John Allen was an 86-year-old war hero who survived many extraordinary brushes with death, but was mown down by a cyclist a few weeks ago in Bath and died shortly afterwards. At the age of 19 in World War Two, Allen’s RAF aircraft was shot down over France. He survived the crash and joined the French Resistance in their underground war against the Nazis. Captured by the Germans, he was sent to a Prisoner of War camp in Poland. Sent on a death a march at the end of the war, he was liberated by the Russians. In September of this year, he was crossing a road when he was hit by a cyclist and died two days later. No one has been prosecuted for causing his death.
It is worth marking this death among recent accidents caused by speeding cyclists, because anti-car campaigners in Bath are still holding up cyclists as paragons of travel and an answer to Bath’s transport problems. They are recommending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money be spent on creating an infrastructure that favours cyclists and public transport over cars.
The problem is that a new generation of bicycles made out of lightweight materials are capable of travelling at greater speeds than ever before and that means they can now be as lethal as cars when they hit pedestrians. It is no good spending our money on road systems that encourage cyclists to hurtle along at even higher speeds with little regard for pedestrians.
In Bath, for example, the road running around the Guildhall leading into Bridge Street is now a one-way system with no traffic in the opposing direction to make drivers and, significantly, cyclists slow down as they speed round the corner of the Victoria Art Gallery. Silently charging down this slope, shielded by parked cars, and frequently ignoring the traffic lights, they pose a greater danger than cars to elderly residents as they cross the road near the gallery entrance towards the Podium entrance. I have witnessed several near accidents here caused by speeding cyclists.
Bath councillors should think hard before spending any more of our money creating racing tracks for cyclists in Bath. A combination of public and private transport, cars, buses and bicycles continues to be the best and safest transport policy for our city.
Tim Newark, Bath TaxPayers’ Alliance