The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 236: San Francisco To Wymondham
Thursday 6th February 2020
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUESTS: Geeti Silwal of Perkins Will, one of the prime movers behind getting cars off Market Street in San Francisco; “Dr. X” — the cyclist who was swerved into by a Norfolk motorist for not using a duff cycle path, a road rage incident captured by a following motorist’s dash cam.
Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to episode 236 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was recorded on Thursday February 6 2020.
Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to episode 236 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was recorded on Thursday February 6 2020.
David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at the Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen..
Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s show, I’ve got interviews with an India born American urban designer and a Norfolk hospital doctor. The connection? My recent articles on Forbes.com.
The anonymous Dr. X is the cyclist involved in a shocking road rage incident captured by a following motorist’s dashcam.
But first row the interview with Geeti Silwal of Perkins Will. She was one of the prime movers behind getting cars off Market Street in San Francisco.
This initiative is just over a week old and boosted bicycling from the very first day.
First of all, congratulations on on
getting Market Street. I’d like to say I wouldn’t. I’m not going to say closed. Because it’s not closed. It’s only just closed to motor vehicles. It’s not actually as many people say the road is closed, is it? Right?
Geeti Silwal 2:14
That’s right. And it’s not closed to motor vehicles, too, it’s just closed to private cars. So you have, you have the transit and you have commercial vehicles, you have emergency vehicles, and you have taxis still plying. So there are vehicles it’s not all it’s not all vacated for people as yet.
Carlton Reid 2:40
Was there much doom and gloom from media beforehand of saying well, this will cripple the city? Let’s see what happens you know tomorrow and then everybody’s surprised? What’s what’s been the media response before and after?
Geeti Silwal 2:54
Well, the media definitely I think it’s there’s a lot of excitement and there’s a lot of buzz
about really we are reclaiming our streets and we have an opportunity to kind of experience our city in a completely different fashion. To be honest, I personally think that it might not have changed the experience of pedestrians because we have stolen our sidewalks and there are still vehicles kind of moving in the on the lanes. But if you were to walk Market Street today compared to what it was even last week, it just is a huge change because the number of vehicles in the lanes are so few. And fortunately for people like me who love to jaywalk, I could just cross even when there was a red light and not feel that I was going to be hit by a vehicle but just felt so peaceful, so comfortable and just a completely different place. And I think what I’ve noticed is people are actually talking about it on the streets likeif you want to eavesdrop on pedestrians then
And people that are just crossing the street . Everybody’s talking about, ‘oh, I took transit. And you know, this was so fast, it’s so much better.’ So there’s a positive kind of vibe and a response from media and people in general.
Carlton Reid 4:01
And then on social media, I saw lots of photographs
of the day it actually happened with lots and lots of cyclists. So has that carried on as the cyclists have have carried on coming along the street?
Geeti Silwal 4:33
I think we’ll we’ll definitely Market Street has always been a very popular street for bicyclists. So during commute time you do see a lot of people, a lot of bicyclists. I think people will start getting used to the fact that ‘Oh, this is so much more safer’ than trying to kind of avoid Market Street and find other routes to get around. And I think in coming days, we’ll probably see the
bicyclists mass grow in number that Market Street has always been popular so and during commute hours. there’s always heavy
Carlton Reid 5:12
And I better just ask because Market Street is not like some minor side road Market Street is like a spine road through the centre of downtown San Francisco, isn’t it?
Geeti Silwal 5:25
That’s right. That’s right. It is our It is our it is the identity of this of the city and it is the main spine and it had a lot of challenges primarily because there was just so many demands on that street. It needed to serve as a commercial corridor with a whole lot of retail and different segments. It was the main street for financial financial districts, of course, so a lot of vehicles and
and the number of transit routes that actually touch Market Street is phenomenally large.
I can get back to you on the number I don’t have it on the top of my head. But if you consider the entire corridor both at grade and below grade because the BART tunnel runs,
runs along Market Street underground and the Muni, there are a lot of transit routes that run along this corridor. So they’re a lot of people getting in and out of the subway, in the BART and on Market Street itself. So it is there’s definitely a lot of demand on Market Street.
