When love came to town. Pt. III

Have to hand it to the folk at the West Sussex County Times – they’ve done a grand job of following up on the Tour of Britain visit to Horsham and here they’ve collected a great cross section of images from the day.

I’ve no idea what the half-life of this love of cycling and cyclists will be in the town and wider district but I’m choosing to view it optimistically.

When love came to town

On Saturday I was very, very proud of Horsham. People turned out in their thousands to cheer on the men competing the Tour of Britain. The banners and the bunting were out and the roads were subject to a rolling road closure. Albion Way, our ghastly town centre dual-carriageway was shut and the west-bound, southern-side, given over to the needs of pedestrian spectators.

And when the first cyclists came by; a policeman, a couple of chain gangs, the odd solo rider, none of whom were competing in the event, well, frankly, the crowd went wild.  Clapping, cheering, waving flags, and generally emitting positivity towards cyclists.  When the racers themselves came through an hour later the crowd, hugely swelled as it felt as if the whole town had turned out, went nuts. Bananas.

What a comparison with how it feels to ride on that road normally.  Horns will be sounded. Angry gesticulations from frustrated drivers accusing our two-wheeled friends from “holding up traffic.” Confrontation. Bullying.

What a contrast to Saturday.  Could it be that the Tour of Britain might actually kick-start an attitude change locally? Fingers crossed. but not when grasping the handlebars obviously.

A chain of events

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.


Leaving the comfort zone on two wheels

Last week my local newspaper published a letter on its pages that was a little anti-cycling and anti-cyclist…

Are the new proposed ‘no cycling’ signs ordered by Horsham town centre, meant to stop cycling, or are they just going to be more wasted money on ‘posh’ street furniture?

I wonder what makes HDC think that cyclists will take notice of signs, ‘posh’ or not. They already ignore them through the subway to North Street and the park, plus other areas, and rarely use the two cycle lanes provided on the road in North Street.

Without proper policing, it’s a waste of time and money.

How about making cycle riders have some form of identification, i.e. number plates on their bikes, and insurance too?

Anything to make pavements and pedestrian areas in the town safer for walkers!

I found myself inordinately ticked-off by this and my reply wasn’t the most temperate response I have ever given… (more…)