Britain in the grip of road rage crisis?

Cycling campaigners on UK TV tonight

Road Rage: The Battle for Britain’s Roads promises to explore the what the programme makers perceive to be a growing conflict between cyclists and motorists in the country.

On the table are issues which get both sides hot under the collar, including red light jumping, pavement riding, cycle lanes and speed limits.

The show’s publicity blurb shouts: “Britain is in the grip of an escalating road rage crisis.

“This special investigation exposes just how bad the situation has become, as violence and abuse in the war between motorcyclists, cyclists, wardens and police escalates without any solution in sight.”

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy manager for the Cyclist’s Touring Club, was interviewed for the programme. The CTC is now the largest cycling membership body in the UK, and is actively campaigning on several fronts, including reducing speed limits.

Speaking exclusively to BikeRadar, Mr Geffen said: “They were asking, ‘Is there a lot of anger when you’re cycling? How do cyclists feel about drivers?’

“It’s an opportunity to explore the fact that there is quite a lot of conflict, and same time to say, that’s not how it should be.”

The CTC is calling for a 20 mile an hour limit on most roads in towns and cities, to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. But how to persuade speed camera hating motorists that lower speed limits are a good idea?

“Ultimately, we’ve got to get attitudes right,” says Mr Geffen. “That means changes in the law.

“That’s what happened with drink driving - the changes in attitude have been achieved by awareness campaigns and backed up by law enforcement so that gradually the public comes round and says that drink driving is not right.

“When the law first came in people said a couple of drinks while driving didn’t matter. Now some drivers are saying exactly the same thing about speeding.

“The number of drivers breaking the speed limit is declining. The number of people who say it’s acceptable to drive at 40mph in a 30mph limit area is declining. It’s still far too high, but it’s turning in the right direction.”

Mr Geffen believes lower limits are essential to allow cyclists to co-exist with drivers safely.

“The safer it is, the more cyclists there will be. The more cyclists there are, the safer it then gets," he says. "What we want to see is a 20mph limit as the norm for urban streets. That doesn’t mean every single street in a built up area but councils can have exemptions to the 30mph limit and have 20mph here and there. We’re proposing it should be the other way around.”

According to the assistant producer of Road Rage, Avigail Cenci, red light jumping – a sore point for motorists – will also be discussed in the show. But red light jumping is not a black and white matter according to some cyclists, who say it’s safer to pedal through a junction than sit at it alongside inattentive drivers who may put them in danger when they pull off.

Mr Geffen said: “We don’t condone law breaking by cyclists, or any group. But if the law is putting cyclists in a position where they are having to choose between what is legal and what is safe, then something ought to be done about the way the law is working, and the way the streets are regulated - whether than means additional advanced stop lines or even advanced stop lights for cyclists, to allow them to move off before the HGV behind them starts moving off.”

Road Rage: The Battle for Britain’s Roads airs on BBC1 tonight (Monday January 7) at .


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