Carlton Reid 6:33
So you’ve been working well, how long have you working for Perkins and Will?
I have been working for Perkins and Will for over 18 years now.
Carlton Reid 6:42
So you’ve been involved with this from the start, because it was like 10 years ago when Perkins and Will got the contract to make changes?
Geeti Silwal 6:50
That’s right. So Carlton, let’s let me just make it a little clear here in terms of our involvement, Perkins and Will was definitely the lead urban design.
consultant that had brought a team of designers and engineers and landscape architects and refining experts together to kind of compete for the Better Market Street project back in 2011, 2010, 2011. And that was that basically did
start the whole item, the whole project was with the premise that Market Street has to get redone because the utilities on the ground are need to be replaced. They are they have lived their life. So why don’t we take this opportunity to kind of rethink the image and the experience of Market Street. So that’s how it really got started. And the city’s agency, they’re different departments of Public Works, the planning department and the transportation department all kind of came together, and collaborated to kind of really rethink all of these different facets of Market Street. What does it
What does the utility want to be? And how can we make it such that it takes advantage of both the grey infrastructure and the green infrastructure? What do what does it mean for transit efficiency on the streets? And how do we improve that? And from an urban design planning perspective, really, it was about what is the look, feel experience and character of the street. So the city kind of brought together a team that could address all of these aspects. And when we were engaged, we were looking at we will not chargeed to come up with one solution, we were asked to really explore the possibilities. So few years of work actually led to
proposing three potential paths for Market Street. And my engagement, to be honest, was not from the very beginning. There was a large team and you know how over three years of full life project people come and go, I was kind of engaged
on the on the latter half of the project.
And I was project managing it at Perkins and Will, along with Gehl architects out of Copenhagen and CMG Landscape Architecture here locally. We were the key design players helping really think about the possibilities and come up with the options of ‘what if we were to prioritise transit on Market Street?’ and ‘what if there was a dedicated bike lane that basically was sharing some kerbs, some kerb to kerb space with transit and vehicles versus bicyclists be sharing space with pedestrians versus cars being limited on Market Street’ — there were very many options we explored. So sorry, this was a long answer. But the whole idea was that we explored a number of options and we came up with three alternatives which then the city agency departments, kind of
chewed on edge and took out another RFP (request for proposal) primarily to look quite look at multiple permutation combinations of these three alternatives and engaged in environmental planning teams that was a large consultant team. We were not involved in that. But that was a second phase to really look at all the fatal flaws and kind of really look at all the trade-offs. So that’s the more recent Better Market Street work that you’ll probably see the website but it really started with urban design explorations back in 2011, when we led the team.
Carlton Reid 10:35
So the people that can really put a kibosh on these kind of projects are retailers because they often underestimate how many people arrive by by transit, by foot, by bike and overestimate how many people arrive by car, very possibly because they arrived in the morning by car. So was any kickback from retailers or perhaps have retailers been
Geeti Silwal 11:02
Right. You know where the Market Street project really concerned itself from building phase to building space and really phase two building phase and we weren’t really talking so much about the ground floor users. But it was it was a known fact that on Market Street there are segments of Market Street where the retail is really not thriving the Civic Center area, the Mid Market area is kind of
not the most active area and we this was actually an opportunity to really look at the experience of the Market Street. So I would say the project did not necessarily concern itself too much with the ground floor retail use but our hope was that the whatever changes we propose what actually work well and these and work in synergy
with the ground floor use to for the regular use retail users or whatever active users you have on the ground floors, they could find a chance to spill out onto them on Market Street and, you know, right now for before last Wednesday Market Street was never a street where you would just sit and linger and enjoy just passerby or watch people and just hang out because it has a lot of traffic and a lot and a lot of movement that
now with the changes of course people will definitely look at an opportunity to kind of really linger, socialise on Market Street. So the hope is that it’ll actually help the active users on the ground floor. And you know, Market Street did not ever have parking so retailers like to have on street parking, because they say that helps them with people
as they are kind of travellers thing, or commuting on Market Street and they want to kind of stop by and call into an on street parking and hop off and run their errand that Market Street never had a parking lane. So that aspect wasn’t there at all to start with so
not a whole lot of conversation around retail pushback as much because I
hope as I did this is actually going to improve the situation for where it is right now.
