From the Editor’s smoking laptop:
The proposals to introduce a Dutch style driver liability for UK car drivers, so that when turning at junctions cyclists or pedestrians automatically have right of way, are worthy, but in my view will lead to a test case when a serious accident occurs. What is needed in the UK is Dutch and Danish style infrastructure, not petty rule changes in the outdated Highway Code.
Nevertheless, the move to tweak the Highway Code in favour of cycle riders and pedestrians has been welcomed by road safety groups, politicians keen to jump on the road safety bandwagon and of course cycling campaign groups.
As I keen cyclist myself I like the idea that drivers should always give way to bike riders at junctions, and I’ve seen many cyclists simply keep pedalling across junctions, even when the traffic has right of way and I have paused. To gamble your life like that seems silly to me, but I think the new law will only up the stakes in the game of `right of way poker’ that takes place on UK pot-holed roads every single day.
In another twist to the whole cyclists vs car drivers battle, the EU plans to make it compulsory for electric bicycle riders to carry third party insurance, and this move annoys me a bit. Not because I ride electric, which I do, but because the hazardous cyclists on the pavements and roads are teeneage boys on MTBs, or packs of middle aged men on racing bikes living out their Tour De Yorkshire fantasy life.
Let’s be clear on one thing; the road is not a race track. Not for horse owners keen to put their Hunter through its paces, not for rally car fans organising a WRC section in North Wales, nor for packs of aggressive men on 2K Bianchis. Go and hire a track and do a trackday, like motorcyclists have been doing for the last 25 years. Oh and get insurance sorted as well because when middle aged start racing after a nice lunch, there’s always an incident in my experience…
Back to the Highway Code change for one last point. Having driven – and ridden motorcycles – across all of Europe, I’ve seen the chaos of Paris and Rome, the empty roads of rural France and the sleepy towns of Slovenia. What cyclists need are separate lanes, with traffic lights controlling the flow at peak commuter times, plus rules for pedestrians too, so that they stay well away from fast moving bicycles – electric or otherwise.
You can see this wonderful safe infrastructure being built in Copenhagen – here’s a link – and note that most cycle riders are not wearing helmets. That is because they do not expect to have a collision with an irate car driver, angry that they cannot get to work due to the 10,000 bike riders also trying to get to work. The pedestrians also have a separate lane, so a clown on a fixie with one brake cannot mow down an old lady staggering home from Lidl.
SHARED ROAD SPACE DOES NOT WORK
The idea that many UK politicians, experts and road safety campaigners promulgate, is that we should all be happy to `share road space,’ but this is patronising nonsense. The safe way to get everyone to work, shopping trips, leisure activities etc is by complete segregation of petrol, hybrid and diesel vehicles from the rest of us using more basic wheel power, and then separate those on bicycles, mobility scooters or Segways from the people doing the strolling while gazing at their mobiles.
The net result of the Highway Code rule change will be more confrontations via headcam on You Tube, more fist fights in London and other cities, and sadly more fatal accidents as cyclists ride straight across junctions in front of drivers who turn left and don’t see a bike rider approaching on the pavement or cycleway at 25mph. Then there will be a test case, as the court system has to decide how much liability is shared by bothe parties, and the fools who framed the legislation.
If just ten per cent of the massive £56 billion bill for the rich persons train set called HS2 was put into building cycleways, London, Manchester, Birmingham and more cities would have truly separate and safe cycle highways. But no, in Britain we prefer pathetic rule changes to actually doing something constructive to solve the root problem.
Rant over, have a great day. Keep biking.