The Times of London has launched what Dani Simons aptly calls a “nearly mind-blowing” pro-cycling campaign. Inspired by a crash that seriously injured a Times reporter, “Cities Fit for Cycling” is the kind of multifaceted public safety program that is normally the province of non-profit advocacy, right down to the eight-point manifesto that covers everything from education and street improvements to truck design.
Here’s a sample:
- “Trucks entering a city centre should be required by law to fit sensors, audible truck-turning alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under the wheels.”
- “Two per cent of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for next generation cycle routes, providing £100 million a year towards world-class cycling infrastructure. Each year cities should be graded on the quality of cycling provision.”
- “20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes.”
The Times is taking suggestions from the public on how to make streets safer. There’s even an online form that puts readers in touch with their local officials.
“Imagine if the NY Times or the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal put their considerable clout and resources behind an effective strategy to promote cycling safety,” writes Simons. Instead, sensationalist fear-mongering, fabricated controversies and shameless victim-blaming continue to be the hallmarks of cycling coverage in New York, where the press corps tends to be embarrassingly regressive even in comparison to other stateside media markets.
Maybe that will change once city bike-share adds thousands of everyday cyclists to the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Or maybe, if The Times campaign generates enough buzz (and the paper itself isn’t felled by scandal), News Corp. will export “Cities Fit for Cycling” to one of its properties across the Atlantic.
Heads up, Cuozzo.