A lead editorial in today’s The Times mentions the death of a cyclist close to the Olympic park on Wednesday night, contrasting this sad news with the earlier celebrations surrounding the victory of Bradley Wiggins in the time trial.[Oddly, the newspaper ignores Raleigh and Pashley, when mentioned great British bicycle brands. It also says cycling without a helmet is foolish].
The Times thunders thus:
"The British, increasingly, are bicycle enthusiasts. Some of our greatest sporting heroes have ridden to both victory and household ubiquity on two wheels. British bicycle-makers — such as Brompton, Dawes, Ridgeback and Saracen — rival the best in the world. British enthusiasts and commuters are pedalling across British cities in ever greater, ever more enthusiastic numbers. This is a country crying out for a safe and sensible cycling infrastructure. And yet, too often, it has next to none.
"Cycling without a helmet is foolish, and cycling while plugged into headphones, as terrifying numbers still do, is something closer to imbecilic. But a debate on such behaviour — and on the linked tendency of some cyclists to flout the rules of the road — only arises because of the dangers posed by too many of Britain’s roads. In Denmark, in the Netherlands, in much of Germany, the precise habits of cyclists are nobody’s priority. They do not need to be.
"Our manifesto for cycling is ambitious. Cycle safety and the improved awareness of other road users — particularly lorry drivers — are, of course, important, as is a significant reallocation of government transport spending . But The Times is arguing for a comprehensive rethink about how British cities ought to be.
"A few daubs of blue paint in the middle of four-lane roads are not enough. Britain must put the bicycle at the centre of urban planning. At present, our road system too often puts cyclist and motorist in direct confrontation. This is frequently a harrowing experience for both, and far too often a fatal one for the former.
"In expertise as well as sheer participatory enthusiasm, cycling is becoming a major British national sport. It is also a cheap, healthy and enjoyable way of getting around. It must be safe, too."