Letters: Cyclists must take more responsibility for keeping Britain’s roads safe

A shop sign in the village of Great Ayton, on the route of the Tour de Yorkshire
A shop sign in the village of Great Ayton, on the route of the Tour de Yorkshire - Alamy

SIR – Living in a rural part of Oxfordshire, I routinely see cyclists (Letters, May 18) riding on the road instead of the cycle tracks, which have often been installed at public expense. At one junction with a major road, many fail to indicate where they are going.

It is time cyclists started giving more thought to other road users. They frequently appear concerned with speed above all else. Studying the Highway Code would help.

I write as someone who, in my younger days, rode thousands of miles on my bicycle.

Edward A Severn
Witney, Oxfordshire

SIR – I live in the beautiful Surrey Hills, seen by the world during the 2012 Olympics when the area was chosen for the cycle road race.

Since that time, however, cars have arrived almost every weekend, taking up parking spaces to unload bicycles. Leisure cycling is to be encouraged, but most of these visitors seem keen to emulate the Olympic racers. Naturally slower on the ups, they can ride three abreast; on the downs they reach speeds probably exceeding some of the limits for cars.

Just the other morning, walking home from collecting my newspaper, I stopped at the zebra crossing in the middle of our village. I could see cyclists approaching down the slope with what I judged to be ample stopping distance. As they sped past, without even trying to slow, one shouted: “Can’t stop – going too fast.”

Mary White
Westcott, Surrey

SIR – Laurence Kirk (Letters, May 18) suggests that deaths caused by cyclists receive disproportionate attention, given that there are so few of them.

I disagree. Cycles are very light vehicles, mostly travelling far slower than cars. In the hands of the overwhelming majority of cyclists, responsible or irresponsible, they can do only minor damage in collisions with pedestrians.

In order to cause serious damage or death to a pedestrian, the cyclist must be proceeding, deliberately, in a manner or at a speed that utterly disregards the safety or even presence of other road users. Rare though it may be, such conduct merits serious criminal sanction (report, May 16) when it has consequences that are, as we now know, foreseeable.

Deborah Tompkinson
Maidenhead, Berkshire

SIR – Laurence Kirk describes himself as a “hyper-vigilant” cyclist, so why should he – or indeed anyone else – have concerns about a change in the law designed to protect innocent pedestrians going about their daily business?

Dr David Walters
Burton Bradstock, Dorset

SIR – Cyclists on racing bikes are one problem. A bigger problem, however, is the proliferation of electric bikes, some of which travel at great speed with little peddling. Often based on two fat wheels, they are more like mopeds and deserve separate legislation.

Alan Frost
Bournemouth, Dorset

SIR – John Graham (Letters, May 18) asks: “What other sport or pastime contributes nothing towards its essential facilities?” Well, cyclists pay for roads in the same way drivers do – through council tax or national taxation. “Road tax” is in fact a vehicle tax and nothing to do with roads.

As for Jacqueline Sudbury’s question on the same page about bells – it’s a legal requirement to sell a bike with a bell, but it’s not a legal requirement for the cyclist to use it.

Christine Wilson
Whiteabbey, Co Antrim

SIR – Scotford Lawrence (Letters, May 18) objects to the phrase “Lycra louts”. It’s not the material that is the problem but the people who wear it.

Jack Marriott
Churt, Surrey

NHS secrecy

SIR – Victoria Atkins, the Health Secretary, says the NHS must end its “culture of closing up when things go wrong” (report, May 18).

This echoes what Jeremy Hunt said when he met a group of senior whistleblowers in 2014. He commissioned Sir Robert Francis to chair the Freedom to Speak Up Review.

However, politicians and senior management did not listen then and they are not listening now. Opacity is essential to their modus operandi.

David Drew
Sutton Coldfield

SIR – I have little idea what Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of the NHS, does on a day-to-day basis.

She may well work very hard and command the respect of her peers. Nevertheless, given that she is the person at the top, I would expect a more visible and vocal presence. We do not hear enough from her.

Christopher Hunt 
Swanley, Kent

One Nation Tories

SIR – If One Nation Conservative MPs are considering joining the Labour Party (report, May 19), they were never Conservatives in the first place, and it is regrettable that they have misrepresented themselves to their constituents.

They are also naive if they believe the claim by Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, that his party is a “big tent”. Labour has always attracted a broad spectrum of Left-wing views, but the hardline Marxists have been a constant. Every Labour leader has had to confront them at some stage and, while they are currently dormant, they will spring back to life should Labour win the general election. One Nation defectors will find them uncomfortable bedfellows.

