DUNCAN BARKES New rules of the road – for cars and cyclists

A national newspaper has just launched a campaign for safer cycling in London following the serious injury of one of its staff members. The campaign makes it clear the paper believes the fault lies at the wheel of the motorist, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true.

I have no intention of launching a lazy Clarksonesque rant against the cyclist, and West Sussex is certainly not London, but cyclists and motorists need to adopt new ways of thinking if the roads are going to be safer for them both.

Motorists need to lose their hang-ups about cyclists. You see and hear it far too often. I’m convinced certain drivers deliberately tailgate cyclists simply to prove a point. I have also witnessed drivers pull in very quickly after overtaking someone on a bike, knowing it will shake them up a bit.

Certain cyclists also have a case to answer. They seem to disregard the Highway Code (I doubt if some have ever read it), cheerfully ignoring ‘No Cycling’ signs and pedestrians.

The newspaper campaign believes the only way to make cyclists safe is to have greater government regulation of lorries and vans, plus more public spending.

But I believe a safer experience for all could be achieved with a change of attitude and possibly some radical thinking. Dutchman Hans Monderman has many ideas, some of which are starting to be practised in other countries:

* There should be more roundabouts and fewer stop lights, as many cyclists are injured as both car and bike attempt to go first when the light turns green.

* Another of Monderman’s ideas is roads need to be designed in such a way they are not purely the domain of the motorist, ie they are not constructed for speed.

The theory behind this is it makes the driver uncertain of their environment, therefore they are more alert to other road-users who are now of an equal status.

Clearly these solutions are long term and will not happen overnight, but it’s certainly food for thought.

There will always be the dangerous BMW driver who overtakes the cyclist, just as there will always be the pedalling zealot who believes all other road users should defer to him.

These people will never change so surely the solution lies in changing their environment?

If we want to make the roads safer for cyclists then we need some brave decision-making by town planners.

Until then the usual frustrations will remain.

** Let us all pray for equal faith rights

I told you recently about the former Bideford town councillor, an atheist, who wanted prayers banned at the beginning of council meetings.

I am very sorry to say that last week the High Court ruled in his favour.

We are a Christian country and yet it appears our religious beliefs are being attacked.

I cannot imagine such attacks being tolerated by any other faith.