Saturday, 30 July 2022

Friday, 1 June 2018

Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review: evidence


This is a personal response, from one who used to be

  • People who cycle regularly, whether for leisure, work or commuting

but is now
  • People who would like to cycle or walk more

I used to be a keen cyclist, with a rural commute of 100 miles per week, and occasional hundred-mile days just for fun.

About 10 years ago, I felt that occasional drivers were actually trying to kill me, so I stopped cycling regularly: I walk around town, and rarely travel at all. I miss cycling, and feel I no longer have a life. If I had not lost almost all motivation, I would seriously consider seeking asylum in the Netherlands, Denmark, or other countries where cycling is actually appreciated as a normal part of life, not vilified as an obscure, weird, legally-dubious anti-social deviancy.

There are many who are better-qualified to answer your actual questions, and I cannot provide much evidence, apart from my own experience, observations and feelings. I would like to point to one fundamental aspect.

At the deepest level, one of the greatest differences in 'attitude' is caused by where people are, on a psychological/philosophical axis between 'altruism and egoism' : how important you feel yourself to be, relative to other people.

When I cycled, I would explain why I chose it instead of driving, by saying "Cycling is safer". Most people disagree and disbelieve, since our culture says "Cycling is dangerous!" The difference is that our culture only considers the 'self' - "Am I safe?". They ignore the consequences for 'others' - "I am dangerous!" This egoistic approach to safety needs to be tempered with altruism: consideration of others. Often police will say to injured cyclists "You must take responsibility for your own safety. You could have avoided the collision ..." (by giving up your priority!) No - the responsibility should be on those who are dangerous to take more care. The rules of the road are not based on 'might is right'.
Cycling isn't dangerous, driving is!
For more egoism, ask drivers whether self-driving cars should choose to keep occupants safe, or pedestrians ...
For more altruism, talk to Dr Robert Davis, rdrf.org.uk.

How many parents drive their children to school, because the school-traffic is 'too dangerous' for them to walk or cycle? They have themselves caused the very risk that they are afraid of!

The 'rules' were originally written in a 'belt and braces way', so that road space deliberately included an empty space, as a 'buffer zone' for safety. (You can think of a hatched area with solid peripheral line as a concrete example, but also the amber phase of traffic lights as a temporal rather than spatial example. Also known as 'no-mans-land' or 'de-militarized zone'!) Now if one road user respects that empty space, another will abuse the space to gain unfair (unsafe) advantage. Again it is the 'Me first!' culture eroding safety margins. The space is meant to make the roads safe, so that mistakes don't cause collisions, but careless drivers have found that habitually 'making mistakes' gets them around faster. Perverse incentive ...

How many drivers actually 'Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear.' ? (Highway Code 126)

Our traditional Zebra Crossing rules mean that drivers should stop for pedestrians, and pedestrians should stop for drivers! Instead, it has become a race to see who can 'set foot' on the crossing first! Of course, it is unlikely that the driver will suffer, so 'might is right' becomes the rule. Shared spaces don't work if the driver experiences no personal risk. Even law won't help - we are lacking in basic human decency!

I think Bikeability training for cyclists is a great idea in theory, but no-one seems to have addressed the huge flaw: it should have included driver training! You teach cyclists to use 'primary position', using their vulnerability to try to discourage drivers from overtaking where/when it is unsafe. But there has been no complementary education of drivers, to explain why: "You were riding in the middle of the road: you should ride close to the kerb!"

Even police will often criticise a cyclist for riding exactly as they were taught.

I think this is the biggest single danger cyclists face: drivers that try to 'teach them a lesson'.
Christopher Robertson knocked Leslie Smith off his bike in 2009 because he thought the pensioner was taking up too much of the road.
Similarly, Michael Gledhill hit John Radford in July 2013 'unhappy about the cyclist’s position in the road'.
Only the killing cases cause minor headlines, no general public outcry, but I think the motivation is common to very many nasty incidents!
I often see comments on news sites and in social media:
"If a cyclist is an idiot. I will ignore them. If I happen to pass by them very close - so be it. They want to use the road dangerously? I'll make it more dangerous."
This is often accompanied by talk of 'respect' and 'share the road'!
Drivers need to understand Bikeability, too!
West Midlands Police 'Op ClosePass' is great: should be made to happen everywhere!

A series of 'Think!' TV ads showing a lorry overtaking a cyclist (26 Sep 2016) was followed by lorries being driven into cyclists, with the driver shouting 'Get out of my way: haven't you seen the ads on TV?'

I think more driving offences should be counted as 'Reportable/Notifiable' crime by the Home Office: 'possession of a knife' is counted, but dangerous driving isn't, unless you actually kill or seriously injure!
Many police still take the view "It's not a crime, just a road traffic offence."

