Bike versus pedestrian

In Perm a conflict has arisen involving the authorities, the police and cyclists. The police announced a cycling ban along the Kama embankment, one of the most popular places for people to go for a stroll. “The embankment is only for pedestrians; any type of traffic is not permitted” it was announced with a promise that fines would be imposed fines for those failing to comply.

Discussion has been active on social media platformswith some sharp criticism for the authorities for imposing the restriction, but others say that cyclists pose a threat to the safety of pedestrians, especially children. The criticism has been that much greater because in the last few years very little has been done in Perm to develop cycling infrastructure. As a result, no-one has been fined, and there has been a promise to open the embankment to cyclists at certain times. Deputy Head of Perm’s Administration, Lyudmila Gadzhiyeva believes it is essential to learn to take account of the interests of all citizens.

Such problems are typical of many large cities. There are more and more cyclists, but the infrastructure for them is clearly inadequate. As a result, there are safety issues. In Perm in 2018 there were 68 accidents attributable to cyclists in which three people died and 124 people were injured.  Three cyclists have died in Oxford in the last three years. The main reason for traffic accidents is the absence of proper cycle lanes. In Perm the first cycle tracks appeared ten years ago, but since then hardly any new ones have been built.

In Oxford, there are two streets where cyclists are banned during the working day between 10am and 6pm (Queen Street and Cornmarket Street). Alison Hill, Chair of the Cyclox Cycling Association tells us that the organisation is running an active campaign seeking permission for movement along Queen Street but she understands that the rules have little chance of being changed since this would create conflict between cyclists and pedestrians: “However, there is a great deal of evidence that when cyclists and pedestrians share a space, they are much more respectful of each other and confrontations are very rare. As always, the problem is a question of perception of risk, many complaints come from pensioners or organisations representing blind people, who think that the presence of cyclists in common street spaces is inappropriate”, says Alison Hill.

Cyclox together with the police, the University and Oxford local councils has produced a leaflet on the rights and obligations of cyclists, which is now given out with every cycle which is bought or rented in Oxford. In addition, the police carry out an annual crackdown on irresponsible cyclists, issuing fines which can be avoided by presenting a receipt for the purchase of the necessary items (rear and front lights compliant with the law). In other words, they do not simply punish offenders, but give them an alternative – to protect themselves and other road users by equipping their cycles in the correct manner.

A good example of a city with a positive attitude towards cyclists is Copenhagen. The city set itself the target of increasing the number of journeys made by bike to 50% of all journeys made per day. The authorities in the Danish capital are both creating the right conditions for cycle use, and also introducing disincentives to cars (primarily by reducing the number of parking spaces).

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