road safety

Properly punishing deadly drivers

Scotland could soon have new sentencing guidelines for cases involving drivers who kill pedestrians and cyclists. I’m not holding my breath on the rest of the country adopting them, though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tories campaign against them. On past form, that would lead to Kier Starmer saying Labour are against them too

‘Change the law so car-drivers are automatically blamed for cycling accidents – unless they can prove otherwise’ | Metro News

Dutch driving laws force motorists to play it safe. Isn’t it time we adopted strict liability to protect cyclists in Britain?

There’s a vote option at the bottom of the piece. The result won’t make a difference in the grand scheme, but I recommend clicking Yes for the benefit of Metro readers.

Source: ‘Change the law so car-drivers are automatically blamed for cycling accidents – unless they can prove otherwise’ | Metro News

The end of those stupid ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers?

After lobbying by several cycling and road safety groups, TfL have agreed to phase out the yellow ‘Cyclists Stay Back’ stickers which were on their vehicles and those of their contractors. They’re going to work on something with better wording. And, hopefully, reminding their drivers how they should be behaving on the road.

Road safety organisations have for several months been pressuring TfL to act on the stickers, described as “offensive” by London Cycling Campaign (LCC). Evidence has mounted that drivers of stickered vehicles have acted as though the stickers gave them the right to harass and endanger cyclists.

If you are, or know, a driver who’d like to convey a more positive message, the website have some ‘Cyclists, Stay Awesome’ stickers.

via Transport for London agrees to scrap 'Stay Back' stickers |

Is failure to promote the wearing of cycle helmets irresponsible? –

Some jurisdictions have taken the step of banning cycling without a helmet. In Australia for example, it is now illegal even for children to ride around without a helmet. And in Australia, cycling-related deaths have fallen. But what’s intriguing is that cycling overall has also fallen, at a faster rate than cycling-related fatalities. In other words, the rate of cyclist death has increased. More worryingly, the rate of head injuries – which one might naively expect to be more directly affected by helmet use – has not fallen as a result of legislation, again implying that the rate has gone up. (See the links here.) Put another way, if you cycle in Australia, where cycle helmets are mandatory, you’re more likely to get a head injury now than before the law was changed.

Is failure to promote the wearing of cycle helmets irresponsible? | Richard P Grant | Science |

Chris Boardman: “Helmets not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe” –

Boardman returned to an analogy he has made before, and which even he admits is a bit melodramatic, though it gets the point across

“It’s a bit like saying ‘people are sniping at you going down this street, so put some body armour on,'” he said.

Government encouragement to wear helmets was therefore “a big campaign to get people to wear body armour, by the people who should be stopping the shooting.”

via Chris Boardman: "Helmets not even in top 10 of things that keep cycling safe" |

Cycle helmets don’t make cyclists safer

Every so often, some well meaning politician decides that cyclists need to be protected by making it mandatory for them to wear helmets. This week, it’s the turn of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth. It’s good that he cares, but he’s calling for the wrong thing. In fact, in his article explaining his reasoning, he somehow manages to suggest and then ignore several ways to make cycling safer.

Part of the solution, of course, is the matter of education. Cyclists can go on a bike ability course. This used to be the cyclist proficiency test. Other road users need to be aware of cyclists too.

So close. Money should be put into making bike ability available to every child, and there have been calls to make cycle awareness a mandatory part of the driving test. In fact “Other road users need to be aware of cyclists too” manages to skip over possibly the biggest cause of problems for cyclists. Too many drivers don’t know how to behave around people on bikes. They don’t know how much room to give them, when they’re not supposed to enter cycle lanes or what an Advance Stop Lane is for. And that’s all before we get on to them using their mobiles, running red lights, parking on the pavement etc., etc.. Put some money into telling drivers how to behave- and enforcing the rules- and you’ll see an improvement in road safety.

Cyclists’ safety is a particular problem in our cities and above all in London. Cycle lanes provide some assistance, as do lower speed limits. It is likely that banning heavy goods vehicles from certain routes in our cities at peak times would also help as it has in Paris.

Good cycle lanes can make a difference. Bad cycle lanes can make things worse. Reports on the London Cycle Superhighway suggest that it’s been appallingly designed and badly implemented, putting the cyclists who use it in danger. If this can be borne in mind, then these suggestions are all superior to compulsory helmets. The good Lord should push for them.

The Highway Code sensibly sets out tips on safety. Wearing high visibility clothing is clearly a help, as is wearing the recommended cycling helmet.

