broke last week, and why I’m no at all surprise that these claims have been challenged. So there you have it, and back to the real scandal – Virgin Trains boasting about having loads of spare seats – SHOCK HORROR.
If only there was some other sort of transport industry that moved passengers over great distances, and that generally operated at 70-80% full that Mr Branson could learn from. Suggestions for this on a postcard please – by air mail of course!
My Facebook point last week:

“Tickets please”

“B,b,b,but there’s no room within”

“That’s a first class ticket for a standard cubby hole Mr O’Nazereth – plenty of seats in first and standard if you just move along there now Mr J Man”

“Bbbbut the train’s only just left Peterborough, where two coachloads got off, and only twelvety people have taken a photo of me”

Could you move along now please sir, people actually need that space for their luggage, there’s tons of seats.

Bbbbbbbut……………………..

Coventry Bus Lanes – Council admits it has done no research whatsoever!

Following a Freedom of Information Act request, Coventry City Council has revealed that to date, it has conducted absolutely no research whatsoever prior to its planned removal of bus lanes.

This is despite the new council leader George Duggins making it a policy priority, and publicly declaring his intention to have the lanes ripped out from September onwards. The decision is only set to require the approval of Coventry City Council cabinet, and is not currently subject to any further investigation, or scrutiny by a full council meeting, or any other process.

It is already understood that a delegation from Coventry City Council went to visit Liverpool last month, in order to observe the impact of bus lane removal in that city. Despite having a much more comprehensive urban rail network when compared to Coventry, together with its famous ferry services, public transport usage on Merseyside remains low, and it is not regarded as a model by any credible urban mobility experts.

Coventry Bus Lanes

Coventry Bus Lanes – no research

My personal view

If the council had announced a planned review of bus lanes, with a comprehensive analysis of which lanes were working well, which ones were not, and then acting on the review by considering which lanes might be improved, and perhaps as well where there were some bus lanes which weren’t needed, then I doubt that anyone in the city would have any concerns about this.

The problem we have here is that it is blatantly obvious that no such review is taking place – in fact, in accordance with the question as it was asked, it appears that council officers didn’t even know about the Liverpool trip.

Of course, a “study tour” of itself should be welcomed, if it was an act of genuine fact finding, and if the council was also taking the time to have a look at other cities which have an effective network of bus lanes. We know that the council has previously undertaken “study tours” to the Netherlands, but insteead of looking at any number of cities which work, they put all their efforts into visiting totally inappropriate “shared space” junctions in the town of Drachten. We know from the accident data that these junctions do not work at all, and that they are a nightmare for many types of vulnerable road users.

As somebody who uses buses, and obviously somebody who cycles as well, I really don’t think bus lanes are the answer to everything in all places – in fact, far from it. Yet from the point of view of cycling, bus lanes provide a sense of relative protection, especially when compared with a lethal two lane road, where no such facilities exist. This has to be factored into any decision making, along with an analysis of the usage of the lanes by the buses they were intended to serve, just as the council needs to be looking at streets across the whole city, and coming up with a plan to make each one of them safe for every user.

From what we have seen so far, no such analysis has taken place. On a positive note, there is no mention of bus lanes on the agenda for tomorrow’s cabinet meeting. The next one is not until 30th August.

Hopefully the councillors concerned have a few more weeks to think this through before then.

PM Carpentry of Coventry – a road criminal you should avoid

PM Carpentry of Coventry – are they any good with wood, are PM Carpentry of Coventry carpenter(s) you can trust?

Frankly, I don’t know and that’s not my concern, although I can’t find them on any ratings websites. I’m much more concerned about their, or his driving, as witnessed this afternoon.

PM Carpentry of Coventry – Uncaring Road Criminals

As I was walking home alongside the busy Earlsdon Avenue North, Coventry, I note that there’s a left hand van driving past – of itself not particularly exceptional, but it puts the driver on the pavement side. Then I notice that he’s just got his phone out, so I ask him to put it down. Yet of course, Mr PM Carpentry of Coventry isn’t interested in putting his phone down, why should he be, he no doubt uses it all the time when driving, and I’m clearly not a police officer in uniform, so who cares?

