Reader Letter: Leave cyclists alone, it’s cars that cause the most trouble

Gentleman's Walk, Norwich. Picture: Dan Grimmer

Gentleman's Walk, Norwich. Picture: Dan Grimmer - Credit: Archant

I request to be allowed a 'one off' in-depth response to the criticisms of the proposals for cycling facilities in Norwich and of cyclists.

Firstly, with regard allowing cycling in some pedestrian areas. I hold the figures for accidents to pedestrians specifically on pavements 1994-2004 for all vehicle types.

Cyclists caused the least by huge margins. By far the most, including fatalities, were caused by cars.

MORE: On or off your bike? Debate over whether cyclists should be allowed to ride down more Norwich city centre streetsI suggest it is plausible many of those were due to drivers manoeuvring in congested areas, the congestion caused by so many drivers on short journeys that could have been done by other means.

Some might respond, yes but obviously if you allow cycling in pedestrianised areas accidents to pedestrians will increase. That is not the evidence.

Everywhere it has been proposed to allow cycling in pedestrian areas there were letters to local papers saying it is obvious there will be accidents.

However, once implemented it has not happened. It has also helped the local economies by more people going to those areas, not less.

MORE: Reader Letter: Cyclists should be on pathsIt is not my observation there are few cyclists in Norwich but we need more of them for all the good reasons exhaustively explained.

There is plenty of evidence from all over the UK that providing the right infrastructure works, as, despite the claims of some, it is in Norwich. Not as much as us activists would like but such things do not happen overnight. It is a work in progress.

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One of the problems is that many of Norwich's cycling facilities are not linked up. Hopefully in time that will be rectified and allowing cycling in some pedestrianised areas is part of that.

MORE: Reader Letter: Cyclists, it's time you grew up!Let's be clear however, that off-road facilities are for less confident cyclists and encouraging more cycling.

Drivers need a licence to be on the roads whereas cyclists have an automatic right.

Of course it is not an excuse for bad behaviour and Cycling UK does not, for example, condone cyclists ignoring red lights.

However, accident data indicates it is drivers ignoring them who are injuring and killing pedestrians.

If the costs of cycling provision are analysed they are found to be miniscule compared to those for providing for motor vehicles, even at £1,000 per metre.

Of course it should still produce a good return. I reiterate in the medium to long-term it does.

MORE: Reader Letter: Cyclists in Norwich should pay road taxI better finish now but there is so much more I could say. Just a final point that around 79pc of cyclists, myself included, also drive.

By using our bikes instead of our cars, whether on-road or off-road we are helping make it easier for fellow drivers.

Therefore in response to Linda Meads cars passing in opposite directions in country lanes is more problematic than passing cyclists.

John Thompson, Cycling UK, campaigner (Waveney, Suffolk, Regional campaigner for eastern England)