I've an idea that might just go nowhere, but what the hell. You get nothing out of not discussing an idea.
There are many organisations, from the smallest one-man-band companies with vans, through to taxi cab companies who employ hundreds, who drive around the streets of Cambridge. Its worth noting that most of the time the vast majority of drivers are just getting about, doing no direct harm to anyone. But sometimes its easy for a driver to get things wrong, and if that becomes a frequent problem for a company that risks reputational damage. I'm looking at you Stagecoach. As our roads get ever busier, and as there are more and more folk out there with dash cams and helmet cams, the risk of such reputational damage increases, and indeed the risk to any company of someone taking footage or eyewitness evidence of bad driving to the police or posting it online increases, and the cost and time associated with even just being given a polite reminder of how to behave by the police is enormous. Wouldn't it be better if we could handle this between ourselves? If there was some kind of voluntary code?
Now 'codes of conduct' for driving, over and above the Highway Code, aren't new. We've a Taxi one already here, although it doesn't mention cyclists (which was and is odd - and I don't know whether or not this code is still extant). But what we don't have is a code that acknowledges that Cambridge is home to a lot of cyclists who really want to be able to trust, trade with, and work alongside the companies that fill our roads with cars, lorries, vans and buses.
Which brings me to this - what ought there be a Cambridge Drivers code of conduct around cyclists? Well here's a starting point.
1. We assert that the right of cyclists to use the roads is equal to that of any other road user. We will not behave in a way that discourages cycling through inattention or hostility, and we will never condone a driver who tries to bully, threaten or scare a cyclist on our roads.
2. We will never block cycle facilities, whether on or off road cycle lanes, or ASL's (advance stop lines at junctions). Our drivers must not park in them, nor are they allowed to wait in them. If our work invloves maintenance of those facilities or building work that cannot avoid blocking the route, we will signpost this in advance and on the road such that cyclists may negotiate our work safely.
3. Our drivers are asked, at all times, to be 'cycle aware', and to treat cyclists and all other users of our roads with respect.
4. We require our drivers to pass cyclists at a safe distance - that means if the rider falls off then he or she will not be run over by an overtaking motorist. In practice that means at least 1.5m passing distance, not overtaking at traffic constrictions (e.g. traffic islands)
5. We understand that people get things wrong on the roads - we do, you do. But we also understand that making a mistake with a motorised vehicle can be terrifying to vulnerable road users around them. We will investigate any accusations made against our drivers and respond either acknowledging error (and accepting that this must not happen) or supporting our drivers action. We understand that such feedback does not need to disclose any private information about the driver or our disciplinary procedures other than an acknowledgement of the driving having been erroneous.
OK, so thats my fist draft of the code - what should a company get back in response for signing on? Well, to begin with, you get your company name on a list of trusted companies to work with, perhaps with a right to use a logo associated with the scheme? This would be a badge of trust whereby anyone who really cares about safe cycling would have a pre-approved list of companies who also give a damn, and we could actively encourage other organisations to do business with those companies that sign on. Bluntly, being cycle aware is good for business, and this scheme would give a clear advantage to any companies signing on.