One of the challenges that faces local authorities who want to pedestrianise areas is stopping motor traffic from entering the area.
Locally I’m often appalled at the speed and frequency of cars on East Street in Horsham, our oh-so-strange “cars amongst the pavement cafés semi-pedestrianised hybrid sometimes-yes-sometimes-no” local fudged compromise between the demands of motor-addicted and those who choose to walk or cycle. Cycle? In a pedestrianised area, even a part-time pedestrianised area with little enforcement outside office hours and thus with a whole heap of wiggle room for the car reliant? Well yes. East Street is, of course, a legal LA-approved 24/7 cycle route and I’ve been vocal in the past with the local council and the county council to ensure it stays that way.
But sometimes councils get their traffic restriction measures really badly wrong with lethal results for vulnerable road users. Read this, watch the video, and weep for Rhodri Hughes-Jones, a 69-year-old, experienced club cyclist who died riding his bike because some idiot didn’t think about the potential consequences of stringing a plain chain between two bollards in a public place.
And note the traffic cones were not strung onto the chain until after Mr Hughes-Jones’ fatal accident.
The usual voices, no doubt driven insane by the lead they used to put in petrol, will indulge in their usual victim blaming. Was he wearing a helmet? Who cares, the helmet didn’t cause him to crash, the chain was the proximate cause of his demise. Was he going too fast to see the chain? Who cares, why the hell should he expect to find himself confronted with a chain in the first place?
Why was the chain there? Because drivers cannot be given an inch without them taking a mile and then some. Because car use has become so normalised that it dominates every street, every public place, it is the only consideration given thought to, even in those spaces intended to be car free.
But, at the end of the day, what’s one more dead cyclist? Unless, of course, it is you, or someone you care for.