Carlton Reid 13:32
Yeah, interesting, like a redevelopment. So years ago for Island press of Washington, DC I wrote a book called Roads Were Not Built for Cars. So this particular sentence in your blog, then jumped out to me because I’ll read it back to you said ‘Streets were never meant to be just streams of vehicles. But unfortunately, somewhere down the line streets became synonymous with cars.’ And of course everybody thinks you know that roads were
brought out of the ether purely for motorcars. But of course, as you know, and as I know, because I’ve written a whole book about it, that’s absolutely not the case.
Geeti Silwal 14:12
Absolutely, I have to read your book. I am definitely interested in
reading it. But you’re right. I think, Carlton, you bring up a good point. You know, as urban designers, and urban planners, we have these metrics about streets ingrained in our head about travel lanes need to be 10 feet to 13 feet, parking lanes need to be eight feet wide. And this is the space we need for trees and a five feet wide tree well will actually provide for a healthy, mature trees. What we don’t have in our head is the space and the metrics for human beings. What are the humanist humanistic metrics that we need to keep in mind as we design streets?
For some reason, that’s not given any importance or not given any weighting and we need to kind of rethink that we need to understand what does it take for a large group together, what does it take for a vendor to sell their wares and also have enough space for true pedestrian traffic or movement on the streets and space for somebody to enjoy and watch passers by, just sit and enjoy passers by so
it would be great if we really start qualifying these dimensions and start
making streets about people and and not to kind of I’m not a strong advocate of saying no vehicles at all; vehicles are important. I just feel strongly that these our streets need more democratic spaces and they need to be about
all modes, all ages, all ability, and we need to start designing that way.
Carlton Reid 16:07
Mmm. So this is a manual problem in that the design manual say these things and that’s if you can’t break out of that. So is this something you can break out of this if you want to? You’re working within the current design manuals. How do you get round the manual problem?
Geeti Silwal 16:28
You’re right, you’re right? I think this is codified and street manual design manuals and requirements of bureau of engineering and public works, or everybody seems to have their ask of the space that as urban designers, we haven’t been assertive enough to put our manuals in our kind of ask of the space as strongly so that’s what gets compromised. You get the travel lanes and you get all the flow of traffic.
And you get the you have the space for the utilities. We need to strongly kind of really have advocate for and champion and together some of clear metrics about people and human beings and what is an enjoyable space and where, what space feels constrained, I mean, there are streets around here.
And not necessarily San Francisco, but in general there were, there are four feet sidewalks, that’s just inhuman.
So you’re right, I think there’s definitely a need to, erm.
And there are guidelines, there are guidelines that organisations like NACTO have put together and have come to come up with really good and clear street-design manuals for different varieties of streets. But we need to kind of embed that in our thinking and
Pick that up and practice that more more
Carlton Reid 18:07
And then you also need politicians to go out on a limb here. So, you said that the Better Market Street project, you know, was was set in train, for want of a better expression, 10 years ago
But the very fact that set in train is important, and you can only set these things in train by political positions by by municipal leaders actually wanting to change their streets.
Geeti Silwal 18:34
Absolutely. Political leadership and political will is is very important here and we definitely had a champions on this project right from
head of city planning, John brown, when when he he was leading this project to
I can come back to you with names that not on the top of my head right now, but the head of
EMTA and public works. They were all coming together and they themselves were at …
… were hoping or one kind of having a lot of debate and discussion to make sure that each of the demands, from a utility perspective, from transportation perspective, and from a design perspective, were being kind of met and there were trade offs and conversations around that. But you’re right. I think it needs to be.
It needs, the train needs to be set off, needs to kind of be initiated by a whole lot of political kind of
insight on a political kind of leadership and stewardship and
Carlton Reid 19:41
Including, and especially the mayor?
