Strict Liability Laws
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Hitler rants about bicycles and reacts to Premier Ted Baillieu’s recent remarks that the registration of bicycles is not feasible.
Nikki Sinclaire (West Midlands European parliamentarian) has echoed Hitler’s sentiment in calling for compulsory cycle registration and helmet use.
Cycle registration is a contentious issue, but to me it seems absurd for anyone to seriously suggest erecting such significant barriers to cycling at a time when there are too many cars on the roads and the nation’s health is so poor.
Some politicians seem to be under the impression that cyclists are anarchists who disregard the rules and their own safety for no particular reason. Although I don’t condone red-light jumping and pavement cycling (two of the most controversial issues), there are strong arguments and hard data in support of the fact that such behaviours are sometimes justified in light of their being the safest options at certain junctions. This being the case, what is perceived as the ‘bad behaviour’ of cyclists is symptomatic of the poor conditions that British bike riders have to put up; not only do we lack the strict liability laws employed to protect vulnerable road users across Europe, but our cycling infrastructure amounts to little more than inconsistent and unenforced dabs of paint.
If politicians like Nikki Sinclaire want people on bikes to behave better then maybe they should spend more time learning about how successful cycling cultures work and less time proposing preposterous new rules that do nothing to protect cyclists whatsoever.
2013 saw many articles written under titles referring to the ‘dangers of cycling’. A few random examples can be found here, here, here, and here. This one even talks about the ‘terrors’ faced by cyclists on the road.
Indeed, cycling can be a dangerous activity, but this is not because cycling itself is dangerous…
For instance, it isn’t dangerous to cycle without a helmet
It isn’t dangerous to cycle with a passenger…
…no matter what age you are!
Even a couple of passengers (and a suitcase) is no big deal
and it isn’t dangerous to cycle with an umbrella
Even four-legged friends are safe to ride with.
Whether you’re a little bit older…
…or a little younger
…cycling itself is not a dangerous activity.
What these photographs illustrate is how the physical environment affects the relative danger of riding a bike. Many of the pictures also show how good infrastructure is the key factor in determining whether or not cycling is actually safe.
As we move into 2014, I am hopeful that governing bodies in the UK (and elsewhere, for that matter) pick up on the merits of cycling and do what is needed to protect people who ride bikes. At present (and from my perspective), city dwellers face an unappealing trilemma when deciding upon transportation; they can either:
1. Contribute to the city’s pollution and congestion by paying through the nose for a car (+driving licence/insurance/MOT/VED/petrol/parking etc.).
2. Pay to take crowded/crappy (and notoriously unreliable) public transport.
3. Ride a bike but risk their lives by sharing the road with heavy/powerful/fast moving motor vehicles.
If a person is able to ride a bike (i.e. if their health permits it), then it should be in everybody’s interest to support them. Biker riders take up less space on the roads, and so there is less congestion for everyone else; they are not pumping out pollution into the air that we all have to breath; they are exercising their bodies and so easing pressure on an NHS that is currently strained by an obesity epidemic; they aren’t damaging the roads to nearly the same degree that other vehicles do (thus saving tax-payers money); they don’t run people over (and if they do, injuries are usually minor); and last but not least, motor-vehicle dominated cities are noisy and unpleasant places, and so bikes offer a quiet and civilised remedy to this.
I think that cycling is brilliant, not just for the bike rider but for the world. I intend to keep up the pace this year with my campaigning, and I hope to keep you updated with any developments/innovations that might be of interest.
All the best
Following the recent deaths on London’s busy streets, cyclists in the capital held a vigil and protest outside the headquarters of TfL (Transport for London). Despite the cold we lay down next to our bikes and made a pretty bold statement that TfL can no longer ignore.
London’s die-in was reminiscent of the famous Dutch die-in that took place in the 1970s on the museumplein outside the Rijksmuseum.
The Dutch campaign was motivated by the number of people (particularly children) who were dying on the roads. Their protest achieved remarkable things in terms of their infrastructure, and 40 years down the line they are still reaping the benefits.
Dutch solutions to London’s problems aren’t really so radical, and their implementation would only requires a modest degree of commitment from the government.
Look at how they deal with HGVs and roundabouts – surely this sort of infrastructure is desirable for everyone, no?
On a side note, my sister was interviewed by the BBC during the protest, and her vox-pop even made it onto the evening news! I will try to upload a video, if I can find one…
And the BBCs coverage of the event (my sister at 1:04)…
and another one…
- Cyclists lie outside Transport for London (TfL) headquarters to protest road deaths (express.co.uk)
- Thousands of cyclists lie down in the road for rush hour protest outside TfL’s Blackfriars HQ (standard.co.uk)
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Re-blogging this from a friend in NE Lincolnshire
The video shows some pretty dangerous situations that cyclists in the UK have to deal with on a daily basis.
Although the examples are pretty shocking, they are far from unusual.
I think the video speaks for itself and calls for better infrastructure to protect the most vulnerable road users.
The guy in the last shot was actually riding on one of London’s cycle super-highway, and clearly shows how a dab of blue paint on the road does nothing to protect people on bikes.
Look here to compare with how the Dutch deal with HGVs.
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Veteran journalist John Snow is also an avid cyclist.
He has commuted by bike both to and from work every day for the last 40-odd years, and he raises some valid points about the dangers of riding a bike and the inadequacy of cycle safety provisions.
He talks about the probability of ‘big rewards’ for the first politician to re-draw the urban map and prioritise cyclists and pedestrians. In terms of combating obesity, reducing pollution, and making our cities more pleasant places to live, I think I can see why such a measure would be well received.
He states that, as humans, we respond to our surroundings. On the issue of cyclists who flout the law, the point he makes is that good behaviour will come when there are good provisions to protect and facilitate cycling. At the moment, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there on the roads; as the underdogs, cyclists are therefore put in a position of vulnerability, and have to make the most of their situation. Snow doesn’t condone bad behaviour on the roads, but he can at least appreciate why it happens.