Last Friday, over 1000 cyclists staged a ‘Die-In’ outside Transport for London’s offices. As far as I can see, this basically involved people lying down on the road with their bikes, as if dead.
I’m sure (fairly sure) these cyclists meant well, but I don’t think pandering to the majority of Londoners’ fears about cycle safety is going to further the cycling agenda in the capital.
If you think that sounds heartless, then consider this fact: on the day of the Die-In, hundreds of thousands of cycle journeys were completed in the capital and nobody died. And nobody died the day before that. Or the day before that. And so on, until you get back to the spate of cycle deaths a few weeks ago.
The thorny question of who is to blame for those deaths seems to have obscured the fact that there have been relatively few cycle deaths this year as a whole. Also obscured is the possibility that the recent deaths were simply accidents. In turn, the obsession with blame obscures the question of why accidents occur.
When I cycle in London, I try to minimise my chances of getting into an accident involving a truck or bus: I cycle on quieter streets where buses and trucks don’t go, or if I can't avoid busy streets I get off and push for a while. (Please insert your favourite car insurance comparison website marketing slogan here).
I try to encourage the readership of Cycle Lifestyle to do the same. In a similar vein, I am campaigning for a London Cycle Map and network of colour-coded routes on safer streets, to help all cyclists avoid the most dangerous roads and junctions in the capital.
Alas, the London Cycle Map Campaign remains almost entirely unreported on by the mainstream media or by cycle campaign groups. Die-Ins make catchy headlines. But catchy headlines don’t necessarily make for good democracy. Maybe we should have a Die-In for democracy.