Geeti Silwal 19:46
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And there have been very many mayors that have engaged been engaged in this projects in the last decade. And absolutely that it has to come from the mayor but
I would say a lot of responsibility is shouldered by the city agencies and they’ve done a tremendous job in kind of really staying on top of it and making sure that where there was a pushback either from community organisations or if there were either political leaders that were not aligned, they kind of continued to build support around it and and move it forward.
Carlton Reid 20:26
Now I do seem to be doing stories on a rather frequent and rather pleasing frequent basis about you know, the next city to to close streets to motor vehicles so there is there’s absolutely a zeitgeist here isn’t there? There’s something in the water right now that this is happening around the world.
This is not a San Francisco thing, not a New York thing, not a Copenhagen thing. It’s just everywhere, almost.
Geeti Silwal 20:52
And this is not something that is
pioneering or trailblazing in
any way, I think it’s just a little bit of thinking out of the box. It’s existed in Europe for for ever. Streets that are prioritised for pedestrians and bicyclists in an approach and giving them a priority. There are examples outside Europe. I’m and I come from India and the city I grew up in, is Shimla. Which used to be the summer capital of the British Raj and what you all actually did put in place back in Shimla is still is still in place and the main streets in the mall and lower mall area are all pedestrian and closed to traffic. And
those are such enjoyable spaces. So we don’t necessarily need to be kind of really pushing ourselves to think differently. There are really living, beautiful examples all over. It’s just that we need to kind of open our eyes to it and really see the manyfold
benefits of streets that are less about metal boxes on four wheels and more about people and social connectedness and, and finding ways for urban forests that invites the birds and the bugs and the pollinators and really
about making it a place that is connected.
Carlton Reid 22:29
So if you had a blank sheet of paper or if say let’s say you were made mayor tomorrow, and you have a guaranteed a guaranteed 20 year term in which to transform the city, you the absolute dictator of the city and you can do what you want. What What would you do now?
Geeti Silwal 22:49
Great question. Yes, absolutely. You know, I strongly believe in streets
actually being places that create or
leave people with the image of the city they are experiencing. So they are they are the ones that provide the identity of the street. Go to Barcelona or go to whichever city even in Europe or anywhere else, as a visitor your image of the city is your experience on the streets. So streets are occupy about 25% to 30% of the city area. So
finding ways to kind of really figure out how, what is that connective network that needs to prioritise transit and needs to prioritise pedestrians in people is something that all cities should kind of think about. What is that network? It doesn’t mean all streets need to be about really moving away from private vehicles. But what is that what are those corridors or what is that really rich robust network of streets that is that focuses primarily on
transit and focus focuses primarily for making it more walkable for pedestrians and finding ways to put energy and put time and money and invest in those because
beyond parks, streets are the streets ore the public spaces where
city life unfolds itself. So how do we make this a more enjoyable and more pleasant and more comfortable for more people
is something all mayors should focus on irrespective of the length of their term because you’re able to impact positively impact more lives by just making streets more places that instil a sense of pride and dignity in all users, residents and visitors.
Carlton Reid 24:53
I couldn’t agree more but there is this this the tech bros want autonomous vehicles, want driverless cars
in cars in cities, but it does seem that,
going back to like a European ideal, seems to be what’s actually going to get there long before autonomous cars are allowed to drive in cities, you’re going to have civilised, people-friendly cities first, would you agree? Or do you think the driverless cars will will, in effect do what early motor cars did to cities which is rip out their heart?
Geeti Silwal 25:27
Right. You know, I strongly believe that a problem that involves cars cannot necessarily be solved by cars. So yes, autonomous vehicles will be here pretty soon and we need to find ways to how to leverage the positive aspects of that, but
interventions or technology that enables us to experience our streets as pedestrians and bicyclists in a much more pleasant comfortable way
is something that needs to be priortised.
