The melting pot environment of Europe's cities brings together culture, diversity, colour and contrast, with people attracted to the bright lights and opportunities that come from living in a large town or city.
On the roads we've already seen the effects of this through an increase in the number of road users, particularly with cyclists. It's a great way to keep fit and navigate your way through stationery traffic, but with this freedom comes danger. We've already witnessed a rise in the number of injuries / fatalities involving cylists in Europe's cities, and it often involves a large truck or bus. The road transport industry has acted positively to this challenge, through the addition of safety features on trucks and the rise of schemes like the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).
But what about the cyclists? How is it possible to spread the message of the dangers of riding in the city? There are some issues. When cyclists are riding close to or with other cyclists there is a psychological confidence which sometimes manifests itself into slight risk-taking. This makes it difficult to predict the movements of any one cyclist, and can occasionally lead to altercation or confrontation.
Then there is the issue of awareness. There is no reason why the average cyclist would know about the dangers of a truck making a left or right-hand turn, and although there are warning stickers and audible warning devices designed to reduce the chances of an incident the reality is that cyclists can and will 'nip' down the side or quickly 'slalom' around the truck thinking, quite wrongly, that they can shoot on past before the truck has made a move. It is this perception that causes the risk.
So what's the answer? A cycling licence maybe? A public awareness campaign by local or regional governments? More responsibility placed on the truck driver in an already crowded, busy and noisy cab? It's difficult to say, but ultimately the relationship between cyclist and truck or bus needs to be looked at very carefully, because until we do the risks will remain and we will continue to have a problem with the vulnerability of cyclists in Europe's cities.