Modern roads are too dangerous to encourage cycling

From: N Taylor, Winton Road, Northallerton.

I READ with a certain disquiet the piece by Andrew Vine (The Yorkshire Post, June 17) on attitudes to cyclists. Commendable in its intent; confusing in its construction; and questionable in its conclusion.

Why is it a ‘laudable aim’ to get more people cycling? What is the benefit when it can be intimidating and sometimes frightening and a particular worry for parents to be torn between the benefits and the nagging concern for their child’s safety?

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In the 1930s and ‘40s, I cycled literally thousands of miles, mainly around Yorkshire, often with my father, usually on a weekend doing perhaps 110 or more miles in a day, and thoroughly enjoying myself and never ever feeling downright petrified of other traffic, principally horse and carts.

But I grew up and got a motorbike. Papa got a car. We seldom, if ever, used a bicycle again. Now I creak around, no better, no worse than many of my age group.

To quote the Grand Départ of Le Tour de France as an instrument to engender a desire to cycle, I find ludicrous.

There are plenty of other sports in which to indulge and most of them within an area specifically set aside, such as cricket, football, tennis, bowls, speedway, rally cars, and so on ad infinitum. And hiking, fell walking, swimming and athletics are worthy of mention. At all of which I tried my luck at, without fame but plenty of reward.

Bicycle road racing is a minority sport and at the same time a very arrogant sport. It demands police intervention, the closure of public amenities and discomforts citizens. In France it has done nothing to advance sport, tourism, or health since its inception in 1905. The opposite, perhaps, with in-fighting, and drug use.

All this to see an advertising cavalcade of 250 vehicles (this is a bicycle race?), to wait over two hours while these pass, and then see the leader of a flurry of bicycles flash past in seconds.

Now go home – if you can. The greatest circus on earth, or, the biggest pantomime ever? In France a lot of the spectators clear off once they’ve got their ‘freebies’, and that is just one stage out of over 20.

The Highway Code item 101 clearly asks that when overtaking cyclists “Give them as much room as you would a car”. In today’s traffic is that possible?

Until we get rid of motor vehicles, I contend that it is positively dangerous to encourage a child onto the road with a bicycle.