The app based ride hailing
ride hailing apps and and the autonomous vehicles and all of those all of that movement is still focusing on motor vehicles, I feel and yes, there are e-bikes and e-scooters that are providing people other more active modes of kind of getting to their last mile. But
my hope is that the tech world focuses more on active and low carbon kind of modes of intervention and
not have a focus more on on vehicles because the more you focus on one aspect, you get more of it. If you try to make it smoother for vehicles to move around, you’ll probably get you’ll still have a lot of motor vehicles in the street if you focus on other modes and try to prioritise your intervention and
technology on making it much more comfortable and, and safe for other amounts, you probably get more of it. So
we’ll see. We’ll see where this where it goes. But I do think that
problem or challenges that involve cars can’t necessarily be solved with cars no matter what the tech
Carlton Reid 27:25
Thanks to Geeti Silwal of Perkins Will, San Francisco. Before the second half of the show, and that interview with Dr. X. Here’s my co host, David with information on our show sponsor.
David Bernstein 27:39
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And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. Alright Carlton, let’s get back to the show.
Carlton Reid 29:06
Thanks, David. And we’re back with Episode 236 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. I often record interviews with people for my pieces on forbes.com. And then I put the audio on this show, but with my next guest, the recording came afterwards. For the second half of this podcast, I’m speaking with a guest who wishes to remain anonymous he got in touch after reading my Forbes piece headlined “Driving ban for motorist who steered into cyclist not using shared use cycle path.” This story came from a tweet put out there by Norfolk Police, which went a little viral on Twitter, probably because the shocking incident in question was captured on camera. Now, as I’m not naming names I shall call the cyclist Doctor X.
Because well you’re a doctor,
Doctor X 30:04
That Yeah, that’s right. Hello Carlton I am cycle for pleasure and for for exercise for sport for competitive sport. And I also when possible
use my bike to cycle to work and it was on one of my regular commutes to work where the unfortunate incident
Carlton Reid 30:33
So tell us about that unfortunate incident so we’ve I mean I’m gonna guess a lot of people have seen the video but let’s let’s have the radio walk through of that video what what happened?
Doctor X 30:45
So, essentially cycling to work and if I can paint the picture, I this is this is regular exercise for me and so I’m as you’ll see in the in the video
cycling at around 18, 19 miles an hour, and in a in a 30 mile an hour zone when a car pulls up alongside me,
single occupant, driver opens the passenger window and starts
shouting and sharing his displeasure that I was on the road when I should have been on the cycle lane
and that’s what it’s there for, you should use it. And,
and I just started to suggest to him actually that I had every right to be on the road.
And at which point he slowed down and then made a deliberate attempt to, er
I’m not sure whether he was trying to knock me off physically or whether it
was just trying to barge me off the road but he essentially aimed for me
whilst cycling along at a reasonable speed,
Carlton Reid 32:12
And you evaded him basically. So it was that evastion that saved you from harm.
Doctor X 32:19
Absolutely. And you’ll see from the clip that I had to take significant and quick, evasive action. I was quite fortunate It was a low kerb. And so that didn’t trip me over, I was able to go right to the edge of the road and, and avoided contact
aware that if I had contacted his car that I’m sure weighs several terms and a cyclist in Lycra was going to come off worse. And so it was just quick thinking, dived off to the left, and managed to avoid it. He clearly didn’t stop, and er
drove off up the road.
Carlton Reid 33:04
But there was a motorist videoing it on a dash cam.
Doctor X 33:07
well, and I didn’t I didn’t know at the time so I turned to
I don’t know, I suppose in such amazement that somebody had done this. And the gentleman in the car behind waved at me and then and then overtook and I thought,
nevermind, he saw it but there’s nothing that either of us can do about this and it’s only a mile further up the road. I find him stopped in the lay-by
and such is my opinion really of riding along that road. I thought ‘here I go again, we’re going to have yet another heated debate about shared cyclepaths’. But, no, he stopped me told me that he drove for a living
He’d got dash cams and was prepared to support me contacting the Norfolk Police, which I did, I’m very grateful to the Norfolk Police, they took a statement.
And used the dash cam video to secure a prosecution.
Carlton Reid 34:21
We’ll kind of get onto the prosecution in a minute in that that potentially wasn’t the best outcome
considering it was, you know, violence with a with a weapon but I’d like to know about that particular cycle path because it was formerly a pavement. It was formerly a sidewalk it was normally where only pedestrians would go and then the council changed it?
