There are very few situations in normal society where you are expected to look out for the incompetence of others and if someone else gets it wrong you are responsible for the result.
The victim is usually a very normal person going about his lawful business, cruelly interrupted by the inconvenience of killing, maiming or injuring a cyclist. After all cycling is an outdated mode of transport, only weirdo’s and perverts ride bikes (unless winning the nation a bag of medals at worldwide sporting events). Despite lip service being paid to cycling as a viable, healthy and sustainable transport method, these lips disguise a forked tongue. Getting more people on bikes without providing a safe infrastructure and legislation is akin to feeding Grouse in July.
How can it be right that you can use the sun as an excuse for running someone down? How can it be right that you can use the dark as an excuse for running someone down? How can it be right that you can confuse a cyclist with a pot hole? How can it be right to not stop because you thought you hit an animal. In fact it seems less politically correct to not stop after hitting a defenseless bunny that squishing a cyclist. Last year, or was it the year before, a taxi driver got away with killing a cyclist who was mounted on his bonnet. The taxi only stopped after colliding with a tree, no doubt the cyclist obstructed his view therefore causing the tree unnecessary duress.
Of course there are answers to the growing problem of the popularity of cycling. One would be to spend some money on the infrastructure to allow two differing societies to co-exist, after all a white line is scant protection when compared to 42 tonnes of lorry, even more ridiculous is allowing 13 tonnes of public transport to share that protective white line but it is pretty cheap when compared to concrete bollards or even a couple of courses of bricks.
You could scare the motorised road user with the prospect of getting bummed in the showers of a detention centre but in reality, there is a long queue for the soap on a rope in her majesty’s hotels and let’s face it killing or injuring a cyclist is pretty low down on the list of important stuff like bunnies and kittens (unless it is a policeman, or a saint, or someone who counts). As cyclists, by virtue of being on the road we are asking for what we get. Mr Clarkson (an employee of the British Broadcasting Corporation) is allowed to use taxpayers money to prove how worthless we are as a sub class but to be fair, he is also a racist, a sexist and a xenophobe at our expense, so at least he is a balanced bigot. However, even if his big fat tongue is firmly in his big fat cheek in his big fat head, there are people out there who swallow his bile, I know this for a fact, I have to use the road with them on a daily basis. We are told to set an example to our children, wear your helmet or your child won’t, eat your greens or your child will die of bursting, Pick on cyclists so that you can reign over the metalled surfaces on the United Kingdom.
The real issue is that cycling went out of fashion for a couple of decades, in those years the car came to the fore utilising a largely Victorian network which was never going to cope when cars caught on for real. At the same time important people realised there was a niche to exploit, with minimal outlay they could fleece “hard working families”, centralise industry, reduce public transport and all the support systems they relied upon. People had to travel further to earn their money and those earning the better money were better than those staying local and earning less. Pretty soon those working locally threw their bikes away and got cars to prove they weren’t shit. Soon after that parents decided that they would look cheap if the didn’t take their children to school in their motorised status symbols.
Of course the less spent on that road network the more money the important people made. Instead of investing in integrated systems, they did what they could to disintegrate them and increase their wealth. Then the gridlock, lack of freedom and general unhealthy nature of sitting in a box, bit them on the arse, this coupled with gold medals and national pride resulted in a resurgence of cycling for a reason. Suddenly commuting and cycling were cool and healthy and hip and the governments couldn’t really dissuade people from partaking or they would look like knobs. However as it is better to be a rich knob that a poor dude.They tacitly agreed with cycling but without actually doing anything to assist it. Therefore it is far better to demonise those that do, rather than vilify those that don’t. Rather than stumping up the cash or legislating to enforce improvement they choose to pillorise the victims of their inaction. How difficult would it be to force any new developers into providing a safe network as part of their planning proposals, or for any road renewals to include separate infrastructure for non motorised use? It wouldn’t be difficult it just wouldn’t be as profitable. There isn’t any money to be had and a healthier lifestyle and would reap less profit from the heath service, aside from in major trauma industry.
Anyway, tome over, This week appears to be road safety week, and it is working. The A34 wasn’t closed at Perry Barr, neither was the M6,. Those nice chaps at the West Midlands Police decided to tweet some helpful tips and Her Majesty’s Press at the West Midlands Beeb did an in depth report on cycling, worthy of Tom Heap from Countryfile, . Stay safe, stop and give way, wear your helmet, use your lights, not small ones mind, they don’t count. Not big ones mind, they blind law abiding road users, Use Goldilocks lights, they are the best, not too bright, not too dim, just right. When you have finished, have a little nap, you are well safe in a bus lane, nothing nasty will happen as you have a white line to protect you.
Helmets; I wear a helmet, I regularly change my helmet and I have an expensive head, so I wear an expensive helmet. I have smashed two into oblivion. Well I smashed one and a Mondeo driver smashed the other but that is being obtuse. I am a fan of helmets, mine is a limited edition as used by a few of the world tour teams, It looks ace and makes me look amazing but I am the first to admit it would be fuck all use if my bus lane sharing 13 tonne mate decided to run me over. My first destroyed helmet didn’t save me from a broken back and my second didn’t save me from a destroyed elbow. Helmets don’t save lives, not having incidents saves lives. Not being put in situations; saves lives.
I will tell you another thing that saves lives, sticking as best you can to the laws of the road. This includes not jumping red lights, this includes stopping and giving way, it also includes using not mobile phones, not wearing seatbelts and not speeding. However these issues don’t count because decent law abiding citizens do them. Politicians, Police Officers, Solicitors, Media stars, Footballers, they all transgress these stupid outdated laws. Some even manage to tweet about these matters whilst driving, now that is proper multitasking.
I ask any of you who have got this far, to take notice of how many cyclists jump red lights tomorrow and how many car drivers blast through on red. It is the same offence, committed in a different manner and just as wrong in both instances. I ask you to observe how many cyclists ride without lights and how many cars drive on sidelights in a 40mph or above, or with fog lights on. How many bike riders are on their phone compared to motorists at the wheel or even those without seatbelts compared to those riders without helmets. Finally compare how many cyclists are breaking the speed limit compared to motorists, whilst also considering the prospective damage they could individually do. We all break the law so don’t get prissy when someone breaks a law you care about, this is called hypocrisy, so suck it in and lets get on with all arriving safely where we wanted to get to.
In this last paragraph I wish to announce that my omission does not absolve a wrong doing. If my lights aren’t bright enough, this isn’t an excuse to kill me. If I am not wearing a helmet it doesn’t give a reason to run me over. If I am not wearing hi visibility clothing it doesn’t absolve you from driving in a responsible manner. For reporters in the Coventry area, if you are hit from behind, you didn’t collide with a car, it HIT YOU and the burden of guilt isn’t on the cyclist for having lights, considered by an expert, to be a bit small, it is on the driver for being negligent. If the road narrows and you can’t overtake me, it isn’t my fault for your misjudgment. If you are really late for work and I am only doing 25mph in a 30mph, it isn’t my fault the important people didn’t provide a safe infrastructure for us to use or that you failed to set the appropriate time on your alarm clock. Get over yourself and leave me alone.