Cycling is enjoying a renaissance in the UK, no doubt helped by the fact that Froome, Wiggins, Pendleton, Trott and of course Hoy all turned hopes and dreams into reality and pride when they created their own Olympic legacy at London 2012. Both the number and variety of cyclists in the UK is definitely on the increase, and it’s great to see.
Fortunately, this hasn’t escaped the attention of road safety officers and, in the Midlands; their focus has turned to the needs and issues of cyclists on the road. With the ultimate aim of reducing cycling casualties, Road Safety GB Mercia region has just launched the ‘What Matters Most’ campaign, using on-road ad van posters, a dedicated website and Facebook page; and the offer of free, downloadable posters for anyone wishing to support cyclists’ safety.
The Road Safety GB Mercia region incorporates twelve city, borough and county council authorities and is also supported by the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia. Overall, this means that the campaign should reach drivers and other road users across the whole of Birmingham and a large part of the West and South Midlands. Leading the campaign is Stephen Rumble, Road Safety Officer for Warwickshire County Council; who, as a keen sportive and leisure cyclist that also frequently rides 17 miles to work, has a unique take on the issues.
Stephen Rumble explains the campaign. “Our initial focus is on educating drivers to appreciate the needs and vulnerability of all cyclists on the road. Although we have other ideas for later campaigns, we will start by highlighting how easily people allow themselves to be distracted by things that are much less important than the safety of others. Many modern vehicles now have satellite navigation, air conditioning, electronically adjustable settings for everything and an entertainment system as sophisticated as anything at home. Add to this a mobile ‘phone, drinks, snacks and other daily paraphernalia in the vehicle and it is hardly surprising that many people are not paying attention to what matters most. Drivers are often at fault when involved in a collision with a cyclist and a frequent problem is – simply – a failure to look properly and to plan ahead. Given the relatively greater risk of serious injuries to a cyclist, it is their safety that leads this campaign.”
Casualty statistics suggest that the greatest number of cycling collisions occur on main arterial routes, with 30mph speed limits, in urban environments. They are also more frequent in rush hour traffic, but particularly between 4pm and 8pm on week days.
The ‘What Matters Most’ campaign will incorporate ad van posters travelling on key routes at busy times, so as to be seen by the maximum number of road users. A website will provide extensive information and advice for both drivers and cyclists.
Stephen Rumble continues, “The website is intended as an information resource and has been created by both cyclists and drivers. On the page entitled ‘What cyclists want drivers to know’. . , our aim is to take drivers out of their comfort zone and place them in the saddle . . . just for a moment. Hopefully, this will give a greater appreciation of cycling issues, as well as explaining some of our habits, actions and obligations as fellow road users. To ensure that visitors to the website can see a balanced approach to road safety, it will also feature information from drivers for cyclists. More than anything, we just want to highlight that every road user is a person and we are all just trying to get from A to B.”
Anyone wishing to download and display a free campaign poster should visit www.whatmattersmost.org.uk and go to the “Get Involved” page.
The campaign has already been endorsed by the CTC and Professor David Cox OBE, Chair of CTC, said “With an increasing number of cyclists on our roads, it is crucial that drivers see them early, take extra care when passing and remain particularly vigilant at junctions. CTC is delighted to be associated with the What Matters Most campaign and hope it will nurture better understanding, highlight cycling issues and ultimately, save lives.”
For more information about the campaign, go to www.whatmattersmost.org.uk