Friday, 3 October 2014

Dazzled by Headlights or the Sun ? Stop !

There have been many recent cases where drivers that drive while blinded by low sun have been acquitted of dangerous or even careless driving. Judges are ignoring the Highway Code when sentencing, and instructing juries to ignore it when deliberating the verdict.
If nothing else, this is unnecessary tautological duplication.
93 Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by bright sunlight.
6. Hot weather ...
237 ... If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.
It seems that we have no protection when on east-west roads after dawn or before dusk under UK case law. Perhaps there should be a curfew ?

Fog is already an accepted excuse for bad driving, so I wonder which universally-encountered weather conditions will be blamed for bad driving next ? Ice, Snow, Rain, Wind, Night, Cloud ?

The principle used to be Highway Code 126
Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear.
Pro Tip : If a car's number plate appears to be lit up, you are directly between them and the sun, so you are invisible.

Really, I would advise not using the roads when the sun is low. Extreme but safe !

Even slowing down is dangerous.
RAF Northolt Station Commander killed on A40 - [ Road Justice ]
"He was dazzled by sunlight, he slowed down and moved to the slow lane when other drivers were flashing their lights to say has driving too slowly, and that he was looking out for motorcyclists overtaking him at the time of the crash. He drove into the back of Group Captain Tom Barrett OBE, who was cycling"

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Space Lemmings - Peer Pressure - Race to the Bottom

Space Lemming courtesy of
There are two tribes of road users, each of which thinks the other is dangerous - the fast and the slow.

Slow motorists often say they feel pressured to drive badly (eg speeding) by other motorists, specifically the one behind them.
  • Fast motorists say it is the slow motorists (not just cyclists) that are dangerous, because they get in the way, and even get them angry, 'forcing' them to drive badly.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

There's more to life than not being dead ...

In safety statistics, analysts often use KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) statistics.
Main reasons :
  1. Numbers killed often are, thankfully, too low for any statistically-significant conclusions to be drawn until many years have passed.
  2. Serious Injuries are usually about ten times more frequent, and often life-changing. So taking measures to reduce them is arguably just as important as reducing fatalities.
  3. Many other factors affect whether a casualty dies :
    • Vehicle engineering - crumple zones, airbags, seat-belts, safety glass
    • Emergency service response, particularly Air Ambulances
    • Medical care in hospital
Further than that, there are many 'Quality of Life' issues that are worth considering.
  • Perceived Safety
  • Improved lifestyle
  • Community well-being
  • Stress and Mental Health

Monday, 22 September 2014

Weaving all over the road ...

When I was a Sea Scout (1973-7 Hi to the 1st Scrabster troop!), Dick Message aka 'Skip' taught us how to tell if two vessels were on collision course. There are two equivalent methods:
  1. With a compass take a bearing on the other vessel, wait a minute and take another.
    If the bearing hasn't changed, you are on collision course. Change course. Repeat.
    Obviously, if both vessels change course and are still on a different collision course, slowing down can help, too !
  2. If there is land on the distant horizon, (or stars above it) see if the other vessel is moving fore or aft relative to the distant land or stars. If neither, ie the vessel is stationary with respect to a distant landscape, you are on collision course. Of course, it won't hold true for a nearby coastline, or if you watch for hours because the stars 'move' (relatively speaking).

    "All our eyes on the distant horizon" Join in, everybody !
What does that have to do with cyclists 'weaving all over the road', you ask ? Patience !

Friday, 19 September 2014

Obstruction ?

In the early days of motoring, there was a law that every vehicle had to be preceded by a man walking with a red flag, and the vehicle had to stop when he waved it, to let horse-drawn traffic past safely.

One father has tried using his car to make it safe for his son to walk to school, as part of a campaign for a footway.
Could be a useful tactic for a Critical Mass ride ?

'Police advised him against this course of action for safety reasons.
'Officers have advised him that he is at risk of causing an unlawful or wilful obstruction should he continue to do this.'

Note that the police are fearful that other motorists might overtake unsafely. Pandering to the lowest level of incompetence can only encourage bad drivers.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Counter-CounterMeasures - Glasses, Goggles, Face-Mask

Things are moving too fast for me here - I have started several 'Countermeasures' posts-in-draft, but it feels more important to post about Counter-CounterMeasures first !

If motorists have reached the stage of squirting liquids in cyclists' faces, then that is another good reason to consider wearing Glasses, Goggles or Face-Mask.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Safety Theatre

No, I don't mean dramatic productions in schools to reduce risk to children , wonderful though that is !

I mean taking steps to make things look safe, but which have little or no beneficial effect in practice.

Googling "safety theatre" finds (mostly ? ) only the theatricals, but the American "safety theater" works.
The term Security Theater is wider-known, among conspiracy theorists at least.

It's questionable which things are effective and which not - the list below is neither definitive nor complete. It's part of the definition of 'Safety theatre' that we can't tell which measures are effective.

Obedience and Blame

The number of official contributory factors present in car-bike collisions are similar for cyclists and drivers.
Some factors are arguably bigger than others - I don't know if they were weighted.
The full report runs to 60 pages.
Slightly more contributory factors for cyclists, but I would guess it's not statistically significant.
Since the motorist is (almost?) never the fatality, that may introduce some bias. It would be interesting to exclude cases where the cyclist was unable to give a statement before dying.

