Cycling in the media: HGVs, helmets and making our roads safer for families

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s already been a cycling-heavy week in the media - BBC Breakfast is running a week of ‘special reports on cycling’ from 3-7 November. Yesterday, Chris Boardman told the nation that he doesn’t cycle in London and wouldn’t let his children because it’s ‘not a pleasant thing to do’, prompting a huge response – not least because he chose not to wear a helmet, provoking outrage from some. (For our thoughts on the helmet debate, see here – in a nutshell, we agree with Chris, who responded to concerns on the BBC and on the British Cycling website. The Mirror also ran a piece looking at the arguments about helmet laws, with a poll.)

BBC Radio London focused their attentions on what could be done to get more families cycling. They interviewed Mark Williams, Cabinet Member for transport for Southwark Council, who’ve launched a consultation on which roads in their borough feel unsafe. Mark said that Southwark want to make cycling as easy as possible and make cycling safe through better designs, so people feel confident to get around the borough by bike.

He added, “What we need to do is get the design of these junctions right and work with parents and indeed work with schools as well to make them as safe as possible, and also provide more education and training for both parents and children. But at the end of the day it comes down to making sure that there’s space for everyone on our roads, that it’s clearly marked out, where needed it’s clearly segregated, and at those places where it’s traditionally been quite difficult to get those solutions that we take that challenge on and make those changes.”

Later in the show they interviewed LCC’s very own Tom Bogdanowicz. He said it’s very sad that Chris Boardman has to say things he did because things really shouldn’t be that way, and that’s why London Cycling Campaign campaigns for space for cycling. Tom said: “In Holland, 50% of children cycle to school. In London, a lot of parents want their children to cycle to school because it’s good for their health. 1 in 5 children have an obesity problem. We want to be able to let them cycle to school. So we need to improve conditions in London; they need to be as good as they are in Holland, and then we will be able to cycle to school with our children, or our children will be able to cycle by themselves.”

You can listen to the piece here - Tom’s interview starts at 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Yesterday BBC News also published a piece titled ‘How safe is cycling’, which makes some good points, though doesn’t mention that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks. A line that read ‘Cyclists should bear in mind that statistics show they need to be extra careful around heavy goods vehicles’ was later edited to read ‘It's worth bearing in mind that the statistics show the extra danger around heavy goods vehicles’ following some constructive criticism on social media.