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Tomorrow I will kiss my two beautiful children

Former GB rider and head of media relations at Leigh Day David Standard talks about cycle safety

David Standard
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David joined Leigh Day in 2011 and is responsible for all marketing, business development and client care across the firm.
Tomorrow I will kiss my two beautiful children and lovely wife goodbye. I know that whilst I am doing this I will be wondering whether I will ever see them again. I am not a member of the emergency services, nor brave enough to be a soldier, I am a cyclist.

I know I will be buzzed by a motorist, passing me too close as if to make a point. Vehicles will speed toward me and sometimes even speed up when passing me going the opposite way on narrow rural roads. They will turn across my path or drive without due care and attention, I know it’s coming and I can do nothing to prevent it.

None of those who have been killed or maimed ‘on the bike’, who I have known personally, have done so because of something they did.

They include the victim of one ton of metal hitting him from behind, driven by a mother who was at that moment turning round to deal with her errant toddlers, or the victim of the  lorry driver who came down a slip road and drove straight over the cyclist he did not see.

We don’t live in a war zone; we should be able to enjoy the sport, which does so much for the health and well being of children and adults, without fear of death. However, the latest road injury statistics published last week show once again that whilst road deaths are going down, the number of cyclists killed on the roads has gone up.

This is why I react strongly when I hear the conversations on cycle safety turn to the perennial argument that cyclists should stop jumping red lights and stop riding irresponsibly. Yes they should but this argument is akin to saying that we should ignore playground safety because a few toddlers don’t eat their vegetables.

So what if some idiots choose to jump red lights, they’ll endanger themselves. But some would equate their irritation with the fear those who ride bikes have of being killed. Blaming the victim serves only to distract away from the need to push for better driving standards to save lives, to discussions about their completely risk free experience in rush hour that morning.

We are as vulnerable as newborns when we take to the roads we pay for. Yes, we all pay for the roads. The myth of road tax is slowly being eroded. There is no road tax; there is vehicle excise duty, which does not pay for the road, it is a levy based on CO2 emissions, which goes to the Treasury.

As a taxpayer and payer of council and other non-direct taxes, which go toward the upkeep of the transport system, I pay my fair share for the roads on which I ride.

The roads were not built for cars; we are all valid road users. One person in a car is no more important than a person on a bike; the addition of an engine and horsepower does not grant immunity from the usual rules governing society.

If I slow you down then I am afraid you’ll have to slow down but I will do my very best to respect you as a fellow road user. I am also the owner of two cars, I am therefore neither cyclist nor driver, I am a bloke who just wants to get home safely to see his wife and children.

David Standard is head of media relations at Leigh Day and a former rider for Great Britain.

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