Bike Nation: How Cycling Can Save The World

Bike Nation, by Peter Walker

I play with the traffic every time I cycle to and from work. About 20% of my return journey is on segregated cycle path, but another 70% of my journey is on cycle lanes, all of which leave just a line of white paint between me and the traffic passing me. 10% of my journey requires me to cycle alongside all other road users.

To be fair, my commute is relatively safe, compared with those that others face. However, there are two places – a roundabout and a turn-right junction – which leave me feeling vulnerable and exposed. I could ride on the footpath and cross three roads, acting as a semi-pedestrian (instead of cycling around the roundabout), or use three pedestrian crossings (instead of using the turn-right junction), but I shouldn’t have to do that, and I do not do so. Instead, I make sure that my road positioning is ‘assertive’, I wear a high-viz vest in the dark, I display two lights back and front, and I make sure my hand signals are as clear as possible. Most road users respond well to this approach, but there are others who ‘buzz’ me as they overtake, and/or they simply drive past too close.

Peter Walker’s premise in his book is that I shouldn’t have to be exposed to the dangers of motorised transport in this way, that I should feel safe on the roads, and that transport planning has to change, such that more people feel safe enough to choose cycling as their ‘go to’ everyday transport . But how do we change minds?

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