Cyclists on a rural road

Cycling Up, Road Deaths Up – Respect Rural Road Users

Cyclist deaths soar on rural roads in England is a depressing headline this morning from the BBC. The good news is that cycling has increased massively during the pandemic. The bad news is that deaths on rural roads have increased by nearly 50% in each of 2020 and 2019. In response British Cycling and MFU Mutual have come up with a set of advice for rural road safety. Much of it makes sense. But is advice to ‘use lights in the day to be seen’ victim blaming? Are people advised not to buy grey cars? Or only buy small slow cars if using country roads?

For me part of the solution to reduce fatalities is to allow cyclists more access to off-road paths. Yes ‘foot’ paths. Too many bridle paths just end in a foot path so the classification is nonsense. For example the bridge over the A14 in this route between Ipswich and Alton Water is classed as a bridle path. At the arrow on the map the path changes to a foot path. On the ground it obviously takes farm traffic all along its length.

Respect for All

Obviously some people would just rather ride on the road, and that’s fine by me. Pushing people onto fast rural roads because of arbitrary classification – that’s not OK, in my opinion. The only way to cycle to Alton Water from Ipswich without using a fast rural road is to use a track that is classified as a foot path. So I ride routes of all sorts. I also do my best to respect other rural road and path users be they on foot, horseback, motorbike, car or lorry. A smile or a wave of thanks if someone has paused for an opportunity to overtake – every little helps.

Tricky subject balancing the safety of different groups of people, is there a right answer, what do you think?

Main picture: David Hawgood, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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