Mike Tickner
Winterbourne Earls, Wiltshire

SIR – Peterborough (May 18) asks readers to suggest a new logo for the Conservative Party.

I would propose a pothole, which also symbolises the state of Britain after 14 years of Conservative government.

Janice Lindsay
Nantwich, Cheshire

A vital vaccine

SIR – I would like to urge all parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated against whooping cough (report, May 13).

Since the age of four I have been blighted with a lung disease called bronchiectasis, a consequence of whooping cough. Now about to turn 80, I have fortunately been able to manage the effects for the most part. However, I would not wish this health situation on anyone, and all children deserve protection from it.

Margaret Baker
Juvigny les Vallées, Manche, France

The other grounds

SIR – In the early 1970s I served as a Minor Counties Cricket umpire, and had occasion to “stand” at Fenner’s, the Cambridge University ground.

The head groundsman, who that year had taken over from his father, told me he had eliminated “the last weed from the ground” (“Oxford’s lawns”, Letters, May 18) – a task that had been the ambition of his father. He challenged me to find any, offering a fiver for each. I searched for both days of the match but was unable to claim the prize.

Terry Justice 
Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire

China and Russia

SIR – I was sickened to see the despots of Russia and China – one a war criminal, the other a serial abuser of human rights – cosying up (“Putin and Xi hail ‘deepening’ military ties”, report, May 18).

It’s time the British Government took firmer action against China, restricting imports. Every time we buy something Chinese, we are aiding Russia and thus harming the Ukrainians. People can also carry out their own boycotts of Chinese goods.

Gerry O’Neill 
Horncastle, Lincolnshire

SIR – The pictures of Vladimir Putin being greeted by Xi Jinping reminded me of Walter Crane’s illustrations for Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood. Xi could have been the wolf barely disguised as the grandmother.

In its quest for global supremacy, China will need the mineral resources of Russia – obtained first through commercial domination, then probably through gradual territorial annexation.

Adrian Thornton
Shackleford, Surrey

Eternal outsider

SIR – Michael J C Ellis (Letters, May 18) knew he had been accepted in New Zealand when, after five years, he was addressed as “mate”.

I moved to Newcastle in 1972. At least once a year, I am still asked: “So where are you from, then?”

Sue Bennett
Newcastle upon Tyne

How to ensure effective stop and search

SIR – Targeted and intelligence-driven stop and search by police in areas where crime levels are high is an absolute necessity in order to tackle both knife crime and drug-related gang culture (“Tories tell police to bring back stop and search”, report, May 15). That more is required is self-evident.

What is also clear is that officers need to feel confident that they will be robustly supported in their actions. When the inevitable mistakes happen, complaints should be dealt with quickly and proportionally, rather than left hanging over hard-working front-line officers or used to support the polarising political agenda that got our inner cities into this dangerous mess in the first place.

Roy Ramm
Great Dunmow, Essex

Spare consumers a smart water meter rollout

SIR – I was astonished to read the suggestion by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) that smart water meters should be made compulsory (Business, May 16).

Has it learnt nothing from the planned rollout of smart energy meters? First there were problems with cost, then reliability – along with consumers’ realisation that these devices would allow utility companies to control supply and prices.
Britain is fortunate. There is no shortage of rain, and the Met Office predicts that winters will become wetter. Summers could be drier, but rainfall will be more intense and there will be more flooding.

The NIC’s job is to advise the Government on infrastructure improvements, but there has not been much action on this front in the past decade. As far as water is concerned, we need more reservoirs; the last one was built more than 30 years ago. We also need a supply network that ensures the drier south of the country receives the water it requires. Then the NIC might address the failure to invest in stopping the pollution of our rivers and beaches.

Paul Knocker
Bembridge, Isle of Wight

SIR – Devon residents have been falling ill after drinking tap water supplied by South West Water (Letters, May 18)
Crumbling infrastructure and insufficient investment over many years – not to mention sheer incompetence – have surely led to this problem. If you live in the same place for 50 years, as I have, you realise that nothing is ever done to replace water pipes, drains or sewers.

The public utilities need to be taken back into government ownership, with money diverted from other areas to remedy this disgraceful situation. People’s health should be a priority for any government, whatever its political persuasion.

Iris Hedgecock
Chichester, West Sussex

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