Many people are too afraid to cycle in Bath – even if they want to – according to the city’s MP Wera Hobhouse.
Herself a keen cyclist, she’s chosen Road Safety Week to hi light their fears and reveals she’s had some ‘unnerving encounters’ herself – while in the saddle.
“I’ve been cycling all my life and cycle to as many of my local meetings as possible’, says Wera. ‘This year I acquired an electric bicycle so that I can tackle Bath’s steepest inclines with ease.
Many of my constituents tell me they are afraid to cycle in Bath and will not allow their children to do so. Based on my experiences, I understand why.
Recently I had three unnerving encounters with motorists within a couple of hours. Two of these involved drivers who literally pushed me to the side of the road. In one case, as I emerged from a narrow tunnel, I had to move onto the pavement as the driver would not make room for me on the road; in the other I was squashed onto the verge of a busy roundabout. Had I been driving a car, they would never dare to do such a thing!
The third incident involved a passing driver shouting a sexist remark at me. Would this have happened had I been driving?!
It’s no wonder that cyclists feel exposed and vulnerable. We are. Too often motorists don’t understand that cyclists are far more vulnerable road users.; cars can kill cyclists not the other way round.
Everyone who uses our roads must behave responsibly.
It’s currently Road Safety Week, part of the reason I feel compelled to write this. We need to think about how we act on Bath’s roads. For cyclists and motorcyclists this means following the rules of the road, riding safely, and confidently with the right protection like helmets and good lights.
For drivers, this means being on the lookout for those on two wheels, driving safely and slowly and giving bike riders plenty of space when overtaking.
The council also have a responsibility here. Bath is at a transport cross roads, as the Clean Air Zone is finalised. Money raised from the CAZ must be spent on cycling infrastructure. We need to move past just ‘encouraging’ people to cycle; we need to enable people to cycle through urban design.
I want to live in a city where is is safe to walk and cycle, where motorists respect and give priority to the more vulnerable road users rather than being impatient and inconsiderate. We should all be able to share our roads safely and respectfully. If we want to get more people cycling we need them to feel safe.”