It’s always good to be seen, which is why my bike can look like a Christmas tree during Winter. And I always wear a helmet. But, and this is the bit that none of these politicians with their good intentions never seem to understand- a crash helmet is not a safety device.

A cycling helmet does not prevent accidents. It doesn’t magically fill in the potholes that can throw cyclists off or seriously damage their bikes. It doesn’t throw up a forcefield which pushes away drivers who don’t understand lane discipline or safe distances. It doesn’t keep pedestrians from stepping off the pavement without looking around.

A helmet is not a safety device. A helmet is a damage limitation device. Like those equally misnamed safety devices in cars- like safety belts, airbags, side impact protection and reinforced A pillars- if it’s needed, then something very unsafe has just happened. Safety devices are things like efficient brakes and properly inflated, grippy tyres, surprisingly similar in cars and on bikes. Indeed, the most powerful safety device in any wheeled vehicle is the same thing- the brain of the person in control of it. Which brings me back to the subject of education….

If Lord Bourne wants to make the roads safer for cyclists, and more pleasant for everyone, then he needs to shelve his call for compulsory cycle helmets and look more closely at some of the other ideas he so quickly skipped past.

Help Transport for Greater Manchester secure £20million to improve cycling infrastructure

Transport for Greater Manchester – Cycling – Pledge.

A cycling revolution is within Greater Manchester’s grasp. A revolution that shows we’re as serious about cycling as cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

But we need your support to make this vision a reality. Pledge your support right now by clicking the link on this page.

Greater Manchester is bidding for up to £20 million of government investment, to be spent over two years, to make cycling safer and easier.

Most of this investment will be in a series of more continental-style, largely segregated, cycle routes within the heart of the conurbation, together with the delivery of a number of cycle and ride stations.

£20 million’s not a lot, compared to the huge amounts spent on motor traffic, but it’s a start.

If you’re a cyclist, or know a cyclist, you really should sign this petition

Promote cycling by implementing the recommendations in the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report. – e-petitions.

The petition needs over 100,000 signatories to get discussed in Parliament.  It’s got over 25,000 in its first two days, so please help keep the momentum up.

We need to encourage more cycling, better infrastructure and more understanding from- and harsher punishment of, if necessary- drivers when it comes to sharing the road.  The ‘Get Britain Cycling’ report is built upon an enquiry into the state of cycling in the UK and its recommendations are based upon input from a wide range of experts.

….and a leprechaun in every pot 1

A councillor in Kerry has done great work to perpetuate Irish stereotypes by trying to relax the drink-drive limit in rural parts of the county.

According to Danny Healy-Rae everything will be alright if they let a few drivers get sozzled and give them a get out of a breath test free card, because “on the roads I’m talking about, you couldn’t do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour [30-50km/h] and it’s not a big deal.” Allegedly, “A number of the councillors who approved the measure are reportedly themselves pub owners – but Mr Healy-Rae denied that this had influenced the vote.”

I learnt to drive on rural roads, and I have spent many a happy hour driving along country lanes. the last thing you want is a drunk coming the other way.

Could someone please teach the councillor about designated drivers, and get him to introduce a free soft drinks rule for them. It’ll serve the same supposed purpose as his dumb idea, without putting as many people at risk.

A road safety petition for your consideration

I keep saying that drivers should have more training in cycle safety, so this petition that someone has started, to have cycling awareness made a mandatory part of driver training rather than just an optional module, appeals to me. Consider it and if, like me, you think it’s a good idea, please do sign it.

Dear Drivers

Dear drivers,

I don’t do any of those things you keep complaining about cyclists doing. I don’t run red lights. I don’t cycle on the pavement. I wear clothes which are bright and/or have reflective patches and I have lights on my bikes. I also do some things you don’t know to tell me about, such as riding a sensible distance out from the kerb- when the traffic lets me- keeping clear of opening car doors and inattentive pedestrians. (I also wear a helmet, but that’s not a safety measure, it’s about damage reduction.)

So, when are you going to keep your side of the bargain? When will you start giving me enough room when you pass me? How long until you stop parking and driving in the cycle lane (or on the pavement, but that’s something for the pedestrians to take up with you)? When will you learn what advanced stop boxes are for and that amber means slow down and stop, not speed up to get through before the lights go red? It’s not much to ask, just that you show a little sense and courtesy when dealing with more vulnerable road users.

I’m sure you’ll all tell me that you’re wonderful, careful drivers. Many of you will be right. And then some of you will tell me all about the terrible things that cyclists do. I won’t refer you back to the first paragraph, you’re just making excuses for not changing your ways.

