Will auto drivers ever learn to share the road with bikes?

In many car-centric cities around the world, drivers still think they own the whole road with cyclists merely unwelcome interlopers. So how do you go about changing this mindset?

Looking around at our streets, its startling when you first notification it: like waking from a dream and forgetting wherever you. A moment of disorientation as your eyes make sense of the darkness and see the room for what it is.

After that, its unmistakable: our streets are not our own. From the parked vehicles that line the roads to the traffic that speeds along them, in many of our cities we are second-class citizens if were not inside a motor vehicle.

The incident in which Tv presenter Jeremy Vine alleged he had been intimidated and assaulted while riding his motorcycle on a west London road is not uncommon but it is a reminder of just how deep we are in thrall to the motor car.

Research on drivers positions to cyclists has shown that people in car-centric countries such as the UK sometimes dont position those on motorcycle and on foot as proper road users, and at times treat them as if they shouldnt be on the road at all.

This isnt the suit everywhere: some countries, and their cities, prioritise those who stroll and cycle when they design their streets. Cycling or walking in the Netherlands is a joyful experience infrastructure caters for walk-to and cycling, and drivers respect those outside of cars.

Cycling UKs campaigns and communications coordinator, Sam Jones, believes part of certain differences is in attitude: that while people grow up cycling in continental Europe, and continue into old age, in countries with a problem of auto predominance it tends to be younger, or middle-aged people, cycling.

In car-centric countries cycling is often viewed as a athletic for young-ish, healthy people( often men ), rather than a mode of transport for all demographics, so its perhaps not such a stretching to conclude a cycling journey is considered less important than a vehicle trip-up. Storekeepers resistance to bike lanes on the basis only drivers spend money also untrue is another illustration of this.

Walkers
Walkers and cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, where many of the citys car-centric policies were redrawn under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photo: Mario Tama/ Getty

As Cycling UKs road safety and legal campaigns policeman, Duncan Dollimore, sets it, people pass their driving exam as teens, and dont always accommodate their driving as roads become busier with more cyclists whose behaviours they may not understand. Cyclists are often seen as an out group, making it easy to attribute many of the problems on the road to them.

Walking charity Living Streets head of policy, Tom Platt, says that whether we walk, cycle or drive regularly, the route the street is designed makes people react in a certain way when theyre in a vehicle. It gives them cues.

Cues could be anything from guard rails on pavements giving the impression that this is a automobile space, keep off, to splayed junctions encouraging people to drive into residential roads at speed.

A classic instance of how these cues affect our behaviour is the school operate. A generation ago, 70% of people in England walked to school; now it is less than half. People walk less and cycle less; that gives an indication that they dont feel safe, says Platt.

Living Streets research suggests the aggressive crush of motor vehicles outside the school gates is the main reason people drive their children, rather than strolling or cycling with them, each day.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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