James May

Cycle wars: why 20mph is plenty for motorists

James May on Amazon's The Grand Tour (Credit: Amazon)

I live in Hammersmith, in west London, which is an area where people seem particularly fond of just running out into the street without looking – which is their prerogative because they are people not machines. 20mph is plenty fast enough and 30mph does feel too fast. And, to be honest, if you could go around somewhere like London, or Manchester, or Birmingham, at a constant 20mph, you’d be absolutely delighted.

I do a lot of cycling around London and we can become over obsessed with things like rules, street furniture, signage, traffic lights and so on. They’ve been doing this with a bike lane near me; it’s not particularly well thought out, because you have a two-way road running alongside a two-way bicycle lane, with lots of junctions off it.

The attempts to control it – with lights and signs and warnings – they’ve proliferated to the point where it’s becoming baffling. All these things ultimately are cured by a change in attitude, not a change in signage or infrastructure or colours, or anything like that. That might be a stepping stone to ending road sectarianism and making towns and cities nicer places for everyone to travel around in. But I think ultimately it is about it, well: a mindful attitude. I hate to sound very right-on, but it is.

This is an edited transcript of James May’s comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

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