I’m not defending misbehaving cyclists, but I am getting tired of being told that I’m the problem when I’m not, or that we, as a group, are the most dangerous bunch on the roads. A cyclist would have to be pushing at the very far edges of bad luck or behaviour before they could do as much damage to another human as a driver is capable of just by forgetting to look around properly before opening their car door.

So- for Christmas and beyond- could you please be so kind as to give me my space on the road, look out for me and stop blaming me for problems created by bad road design or the failings of car culture.


A cyclist.

Fish Face (get well soon Bradley Wiggins)

Lyrics which, no doubt, mean something to Bradley Wiggins today.  Hope he has a quick recovery.

Who’s that wanker in your rear view mirror
Who’s that tosser in the Carter shirt
Who’s that loser in the ford granada
Who’s that bleeder with his face in the dirt

Where’s that copper when you need him badly
Where’s Homer Simpson where is Bart
Where’s your sense of right and justice
Where’s my knowledge of the martial arts

Fish Face you’re a fish face you’re a disgrace
And am sick and tired sick and tired
Fish Face waste of road space off of your face
And am sick and tired sick and tired

I’m that bloke with the broken racer
I’m that bloke with the fractured arm
You’re that bloke with no insurance
And I’m that bloke who’s not keeping calm

I don’t suppose you have ever read the highway code

You know that you shouldn’t be allowed on the road

(Riff Instro)

I remember when the bicycle was safe and it was fun

The next time I cycle I’m gonna bring a gun!

That’s right Fish Face
Just for you

(Lyrics via Abdoujaparov official site)

Update The Team GB cycling coach, Shane Sutton, was involved in a separate accident this morning. It says in the report that it happened on the A6 in Levenshulme, which isn’t a cycle friendly stretch of road.

Cycle helmets are not the answer

Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and a delegation of councillors will travel to Westminster on Monday to meet with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond.

They will be calling for changes in the law so that all cyclists must wear helmets and all bikes must be fitted with lights.

The delegation also wants all new bike sales to include helmets, reflective clothing and lights, and to ban BMX bikes on public roads as some do not have brakes or lights fitted and are only suitable for tracks.

via Deaths on Notts roads spark MP’s call for tighter cycling laws | This is Nottingham.

Every so often someone comes up with the idea that they have to protect us cyclists from ourselves.  This protection almost always takes the form of compulsory helmet wearing and banishment to the cycle path.

It’s not the solution.

Firstly, let’s make an important distinction about cycle helmets and “safety”.  Cycle helmets do not make cyclists safer.  Not one bit.  (In fact, there’s one study which suggests that they actually make us less safe because, for some reason, they make drivers think they can give us less room when passing).  However, I almost never go for a ride without my helmet on, because whilst it doesn’t throw up a forcefield to keep bad drivers away it will prevent or reduce damage to my brain box if something unfortunate should happen. I like my brain, it’s one of my favourite parts of my body.

Making us wear helmets all the time, or forcing us to stay within the poorly designed and maintained cycle paths, will do nothing to make us safer.  Better enforcement of existing laws and improved training for drivers would be more effective.  The return of Cycling Proficiency training in schools wouldn’t hurt either, but MPs and other wannabe safety campaigners have got to stop blaming the victims and start accepting that motorists cause most of the problems.

Lollipop Ladies are a tool of the oppressors!!!! 1

You might think that lollipop ladies (and men) are a quaint but useful bunch. After all, they protect vulnerable members of society and make our roads safer.

But no. According to one blogger at the Libertarian Alliance they’re part of a scheme to control society– starting with an attack on the poor downtrodden motorist.

Perhaps they’ve been ordered to inconvenience the traffic as much as possible, maybe to cause deliberate “congestion”, so that further charges may be brought in? Since “Councils” soviets now employ these buggers, and are of course riddled to the core with the destroying-worm of GreeNazism and other forms of socialism, there’s grounds for suspecting an anti-car conspiracy.

Or they might be doing their job, which is to get children from one side of the road to the other safely. The blogger does comment that back in the good old days the children had to wait for a break in the traffic before the Lolly was deployed, because to do otherwise ‘would be considered both rude and inconvenient to “motorists”‘. So his problem is really that nowadays drivers are expected to act responsibly and don’t get the preferential treatment he feels they deserve. It appears that David Davis believes that the right of a child to be protected is less important than that of a driver to be smug in their metal box. This characterises the outlook of so many people who call themselves Libertarians- selfishness and self interest rather than anything which might actually increase the overall liberty of the population as a whole.