Doctor X 34:46
Absolutely so so
it’s a 30 mile an hour zone
and with houses either side and it it is a pavement.
painted, put some top dressing on it, repainted it and all of a sudden overnight it has become
a cycle path lane, and in in the
general public’s eyes. Unfortunately it really isn’t fit for purpose and it stops and starts at every road junction you you have absolutely no priority.
And along this footpath at 7.30 in the morning when people are trying to cycle for exercise, cycling to to work.
There are pedestrians,
walking children to school, you have people walking dogs with extendable leads. You have people queuing at the bus stop and, worst of all, you have
cars coming out of their homes, out of their driveways that they cannot see across the footpath into the road. So you can imagine that trying to cycle along that bit of footpath at anything more than walking pace is unsafe, both for the cyclist, but also for the many pedestrians that use the footpath as a footpath.
So, sadly, it’s not used and as cyclists we use the road, much to the displeasure of a small group of motorists. Now
Carlton Reid 36:48
If that if that was miraculously made better, you had priority, there was protection, you would use that infrastructure. You’re not against using infrastructure.
I mean there are bits of this that route which are good.
Doctor X 37:05
So so a mile up the road, the cycle path
takes a 20 metre detour away from the edge of the road
and is wide, is is protected from vehicles. And all the cyclists use that use that bit of cycle path, because it’s safe, it’s fit for purpose. And it protects the cyclists and allows the traffic to flow on the road and allows the cyclists to cycle at their speed
safely, without detours, without
any concerns really.
Carlton Reid 37:53
So that aggression that you faced on that day
We can pretty much lay the blame of course at that
driver who shouldn’t be doing what he was doing, but also at the Council for doing a bit of a duff job?
Doctor X 38:08
Yes, it does feel as though
that bit of the cycle lane is very much an afterthought and very much aimed at, erm, I don’t know who because if all the cyclists
came off the road onto the cycle path, I am absolutely convinced that we would have complaints from those people trying to walk their children to school, from those people trying to stand waiting for the for the bus to work. Sadly though, the very presence of the cycle lane appears to have given
a small minority of motorists
almost a licence to either use verbal abuse or hooting of the horns; every day, somewhere along there, someone takes exception to a cyclist using the road, and it’s turned what used to be a very stress-relieving, enjoyable ride.
Often I get I find myself getting more wound up, not de-stressed.
Carlton Reid 39:33
What do you think about the fact that the driver got a 12 month driving ban, but not a conviction for assault using in effect a weapon?
Doctor X 39:45
I, I’m not a lawyer, and I haven’t. So I haven’t studied the law and I don’t
know the definition of a weapon. What I do know is that
shot a gun out of the window and missed, or thrown a knife out of the window and missed
I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t have been dealt with with a driving ban.
using a vehicle, as he did,
is an offence is in my layman’s terms using his car using his car as an offensive weapon.
Now, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very grateful that the Norfolk Police have taken some action
based on the dash cam footage. I’m very grateful to the member of the public who submitted that footage but i just i do
we need some clarity on whether a vehicle is a weapon or not. And looking at that footage, it clearly does look like one.
Carlton Reid 41:14
Now on that particular stretch of cycle path, do you think the solution to stopping that kind of aggression from that motorist and others will be just to take away the the cycle markings there? Or do you think they could if they wanted to actually put some good infrastructure in there instead? What what what what would you like the council to do?
Doctor X 41:38
I as as
someone who cycles, a lot of miles, I’m reasonably confident sharing a road with other users.
But there are a whole spectrum of cyclists and
if I had
I wouldn’t I wouldn’t be comfortable with my young children cycling along that that path as it is cars, you know cars can come blind out of their driveways and disaster could strike. So
catering for the
majority of cyclists, I think, that we do need a cycle lane there; it is a potentially quite a busy road. It has been slowed with speed restrictions, but it is a busy road and it is a commute route from
Wymondham in towards Norwich past Hethersett. So it is a popular cycle route and so there is absolutely no reason why with some proper planning – yes, it will be more expensive –
but we should have proper cycle facilities from Hethersett all the way into Norwich. It’s been demonstrated that they can do it, there is a section that we’ve already alluded to that’s fantastic. The reason why that bit is
so good is because there’s a historic oak tree with all sorts of protection orders on that they couldn’t bypass any other way other than spending
a significant amount of money to produce a proper proper cycle path
Carlton Reid 43:39
Because the council did, I was looking at the press reports from a couple years ago, which which said that the council actually downgraded the plan. So there were there were better plans in place for this particular stretch, and they downgraded them.