Of course, risking your own life is not at all the same thing as risking anothers' !

The top factor was 'failed to look properly' for both sides, in about 30% of cases.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Martyrdom and Herd Immunity

Despite what Tom Stafford may say, cycling is not an inherently selfish activity.

For the bottle-carriers in the peloton, it is a team effort.

Personally, a large part of the reason I don't drive is to increase safety. To all those of you that like to argue whether cycling is nearly as safe as motoring (per hour) or thirty times more dangerous (per mile), that will sound a little crazy.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Overtaking - Roles and Responsibilities

Distance beside

Needs specific minimum space law ?

The Highway Code is not all enforced.
Lifting a finger - [ Pedaller ] asked police to discourage unsafe overtaking on bends.
"Rule 166 of the Highway Code states – DO NOT overtake if there is any doubt, or where you cannot see far enough ahead to be sure it is safe ... 
Accordingly the drivers overtaking you in contravention of this rule do not commit an offence per se and so it would not be a matter in which the police would intervene."
Perhaps that should be
"You MUST NOT overtake if there is any doubt ..."
 There was an ePetition
Clearly distinguish safe and unsafe overtaking of cyclists in law by establishing a 1.5m rule.
It only gained 231 signatures, I don't know how widely it was publicised.

Traffic Calming - Pedestrian Refuges

Motorists Please do not overtake cyclists through pedestrian refuge
You would think a council would re-think dangerous features, instead of erecting 9-word signs.

Pedestrian refuges are certainly an aggravating factor when motorists want to overtake cyclists.
I would be interested to know if they are actually useful to pedestrians, and whether they have a positive or negative effect on overall safety. I suspect that their only effect is to bring traffic speeds down, but at the cost of cyclists' safety.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Motorism and Hate Crime

Martin Porter QC on Twitter: "It's sort of annoying that he knows he can put up a video like that with absolutely no chance of the police taking any interest."

One for the Met's future "Online Hate Crime Hub" ?
London Police now use a very wide definition - 'any other actual or perceived difference' !

Why do people hate cyclists – I Pay Road Tax

Of course, not everyone sees it like this - more discussion can be found here :
The Only '-ism' in the Village ... - [ Motorism - a failure of democracy ! ]

The Highway Code in 100 words

The Highway Code in 100 words was an exercise in reducing the bloat and distilling the essential spirit of the Highway Code, when it was last published in 2007.
It came from a pro-speed, anti-camera motoring campaign group's forum, but is none the less interesting for that !

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Two Tribes Go To War (people, vehicles, modes)

Some people ask "Why can't we all just get along?"
This is the thinking behind 'Shared Spaces' and 'Share the Road'.
(not to be confused with 'shared space' - roads are shared space by default : exceptions include motorways and 'mandatory cycle lanes').

They generally object to the distinction between cyclists and motorists - "Sometimes I cycle, sometimes I drive, so the distinction is artificial - I am both".

If this approach really worked, there would be no problem.
There is a problem, so maybe it doesn't work ?
Am I missing something ?

The Only '-ism' in the Village ...

'Bloody hell. Really? You're cyclists. Not a persecuted ethnic group. Get a grip. Nobody is inflaming, apart from this "blogger" '
While Googling to see if this blog is being crawled by Google's spiders, I stumbled across a blog post presenting a viewpoint diametrically opposed to mine !

Yeah, “motorism” isn’t a thing… Reflections and Rants

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords

more ...

Google's driverless cars have clocked up 700,000 miles around California by late April 2014 - with only two accidents : one occurring in 'manual' mode , one was rear-ended while stopped at lights.
I guess that puts the algorithm in the top 5% of good drivers, but doubt if accurate statistics for humans exist!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

No aggro but ... respect the road the way I do ... because I've got registration (OV13 VNM)

There's  a motorcyclist who seems to like to educate London cyclists about mobile phone use by very direct means - a mirror to the elbow.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

"Cycling is Dangerous"

No it isn't.

Motoring is dangerous : cyclists are endangered...
... as are pedestrians and even other motorists !

Those that say "Cycling is Dangerous" have obviously given the subject no thought.

Their aim may be to exaggerate the fear of motorists, in a word, terrorism.

I've even experienced the argument taken to extremes:
"It's dangerous because if you get in my way, I'll get angry and I might do something dangerous - that could get you killed."
So ... do we roll over in the gutter and let the terrorists have their way ?
"Kid killed - how dangerous are 'Balance Bikes'?"

Tragedy of the Commons

According to Wikipedia, The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory by Garrett Hardin, according to which individuals behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.

The original example was common grazing land - all the commoners could buy more cattle to graze there, so they all did, resulting in over-grazing resulting in the cattle dying.

I think it now applies to roadspace - anyone can own a car, so too many do. People are reluctant to drive somewhere, if they fear it will be difficult to find a parking space there. Motorists even object to those that use less space, fearing they move more slowly.

Monday, 28 July 2014


It's not 'Road Tax': it's 'Vehicle Excise Duty' and is really a Pollution Tax. says it all so much better than I could !

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Education, not war

This video is interesting as it clearly illustrates the "War on Britain's Roads" as an educational process.
The motorist and the cyclist are each trying to educate the other in road-etiquette.