Cycling home this week, I was pleased to note that Cardiff council had decided to maintain the ‘Bute Park trial’, a decision to leave Bute Park open to cyclists until 7pm during the winter gloom. A quick squint at the image left – provided by Cardiff Council on the gates of the park – shows why this is so important. When the park is closed, cyclists heading home across the city have to contend with two traffic choked ‘A’ roads, flirting with disaster in a manner akin to playing the role of the frog in the classic ‘80s game ‘Frogger’. So bravo Cardiff council for applying some common sense. Well done you. A well deserved pat on the back.
….But…. hang on….what are these bloody leaflets being handed out to cyclists in the centre of the city? Bizarrely, Cardiff Council and South Wales Police have launched an orchestrated campaign to crackdown on cyclists (both innocent and guilty) who ‘dangerously’ cross pedestrianised Queen St, jump red lights and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves (details here). PCs and PCSOs Issue on the spot fines and chasing cyclists down, Baywatch style (slow mo determined running to wrestle perp to the floor; only with more clothes on) before slapping them in irons. Ok, rules are rules. That much is clear. Despite a successful trial to use Queen st before 10am and after 4pm, we’re not currently allowed to cycle despite the lack of cycle provision to safely cross the city centre. Hassling pedestrians and running red lights is clearly naughty and I entirely agree. But what I find completely bizarre is the decision to intimidate cyclists by apparently tarring all of us with the same brush AND not dealing with the true problem (safe cycle routes). So much for encouraging people to use bikes eh? The Taff trail may be a wonderful resource in Cardiff, but its only useful if you’re travelling North to South and Bute Park only helps on the periphery of the civic centre. Everday I ride around the outskirts of Queen St (Boulevard De Nantes and Newport Rd) and believe me, the traffic is thick, fast and unrelenting, so let’s not rest on our laurels. I sent a message to South Wales Police via Twitter to ask them if they would be leafleting every driver in the city centre, reminding motorists not to speed, park on double yellows, use their phone while driving or……driving through red lights. I’ve recently witnessed so many cars either jumping reds or ‘amber gambling’ that I thought the law had changed and traffic lights only now exist as a form of illuminated entertainment (a bit like disco lights on a big stick). So far, I’ve yet to receive a response. Perhaps they overlooked it 😉
Next Thursday there will be a 3 hour debate in Parliament to discuss cycle safety. This is the first time in many, many years that the issue has been so high on the agenda. You can thank the Times for that. Their rather excellent campaign has truly put cycle issues in the limelight and forced a few bums to twitch nervously. To raise awareness, a number of prominent London bloggers and the London cycling campaign have collectively organised a ride next Wednesday on a circuitous route of central London (starting and finishing at the Mall and taking in Westminster). Subject to a successful realignment of diary commitments, I’m hoping to be there, perched on my Birdy and jutting out my chin in stoic fashion. I’ll miss the eyeballs out fun of a Maindy track session, but hey-ho. Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is.
It seems we’re not the only ones flexing our quads. The latest issue of Bicycle Times dropped through my letterbox this morning, displaying its usual excellent cover art on a very related theme.
Details of the ride can be found on the London cycling campaign pages and may be accessed here.