Road Safety really is an honourable cause. In Western countries many more people die because of traffic accidents than because of terrorism. The majority of the deaths are related to motorized traffic. Unfortunately, however, the perception that cycling is risky turns a lot of people off. “Isn’t it dangerous?” is the most frequent question I’m being asked with regard to cycling in London. Of course, as always, stuff happens. But by and large, the health benefits of cycling are much bigger than the risks, as the Cycling Touring Club argues. Additionally, the more cycles are on the roads, the safer cycling gets. The CTC calls this the “safety in numbers” effect.
Given this background a new campaign called “Ghoststreet” by the Newcastle City Council is really outrageous. The claimed aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about road safety. In fact, however, it is scaremongering at its best. Or, as Matt Jones rightly asserts in an open letter to Newcastle City Council:
this campaign [..] seems out of place and only serves to discourage people from cycling or walking.
In his first inaugural address in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt made the famous point that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. This is not only true in economic recessions, it’s also true with regard to cycling as well. “And Newcastle City Council”, one might add.