December 4, 2009

Shark v Polar Bear. Lion v Gorilla. Crocodile v Peter Mandelson. Jaded webnerds have long hypothesised the outcomes of unlikely bestial showdowns. The equivalent line of conjecture in the world of two-wheeled transport over the past few years has been the result of throwing bikers and cyclists together in London’s bus lanes.

Cycle groups predicted carnage, lobbying hard against trials proposed from January this year. Bikers insisted there was nothing to worry about and that buses and taxis, bikes and bikes could get along peaceably. Cackling fiendishly like some latter-day Caligula, Mayor Boris insisted that the trials go ahead.

Given that cyclists already share said lanes with the 20-tonne man-mangling psychopathic behemoths from whom they take their name, a few leather clad solicitors and hi-viz couriers would hardly suggest a big step up in terms of mortal threat.

Now the bike world’s weekly journal of record MCN has got its hands on a leaked TfL report covering the first four months of trials scheduled to run til June next year.

At first sight, the results appear to support the bikers’ view that cyclists needn’t have worried. But MCN rather scuppers the coup of its scooped report by admitting that no one finds its findings particularly convincing.

The facts – such as they are – are these: there were three collisions between motorcycles and bicycles during the four months in question: two fewer than during the same period in 2008.

The tally of pedestrians struck by bikers, 16, was exactly the same. Overall collisions were up slightly from 369 to 374. Curiously, those involving bikers rose from 109 to 124, but the report does not distinguish between bus-lane and main-highway collisions.

Cyclists remain skeptical. CTC’s Roger Geffen told MCN he’d be “asking TfL searching questions about their methodology,” while pedestrian champion Tony Armstrong said he’s still worried bikers in bus lanes may “impact on more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians.”

Surely bikers and cyclists should set aside their differences and unite against the real enemy. Ban buses from the bus lane and we’d all feel so much safer.

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