EARLIER this week I was nearly killed by a motorist on the A6120 Leeds Outer Ring Road while cycling towards Horsforth. I was overtaken by driver at high speed (the limit being 60mph) with inches to spare.
Not that it matters, but it was very sunny, visibility was excellent, I was wearing a bright orange T-shirt, and I had two sets of rear facing flashing lights.
As they passed me, they shouted at me to pull out of the way. Alas, there is nothing in the Highway Code saying that shouting abuse at a cyclist is a substitute for leaving enough space when you pass them.
Despite having cycled thousands of miles, most of them on rides that have helped raise nearly £25,000 for charity, this is the first time that a driver has left me so scared that I couldn’t get to sleep.
I’ve finally splashed out on an action cam so that, in future, I can report any such incidents to the police. If I wasn’t an experienced cyclist – if I was teaching a child to ride or learning myself for the first time, as many people are right now – this incident could be enough to put me off cycling for life.
But this shouldn’t be happening. While we’re dealing with a global health crisis that is fundamentally changing the way that we live as a society, we need to remember that there is a second environmental crisis going on, and that we need to be making significant adjustments to how we live our lives if we want to limit the damage we have already done.
Our Government has recently announced the biggest investment in roads in a generation. With the transport now the biggest source of CO2 emissions, how can we be considering new roads at a time like this?
We don’t need to start from scratch – the Dutch have shown how this can be achieved successfully to create more pleasant towns and neighbourhoods with an improved range of options for short, medium and long distance journeys.
Around the world, many cities have taken significant steps to create experimental bike lanes and wider pavements. While thousands of people have commented on an interactive map of how cycling and walking could be improved across many of the county’s cities, I’ve seen very little concrete progress in either Leeds or Bradford. If we don’t provide genuine choice for residents so that they can leave their car at home for shorter journeys, our roads will once again fill up and the opportunity will have been missed.
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Sincerely. Thank you.