Doctor X 43:55
Right And well, this
is a classic example of of what happens when you do that. And if you turn the camera
180 degrees from the view that you see of me, you’ll see that I’ve just cycled past a brand new housing estate that’s being built.
And so the, er
For starters they could have, there’s a lot of people they’re building. Could we have done something before? Once the housing estate is built, I can understand it becomes very much more difficult, but we are actively building in that area.
There’s no excuse for not building proper infrastructure.
And two, secondly, and there are going to be more houses, which means more people, and those people are going to be commuting into the main areas of work from Wymondham.
Carlton Reid 44:59
How far is it from Wymondham to Norwich even though I know that …
Doctor X 45:03
it’s a, it’s a perfect distance, it’s a 10 mile cycle ride.
Now, I understand many people may see that as quite a long way but with the e-bike technology and I am either pass or am passed
several times on my journey by people on e-bikes. So, that is the future we have to look at sustainable transport. But if we are unable to share the road
and you know, let’s face it, we are entitled to share the road. But if we are unable to share the road safely, either because of the perception of drivers or because of the physical size and congestion on the roads, then we have to have proper cycle infrastructure. What we can’t have is footpaths with with bicycles painted on the tarmac
Carlton Reid 46:00
Thanks to Dr. x – hjis story was picked up by the local press and I was invited to discuss the case on BBC Radio Norfolk with presenter Chris Goreham.
As you’ll hear, my opinions of the incident aren’t terribly dissimilar to Dr. X’s.
BBC Radio Norfolk 46:20
And now a driver in Norfolk has been banned for a year after deliberately swerving into a cyclist that police have tweeted footage of the incident which happened to be recorded on a dash cam by a following vehicle. It is quite a shocking incident. You can see a car on the Hethersett road between Wymondham and Norwich pull alongside the bike stay there for a little while, and then deliberately swerve into the rider, many have responded to a Twitter post with anger at the leniency of a driving ban and the £300 fine but some have decided that the bike not being on the cycle path which runs next to that road was more upsetting. Let’s talk to Carlton Reid who runs the website BikeBiz [nope!]
And writes on transport for the Forbes website. Thanks for coming on this morning, Carlton.
Carlton Reid 47:04
Good morning, Chris.
BBC Radio Norfolk 47:05
Good to talk to you. This this incident in particular very shocking, very extreme. But from from your your followers, the people that get in touch with you, how typical is this of what cyclists have to face on roads up and down the country?
Carlton Reid 47:21
Well, I guess 10 years ago, it would have been as common as it is now. But you wouldn’t have had the evidence. So nobody believed cyclists that this was happening. The prevalence now of dashcams, both by cyclists using them, and in this case, motorists using them is showing that cyclists were telling the truth all the time, and that they’re having these kinds of awful aggression shown to them for absolutely no, no, just cause so it’s, it’s it’s frighteningly common, unfortunately.
BBC Radio Norfolk 47:53
The issue seems to be that there was a cycle path next to the road that the cyclist quite within their rights.
decided not to use. So I suppose from a, I’ve had this situation recently as a driver and not a cyclist where I’ve been driving along, and I’ve seen a bike on the road when there is a cycle path. And it does make you go wonder why they’re not using the cycle path. But obviously you don’t then take take things into your own hands, because you know, you’re worried about hitting them as it is. So why would a cyclist not using a cycle path when there is one available?
