A very basic level of common sense within the social conventions of our nation has established that pedestrians, or ‘the population at large in public, on foot and with all our physical handicaps, disabilities and normal distractions’, should be segregated and use something termed the footway, while carriages use a section more clearly defined as the carriageway.
Most significantly, pedestrians are not just pedestrian traffic, and normal distractions include the view, shop windows, conversation and much more.
To suggest that all roadway space should be shared (as in the letter in the Herald on October 10, entitled ‘Change needed’), so that ‘where pedestrians would be in danger of being threatened by them’, cyclists and motor traffic will all feel obliged to behave responsibly, has to be a form of profound anti-social madness.
That the ‘cycling lobby’, with its access to political, commercial, sporting and media co-lobbyists, even without the input of ‘angry cyclists in conflict’ (a product of the physical incompatibility of cyclists with some traffic and established townscapes on one hand, and with footway pedestrians on the other) has been able to have these schemes installed elsewhere, is no justification to make the same mistake in even more towns.
Interestingly, in terms of the warned ‘prohibitive expense’, a worryingly significant part of the appeal such schemes have had with local authorities is – the saving it generates in the removal of street furniture designed to protect pedestrians by separating them from carriages.
In addition, where the cycling lobby condemns fixed pedestrian guard rails (which function very well in dividing carriages from pedestrians, they are deliberately prioritising the narrow self-interest of their discomfort with such barriers – where doing the right thing would be to recognise that, ultimately, the safety and comfort of everyone else is more important, and the incompatibility of cycling in some areas is obvious.
Kevin J. O’Malley