LTDA, cyclists and red light jumping

In quick response to the videos made by the LTDA, apparently showing that just over 50% of cyclists jumped red lights at two junctions over one hour in rush hour, I have three little points to make:

  1. Their evidence is obviously statistically unsound.
  2. They want to draw the focus away from actual danger to lawbreaking.
  3. Despite what they say, they want to blame cyclists as a whole for the crazy environment we have to use, and they are using that as an excuse to keep the crazy environment.

First, this evidence is statistically unsound. The samples are way too small to even begin to help us think about what these numbers mean in the wider picture of cyclist behaviour, that can’t possibly be represented by such a tiny sample, and obviously anyone could edit together a load of cyclists jumping red lights, the same could be done for taxi drivers.

Second, the focus on lawbreaking rather than danger is wrong. The LTDA say that they’re against the “unlawful cycling brigade”, whoever they may be. I suspect they don’t have meetings. It’s obviously a response to media outrage over the recent spate of deaths in London, and the generally excellent campaigning work of the LCC. The LTDA is opposing cyclists campaigns for spaces where they can be safe, likely because they see cycle facilities as damaging for their trade. A focus on danger rather than lawbreaking probably wouldn’t serve them so well, who kills more people, taxis or cyclists? I don’t know, but I’d take a safe bet that it’s taxis. Still, we can’t deny that at two junctions over short a period of time, quite a large proportion of cyclists went through reds, and that this is illegal.

Third, cyclists are a minority, and are blamed for the crazy environment that they have to work with. This is why it’s so important to focus on infrastructure, and the people who would become cyclists in the future when it’s seen as a safe, normal activity to partake in. Cyclists who jump reds sometimes argue that they are doing so for the preservation of their own safety, and that opens them up to the dual criticisms of “cycling is really dangerous, so you shouldn’t do it if you want to be safe” and “I see cyclists do insane/illegal things all the time, so it can’t be that”. I maintain that cycling is rational for me, the risks are fairly small and well worth what I get out of it in convenience and health. Most people don’t agree, they never try it because city cycling really does look like a truly terrifying thing to do.

Only when cycling is a mainstream pursuit will we be able to defend ourselves from “minority attacks” like these.