PM Carpentry of Coventry

PM Carpentry of Coventry

If he’d just put it down, I really wouldn’t have done anything more with the footage – mobile phone driving may be a very serious act of road crime which leads to hundreds of deaths per year, but most people don’t even notice it because it’s so prevalent. Part of the reason why it isn’t enforced more is that it is actually quite difficult to get a clear shot of a phone driving road criminal in the act, except here Mr PM Carpentry of Coventry gave me a bit of a head start by driving a left hand drive van with the window open.

Yet what does Mr Road Criminal PM Carpentry do, instead of putting his phone down? He points it right in my face, and then drives off, phone in hand. Nice move Mr PM Carpentry of Coventry, nice move. Having denied being a mobile phone using road criminal on the grounds that you were stationery, you now drive off, Mr Road Criminal PM Carpentry, phone in hand, doing the very thing you’ve just denied doing.

I'm not Driving

I’m not Driving

The video is with the police, but in the meantime, if you happen to run a road safety blog, please link to this post about the road criminal Mr PM Carpentry of Coventry, so that potential users of carpentry services in Coventry are aware of the road criminal activities of PM Carpentry, so they can kindly take their business elsewhere.

This video of PM Carpentry’s road criminality is in the hands of West Midlands police

Bus Stop bypasses FOI to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

In respect of the trust’s opposition to bus stop bypasses (BSBs), also known as floating bus stops:

  1. What research has the trust conducted, in order to determine that bus stop bypasses are unsafe?
  2. To which locations, if any, have trust staff made visits, in order to see examples of bus stop bypasses in action?
  3. What research has the trust conducted into cycling as a form of mass transit that is open to all users, regardless of age, gender or disability, as opposed to the cycling demographic in the UK?
  4. What scientific tests have been applied to this research, for example:
    1. Peer review of available data.
    2. Published studies showing accident rates at locations with and without BSBs.
  5. What studies, if any, has the trust undertaken, to determine the risks of conventional bus stops, in respect of:
    1. Their usage by pedestrians, including vulnerable pedestrians.
    2. Their usage by cyclists.
    3. The risks to bus passengers from onboard accidents, including trips due to harsh braking by the driver to avoid passing cyclists.
    4. The risk to boarding bus passengers from cyclists under taking buses.
  6. How has the trust equated the risk between the claimed dis-benefits of BSBs, and the advantages they offer to each party?
  7. What methodology has been applied to all of the above, to ensure that the claims made against BSBs are robust, and subject to the same intellectual rigour that the trust would apply when ascertaining the risks to patients from procedures carried out inside the hospital?

Response from GSTT on 14th July:

FOI

The difference between shared space and filtered space

hopefully I can sum this up in a single tweet, because there is a lot of confusion going around, so here it is:

FILTERED = thru traffic selectively removed to foster attractive streets SHARED = attempt to create attractive environment without filtering

For any further details, please read any of the excellent posts on the subject from the likes of the GB Cycling embassy, Mark Treasure / As Easy as Riding a bike, David Hembrow and others.

Or alternatively, here it is again:

If you filter first, you can share the space without problems.

If you try to impose shared space without filtering, nobody is happy.

Notice of Discrimination Served on Coventry Council

Equality Act 2010: Notice of Discrimination

[DRAFT – May 31 2016]

Served on: Coventry City Council 
Served by: James Avery, Craven Street, Coventry 
Email: james@pedalparity.com 

Discrimination occurs under the Equality Act 2010 when one or more persons are treated in a manner which is significantly disadvantageous because they have a protected characteristic.

There is widespread discrimination against people who do, and even more significantly against people who would like to cycle around the city of Coventry, but are prevented from doing so, due to a number of protected characteristics, including, but not limited to:

  1. Age (being both young and below the minimum age for a driving licence);
  2. Age (being senior citizens);
  3. Gender (recorded in the imbalance between male and female cyclists);
  4. Disability, including both physical and cognitive disabilities.

Duty to cooperate

 

At this stage, the complainant invites the council to formally respond by acknowledging the complaint and to informally respond with a follow-up plan, including measures which can be undertaken from street maintenance budgets and from Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levies, without requiring large additional funding from government.

