There is a new law being proposed in the commons “Dangerous and Reckless Cycling Bill” to replace the old 1860 of “Wanton and Furious” behaviour on the road, or something like that. Anyway, 2 cyclists in the last decade have killed pedestrians, both were charged with this old law and sentenced to prison under it. Fair play, killing people is wrong and if you are cycling with negligence and cause someone’s death justice should be served. So, I do not object to the new law, I’m neither for nor against it, the old driving laws have been superseded by newer ones “dangerous driving” etc and so updated laws for cycling isn’t a bad thing. They will rarely be used.
However, why now? Cycling is not yet recovering from the massive dip in modal share of the last few decades and its recent “upsurge” has been modest by all accounts, but in relative terms, it appears there is a boom in cycling. And with this has come a boom in pissed off and ignorant motorists venting about ownership of the road, licensing, insurance and road laws, and to a vocal minority they think it is grossly unfair that cyclists somehow behave above the law. So now there must be new legislation to appease the baying motorists. Which in itself, is fine, as I say, most cycling legislation is fairly obvious and hard to argue with. But it is illustrative of an attitude of “anti-cycling” that is running rife in current society, conversely you could just say the attitude of “pro-motorists” is getting maniacal. Deaths or injury due to cyclists are rare, compare that with how many cyclists are injured and killed by motorists, yet when you look at the punishments for the motorists its beyond a joke. Its a parody of the just society, when a defendant admits to operating a HGV with bad eye sight and not using glasses despite requiring them and kills a cyclist to walk away with a fine is galling. Often this is due to the perception of driving being a right as opposed to a privilege, and that somehow drivers must be protected to allow them to drive especially if it is related to their job and so are given extremely lenient punishments despite killing a person. I’m fine with laws for cyclists being introduced and enforced, we are road users like the rest, but I damn well expect drivers to obey the rules set for them and for them to prosecuted and brought to justice as required. I’m afraid that means, I want more speed cameras, not less, I want strict enforcement of ASLs, and when someone kills someone with a vehicle, they are brought to justice. Vehicles are big, heavy and can be terrifying, when they are driven badly they are akin to a person wandering around a shopping street with a chainsaw swinging it around their heads.
The Guardian this week rejected Road Peace’s request to stop calling road collisions “accidents” and asking for the more appropriate “collision” to be used instead, namely because accident implies no one was at fault. Knocking a glass over is can be an accident, and it can also be deliberate, or it can be to carelessness or negligence, and the same can be true of collisions. Calling someone a collision is stating a fact, but calling something an accident implies innocence, the problem being that such collisions are being described as an accident long before police have finished their investigations or a coroner has given his verdict or a jury if required has decided if it is so.
Yesterday I was coming to a junction and riding in the middle lane of three, another cyclist was a head of me in the same lane. A van being driven by someone on an iphone without indicating accelerated from my outside between myself and the cyclist ahead to the inside lane because they were in the wrong lane. It was a “holy fuck, you fucking cunt” moment. The cunt was already breaking one law, driving badly and had he injured either myself or the other cyclist, it would not have been an accident.
I am well aware this is a singular incident in a journey involving cycling around hundreds of cars, and yet I don’t cast assumptions about all drivers, likewise, people who assume cyclists all jump reds or even as someone in the Economist implies, only environmentalist cyclists, can fuck right off.