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.

 (Credit to YouTube user 'giddyjet')

The cyclist objects to being overtaken when he slows down for the lights by 'undertaking' when the car stops for the red light. He is trying to make the point that the car gained nothing by overtaking. The reaction "He's doing it deliberately!" suggests the point is not clear to the motorists.
(This attitude is often referred to as MGIF - 'Must Get In Front')

Later the driver with the dashcam shouts "Learn how to ride!", although the cyclist is riding precisely as Bikeability would teach.

"Learn how to ride!" and "no road awareness" seem to mean "Get off the road - you are in my way".

He says "I don't want to run you over" while edging the car towards the cyclists in an intimidating way.

He then overtakes where the road is narrowing at the exit from a roundabout, before demonstrating his own 'road awareness' by complaining at a car that gets in his way by stopping, to let a bus turn.

Other educational strategies include
  • if someone passes too close, I move out further
  • if motorists think I am too far from the kerb, they pass dangerously close, in a deliberate attempt to intimidate me (known as a 'punishment pass')
Yes, one could move into the gutter if a vehicle approaches or 'toots', but we don't want to train them to drive at us! Just give them a friendly wave.

The historical problem is that Bikeability was introduced without any attempt to educate motorists how to react. We need to take the education process off the roads, and back into the laws, textbooks , lessons and tests.

Particularly, we need to update the Highway Code to protect cyclists in line with Bikeability.

There is a Dutch take on education from SWOV:

Misconception 1: man is the cause, therefore education is the solution
Man has a central position in traffic. This means that traffic has to deal with human abilities and limitations. People make errors, even if they are well-trained and motivated: this is a universal human shortcoming crucial for traffic safety which is confirmed by crash analyses. This means that beside defects of the vehicle and roads, the human being is the most important cause of crashes. A commonly heard argument is that, consequently, most effort should be put into education, since infrastructure and vehicle are a lesser contribution to the problem. However, this line of thought fails to allow for the notion that the design or layout of the road environment can contribute to the prevention of errors, or limit the errors' consequences. Particularly man’s surroundings greatly influence human behaviour. Clearly, education also has an important role, but has limited scope. Ultimately, it is important to know the effectiveness of various types of measures in relation with the human measure and to use this knowledge.
I guess there are  also limits to the effectiveness of education: you can't perfect everyone (or mayne even anyone!).

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