The council must acknowledge that fear of cycling of itself is a substantial problem, over and above any physical or mental disabilities or other protected characteristics which may prevent people from cycling.

Acknowledgement is expected within 7 days and a full response is anticipated within 31 days

Selected examples of how people are discriminated against when cycling or attempting to cycle within Coventry.

Road network

  • Other than a few select locations, the road network in Coventry is deeply hostile to cycling, despite the Local Plan 2001 commitment that cycle routes should be “safe, comfortable, secure and direct, with special attention given to the needs of disabled people”.
  • The road network is equally hostile on side streets as it is on main roads. Cyclists who try to mitigate road danger by taking quieter streets can find them to be even more hostile due to the large prevalence of “rat running”, and the tendency of some motorists to tailgate and pass extremely close through these rat runs.
  • Cycling in Coventry is always a trade off between “comfort” (cycling closer to the kerb) and “safety” (cycling closer to the centre line, in the field of view, but frequently being bullied for doing so).
  • Whilst individual displays of bad driver behaviour can and sometimes are reported to West Midlands Police, a road network which encourages this behaviour, has to be the root cause of the problem, not just individual drivers.
  • The council has a responsibility to weed this behaviour out, and the best way to do this is by closing networks of through streets. For example, there is simply no need for through traffic in Craven Street – it should be a quiet residential street, which has a need both for residential access and access to the pubs, but there is simply no need for through traffic to be passing through here, often just trying to avoid the traffic lights and turning restrictions on the main roads which surround it.
  • Another example of a street which is heavily prone for running is Catherine Street in Hillfields. Again, there is no need for traffic to be cutting through here – there is a perfectly good dual carriageway in the form of the A444. All through traffic should be routed there, with local streets maintained strictly for local people.
  • The planning system has repeatedly failed to uphold existing policies to promote safe and secure cycling for all users (protected characteristic or not).

 

Obstructive gates

  • It is understood that the city is aware of the obstructions which are caused by unnecessary cycle gates, which delay able-bodied cyclists, and simply prevent users of many types of adapted cycles from passing through at all.
  • These gates are also a significant impediment to any cyclist with shopping or other baggage, whether they have a disability or not.
  • The cycle gates serve no useful physical purpose – they do not prevent motorcycles from finding a way in, nor do they provide any protection for pedestrians.
  • The council should accelerate its existing informal policy by removing these gates as rapidly as is reasonably possible, whilst working with West Midlands Police to combat any associated antisocial behaviour.

Parking

 

  • There are no facilities for on street parking of cycles on Craven Street, as is the norm on residential streets across the city. This is direct and quantifiable discrimination – should any resident require a disabled car parking space, then this can be marked out on the street.
  • There is no equivalent scheme for cyclists with disabilities – there is simply no way of applying for a blue badge without associating it with a motor vehicle, with associated number plates.
  • There is no protected legal status for the disabled person who does not have a car. This is inherently discriminatory, because it wrongly assumes that the only way to demonstrate a disabled need is through the blue badge scheme.
  • Cycle lane access points, corners, turning circles and other similarly sensitive parking areas are rarely enforced. This is an issue which affects pedestrians even more than it affects cyclists, and it also applies to bus stops.
  • There is equally no facility for the parking of mobility scooters on the street, which is noted to happen frequently on Craven Street by both residents and pub users.
  • There is no guaranteed provision of cycle parking either at or immediately adjacent to any high street retail facility. For example, although multiple cycle parking stands are available outside Earlsdon Co-op, there are no other such facilities the entire length of Earlsdon Street, including outside Lloyds pharmacy, which is used by the complainant.
  • There is no assumption of parking in any other city centre or suburban location – whilst the number of cycle parking stands has expanded in recent years in some space in some places, it is completely lacking others – for example at the rear of West Orchard shopping centre.
  • Cycle parking is often provided without the provision of appropriate dropped kerbs.
  • There is no specific designated disabled cycle parking, nor is there specific cycle parking for tricycles, bicycles with trailers and other such adapted bicycles.

Reasonable Adjustments

The Equality Act 2010 specifically requires that councils make “reasonable adjustments”  in order to facilitate the needs of people with protected characteristics, and to reduce the negative impacts that they may experience of an environment which places them at a disadvantage.