Carlton Reid 48:23
Let’s let’s put a different way first of all — if there’s a parallel road next to a motorway, would you get really annoyed with a motorist who chose to use the parallel road and not the motorway? Of course you wouldn’t. It’s just the choice is there to use the road or to use the motorway. It is the same for the cyclist. There’s no rule to say that you must use that particular bit of infrastructure. This particular bit of infrastructure, as it happens, is poor. That’s why the cyclist wasn’t using it. So it’s called a shared-use path. So it’s not like a dedicated protected cycleway at all. It’s a it’s a
pavement and in fact a sidewalk is as I would say to my Forbes readers and the cyclist who was a fast road cyclist who’s very capable of doing 25 miles an hour, really shouldn’t be on a footpath in effect shared with pedestrians so that cyclist was absolutely correct to be where he was because if there’s pedestrians on that that that path do you really want to be on a footpath, which is a common complaint of why are cyclists on footpaths, well here the cyclist is not on the footpath
and has chosen to ride on the road. Also, because there are lots and lots of driveways coming out. There’s lots of side roads so that cyclist will be impeded the constant length of the Hethersett road if he didn’t go on the on the road, and motorists I’m sure would not want to be impeded every five metres so that’s why the cyclist was there.
BBC Radio Norfolk 49:58
I think it’s really interesting. So
point to this is that we have lots of cycle lanes being put in, in in Norfolk and they’ve been loads of roadworks in Norwich to put them in. But sometimes they’re not necessarily that well designed, are and they’re not actually fit for purpose?
Carlton Reid 50:13
Exactly. If If you design the infrastructure, if you design that the cycleway to be wide, protected with kerbs, for instance. And critically, if it goes past junctions and allows the cyclist to carry on in safety, then I guarantee cyclists will use them, of course they’ll use them. It’s when this infrastructure is poorly designed. That’s why people don’t, don’t use them. So in London, for instance, and I live in Newcastle, actually I used to live in in Norwich, but I now live in Newcastle, but in London when when you go down there and you see the incredibly well behaved cyclists now using the cycleways and they are flocking to the to the wide, protected kerb protected
cycleways and they’re no longer using the roads quite so much. Because they have got very, very good infrastructure. So cyclists will use the infrastructure if it’s good. This particular example in Wymondham is terrible. That’s why the cyclist is not using it. And the fact that the motorist has taken it into his or her own, I’m assuming to him that’s that’s that’s a big presumption and took it into into his own powers to somehow demand that a cyclist use this very shoddy bit of infrastructure and did not get a custodial sentence is amazing because if that motorist outside of his or her car, used a knife to do the exact same thing they’ve done, a car can be a weapon, then they would have had at least six months, perhaps a year in jail, and all they’ve got and I know people think this is an incredible sentence. It is not all that person got was 12 months driving ban, which is
I think to any reasonable person is a travesty of justice.
BBC Radio Norfolk 52:05
That’s the view you’ve had from I know from a lot of your followers on social media, isn’t it that actually when things like this do happen, cyclists are not protected enough and there are a lot of people who would like to have seen a more stringent sentence here.
Carlton Reid 52:19
Well, you’ve got to use the example of a car can be used as a weapon, they frequently are; you often hear people actually being killed deliberately by somebody driving into them,
in many incidents in around the country, so as a weapon, if you wield that weapon, deliberately try and harm somebody, in this particular example, perhaps the cyclist wasn’t actually hit. But just imagine that person was using the weapon of choice was a knife, that that I’m sure all of your listeners will be saying, well, that person should be in jail. If it was a car and then half your listeners may be saying that was that that was perfectly fine for that motorist to do that. They wouldn’t say
thst if that person was using a knife so that the analogy you’ve got to get your head round
BBC Radio Norfolk 53:05
Yeah, I don’t think we’ve got many people saying it’s perfectly fine for the drivers to do that but I take the point Carlton, thanks thanks for joining us I know this has prompted a lot of reaction and not switch join us on the line.
Carlton Reid 53:16
That was me with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham.
Thanks to my guests, Dr. X and San Francisco’s Geeti Silwil of Perkins Will. Show notes including full transcripts and relevant links, including to our show sponsor, Jenson USA, can be found at the-spokesman.com and you’ve been listening to Episode 236 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast, which has been bringing you eclectic cycling-themed audio since a positively antediluvian 2006.
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Meanwhile, get out there and ride.