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The Times launches 'Save Our Cyclists' campaign

Friday 3rd February 2012

The Times has launched a campaign to ‘save Britain’s cyclists’, in response to serious injuries suffered by one of its journalists outside its offices in Wapping, London.

The incident occurred almost three months ago and, though stable, Mary Bowers (pictured) is still not conscious and remains in a trauma unit.

The Times criticises authorities that have neglected to ensure that junctions, like the one where Mary was seriously injured, and many others across London, are changed to enable cars, lorries and cyclists to co-exist safely.

The Times questions why it is not mandatory for lorries driving on city streets to be fitted with sensors and mirrors to pick up cyclists in blind spots; why training for cyclists and drivers on how to share the road responsibly is so poor; and why some junctions are so dangerous that jumping a red light can actually be a safer option than lining up alongside HGVs at traffic lights.

London trails so far behind cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen in terms of infrastructure and legislation to protect vulnerable cyclists and help drivers who are trying to avoid them, adds The Times.

The paper points out that since 2001, while 576 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, 1,275 cyclists have died on British streets.

Laura Fawcett, Mary’s sister, says: “I’m angry that the accident happened and that it was even possible for it to happen. Mary’s nurses said to me that if I’d seen what they see all the time in intensive care I would never cycle again. It is just so random and cruel, but it feels like so many of these things can be prevented by increasing awareness and changing road structures.”

The Times says its cycle safety campaign is not simply to call for safer roads, but also outlines exactly how that can be achieved, in a way that is designed to hold transport authorities and politicians to account.

Click here to read the full feature in The Times.

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Tim, a good point well put. I do have to wonder if Mary had been on a motorcycle or scooter would the response would have been the same? There seems to remain the idea that some groups of road users bring things on themselves because of their transport choice regardless of the actual circumstances of the individual incident and it is high time this changed.

Whether it's in the media or in the courts I believe it is time that we stopped accepting 'I didn't see them' as a viable excuse for killing or seriously injuring another road user.
Dave, Leeds

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In this line of work you can start to sound trite when you say once again that every fatal or serious injury is a needless tragedy, however sincerely it is meant. As the Times article acknowledges, it is only when somone close to you is involved that it really means something. My heart goes out to anyone who knew Mary Bowers and I fully understand the Times'intention to change things for the better.

In welcoming the Times' support for road safety I would encourage them to see the whole picture. In the time period quoted, for every cyclist killed there have been around 3-4 pedestrians and a similar number of motorcyclists killed. There have probably been as many children killed on our streets as soldiers in Afghanistan in the last decade.

The point is not that cyclists don't matter, but that everyone does matter. And to that end a proper strategy and proper investment are essential to make further progress. Not a framework based on more bigger penalties but reduced resources to enforce them.

I welcome any informed and constructive criticism on road safety and would like to see more of it in the media. There is also room for the media to use their influence to promote safer road use by what they chose to publish and not to publish.
I wish the best possible future for Mary Bowers and comfort for her friends and relations. And I sincerely hope that in the aftermath of this tragedy the Times will find ways to use its influence for the safety of all cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and other road users.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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