Given the current funding environment, reasonable adjustments can and still must include the following:

 

  • The development of a network plan for a full system of routes, in anticipation that following the CWIS[1] and local devolution, funding for the system will come over time.
  • The development of a presumption of filtering[2], such that streets which are wide open to rat running are selectively closed off, in order to create a safe environment for residents, pedestrians, disabled users and cyclists alike. To date, the council has vehemently opposed tried and tested filtering techniques, and instead pursued a policy of shared space, which has been immensely destructive.
  • A moratorium on all “shared space” development, until a full safety audit of the existing schemes has been done.
  • Faster implementation and enforcement of 20mph limits across the city.
  • Rolling road maintenance to include measures such as filtering, cycle parking, and rearranging the street space to become more cycle friendly (for example by moving car parking further away from the kerb and installing cycle lanes).
  • The provision of additional cycle parking as and where it is needed – this is a very low cost operation.
  • The establishment of the means to request on street cycle parking, regardless of whether or not the applicant has a protected characteristic – this simply establishes parity with on street car parking.

[1] Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy 2016

[2] Formally known as “filtered permeability”; informally known as closing off rat runs or removal of through traffic

Road Crime is just that, so let’s call it Road Crime

What is road crime? Road crime is any form of illegal activity that is conducted on the road, where the victims are other road users. It contrasts with “car crime” (or vehicle crime), where the victim is the owner of the vehicle, by way of theft, vandalism or other damage to their property.

Some politicians and other commentators have complained about the term “road crime”, suggesting we should just refer to “traffic offences”, pointing out that most road crimes are not treated in the same way as criminal offences.

I beg to differ.

Road crime is a very serious problem that affects all of us. It might help to start with a dictionary definition, and this one comes from Oxford Dictionaries:

crime

Pronunciation: /krʌɪm/

NOUN

  1. An action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law
  2. [MASS NOUN] Illegal activities:the victims of crime
  3. An action or activity considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong
For the avoidance of doubt, it should be easy enough to see why road crime fits all three of these definitions:
  1. Whether we call it a road crime or a traffic offence, the law still carries punishments for it, whether by fine, prison term, licence endorsement or removal.
  2. Road crimes are most certainly illegal, they are simply sometimes treated through a different process.
  3. Road crime in the bluntest use of language is “wrong” – road crime kills people, and in the absence of a penal code for motor offences, causing death by dangerous or careless driving would just have to be considered as manslaughter.

Yet it is with the other parts of this third definition that we, as a society, have a problem. Is speeding really “evil” in the eyes of the vast majority of motorists you will see doing it at any time of day on the M1? And shameful? Or just something to boast about in the pub, an annoying “stealth” case of “speed tax” to complain about, because big brother government is out to get the hard working, “road tax” paying, law abiding, motorist? Oh wait – what did you say, law abiding?

Let’s just stop right there. Most motorists are indeed law abiding, most of the time, if we ignore the small question of motorway driving, and just focus back on town driving. Most motorists consider themselves to be good drivers, and they may well be lucky enough to have a few years’ of no claims bonus to back such a claim up. Most motorists aren’t using their phones most of the time, but there is a small and persistent minority who think it is quite acceptable to drive with a phone in one hand and a sandwich in the other – after all, “they’ve never had an accident”, so why should anyone be concerned?

So road crime is very much a rational concern, and and a very real one at that. Here are a few back of envelope figures for comparison, all based on the most recently available figures:

  1. As a European citizen, you are 100x more likely to die in a road accident, than you are as a victim of a terrorist attack.
  2. “But most road deaths aren’t road crimes” – in 2013, there were 402 convictions for causing death due to driving in the UK (either careless or dangerous) [RAC].
  3. In total, there were 1713 road fatalities in the UK. Allowing for incidents with multiple fatalities, there will have been around 1200 fatal road crashes in this time (estimate).
  4. This suggests that around 1/3 of drivers who caused fatal incidents were charged and convicted.
  5. By comparison, 2012 saw the UK murder rate reach a record low of 550. It has gone up slightly, with a rise reported in 2015, but the full year isn’t available. An estimate of 600 might be reasonable.
  6. Your chances of being randomly murdered in the UK are reduced further, as 64% of murder victims knew their attacker.
  7. This would mean that there are around 216 random murders in the UK each year, ie where the victim does not know the attacker.
  8. So your chances of being killed by a road criminal, as opposed to by a murdering criminal are almost twice as high (402/216 = 1.86).
  9. Your chances of being killed in or by a motor vehicle are nearly 8x higher than your chances of being randomly murdered, or nearly 3x higher than of you being murdered by anyone, including people you know.

So there really should be no question about it – road crime is road crime, and it is not victimless. Road crashes don’t just happen by chance – in the vast majority of cases, human error is the biggest single factor, and despite our existing judicial system being notoriously soft on dangerous driving, we know that already around 1/3 of fatal incidents result in a successful prosecution. That is not to say that so-called genuine cases of “bad luck” don’t apply. Nor is this to suggest that every fatal road accident should result in a prosecution for careless or dangerous driving. However, based on a very rough calculation from available data, it is clear to see that around 1/3 of road fatalities are indeed due to criminally negligent driving. If you happen to be killed as a cyclist, then that figure rises to a slightly higher 39% (BBC). However, on a mile for mile basis, cyclists are also open to more risk exposure, with a fatality rate of 3x that of motoring. This is why it is easy to see why so many people who ride bikes regularly want to see a road justice system which makes it easier to get dangerous drivers off the roads.

There is always going to be a need for debate about exactly how the legal system should deal with each different motoring offence, and how a system of sanctions can still include a large element of driver awareness and education. There are ongoing discussion, but as we come up to the second full round of voting in the PCC elections, we shouldn’t be afraid to label these traffic offences as what they really are, and that is road crime.

Time to see Coventry as a “One Garden City”

This is just a very brief introduction to a concept that needs more explanation elsewhere, but hopefully the idea is simple enough:

Cities like Coventry have acres of green space, but much of it is hardly ever used, because it is too difficult to access, or it is simply fenced off.

Councils need to start seeking a combined role between their health promotion departments, parks facilities and of course transport, such that every available green corridor can be opened up to form a single continuous linked park. In a city like Coventry, this could mean creating four connected corridors, some of which are already open in short sections.

The land is already there, and this land is unlikely to be used for other purposes, as it would not make commercial sense to build on it.

Green corridors, connected by quietways through open street are in no way a substitute for trunk cycle routes on major corridors, but they are very much part of the mix when it comes to providing safe space for walking, running or cycling.

In a city like Coventry, they can be even more valuable, because even if the best possible cycle routes are provided, cycling alongside busy roads like the A45 or the London Road is never going to be pleasant.

Laying down paths along existing green corridors can be an extremely cheap exercise, with recent completions of the Birmingham canal network averaging around £200,000 per kilometre.

one-garden-city

Retailers – cyclists don’t just go shopping to buy another bike.

This morning, yet another planning application has been made for the Arena Retail Park in Coventry, where nothing will be done to change the existing woeful under provision of cycle parking.

In this, the ultimate car dominated retail destination, where the main access is via the A444 dual carriageway, catering for people on foot or using bikes has always been a nuisance of an afterthought, because, of course, the retail solutions analysts have told everyone that “only cars buy things”. Bizarrely, after a social media and email campaign, cyclists can at least park outside the Decathlon store, so they can then go in and buy another bike if they so wish. These stands were installed after the retailer pressured the management agents, who in turn look after the site on behalf of the freehold owners, Tesco Plc.

Now it is still possible to visit the Tesco store itself, and then walk the full length of the store to reach the main entrance, courtesy of some parking stands bat the southern entrance, adjacent to the library. Yet between these two ends, there is a whopping 540m to walk, a distance that is totally unreasonable to make cycling convenient and attractive, just as Coventry City Council’s own policies say it should be.

Although the planning application is only for signage, objections can still be made on any material grounds, and there is precedent from the Alvis Retail Park scheme, where cosmetic changes were made to the store frontages, with cycle parking being added as a condition.

It’s time the same was done here.

Application reference: ADV/2016/0137

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