Harassment by dangerous driving could be charged as a 'hate crime', or even 'terrorism'.
I wonder how many more cases of deliberate killing using a vehicle as a weapon are needed, before it is taken more seriously?

My answer to all of your questions is the same: encourage altruism and discourage egoism!

Can we put an end to the 'Road Tax = Entitlement' nonsense?


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Vigilant or Vigilante ? Why use video ?



Helmet camera "vigilantes" show the cyclists vs motorists battle - [ YouTube ]

Who is the vigilante?
Forever Computing  As long as a cyclist is using the road properly, I'll respect them. The moment they become stupid is when I stop caring for them.
Might is right. A motorcycle will crush a cyclist, there is a lot of mass there.
Forever Computing If a cyclist is an idiot. I will ignore them. If I happen to pass by them very close - so be it. They want to use the road dangerously? I'll make it more dangerous.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill

A Bill to make provision to strengthen penalties related to serious criminal driving offences that lead to serious injury or death; to redefine such offences and amend bail conditions for those charged with them; to enhance the standards of investigation, both by the police and in the Courts, into such offences; to improve the treatment of victims of such offences and their families within the justice system; and for connected purposes.

Monday, 16 November 2015

When is a crime not a crime ?

When it's a 'Road Crime' !
But why ?
Imagine if 'Firearms Offences' were not counted as 'Criminal Offences' : compare and contrast !



"The Other Idiot ..."

Most of the rules in the Highway Code are written to leave a margin of error, so that there is a clear 'no-mans-land' between potentially conflicting parties. If a collision occurs in this 'buffer zone', it is because both parties are at fault. If one party makes a momentary mistake, the 'buffer zone' protects both parties.

I remember reading about someone ( probably one of James Thurber's aunts or maids ? ) who just knew that it was always perfectly safe for her to blast across junctions at full speed, because everyone else had been taught to proceed with caution, and give way if necessary.

Monday, 22 June 2015

"... The oppression inherent in the system ..."


Much has been said in the press about cyclists' alleged poor compliance with traffic lights.
There is a systematic problem, in that many lights fail to change when a cyclist is waiting.
Usually there is a metal detector in the road, whose sensitivity is adjusted to be too low to detect a bicycle.

I have complained to Street Doctor about one set of lights at a renovated junction, to be met with the response "The lights meet the requirements !"

If the standard for traffic lights is to ignore cyclists, is it surprising if cyclists sometimes ignore lights ?
This is institutional discrimination openly applied at a hardware level ! Motorism !

The Highway Code has a get-out clause
176 You MUST NOT move forward over the white line when the red light is showing. Only go forward when the traffic lights are green if there is room for you to clear the junction safely or you are taking up a position to turn right. If the traffic lights are not working, treat the situation as you would an unmarked junction and proceed with great care.
Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36

Monday, 9 March 2015

Here's a good idea to save lives

This is a mirror of http://rabbit2020.blogspot.com/2014/10/heres-good-idea.html, which is partly pasted from Wikipedia !
It's from this guy

Which is the prequel to "cyclists are their own worst enemy" (South Kensington, 20th Feb 2015) - YouTube.

The 'Blog that scored in the hundreds' is archived on Imgur, even though it's not in Google cache.
And a Google Plus posting.
His 'Foodie Blog' is still up - if 'Toasted Sandwich and Crisps' counts as foodie ?
It's Damien Trench ! Perhaps this a new kind of reality-satire ?
Or perhaps he just has some medical issues ?

Cycle-proofing

The use of the word "Cycle-proofing" to imply "considering cyclists when designing roads" alarms me.
There are two similies that spring to mind:

  • 'fool-proof' implying cyclists are fools - perhaps they need not aspire to the lofty heights of intelligence and competence that we see displayed by 'professional drivers' on a daily basis, but considering that children are often cyclists might be beneficial.
  • 'water-proofing' - impermeability - cyclists cannot pass through here ?

See also

Thursday, 15 January 2015

'MUST NOT' vs 'DO NOT' and 'SHOULD NOT'

"Many of the rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’."... 
"Although failure to comply with the other rules of The Highway Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see The road user and the law) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘SHOULD/SHOULD NOT’ or ‘DO/DO NOT’."
(The capitalisation in the last sentence is mine - it really should be added to the Highway Code !)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

'False Flag' Operations !


Thought: if drivers lose their licences - how many become "I'm a cyclist myself" ? Or concern trolls ?
Does it explain the 'person-on-a-bike' 'No True Scotsman' thing ?

A motorist pretending to be a cyclist, making a spoof helmet-cam video, to discredit the real ones !



Note that the YouTube user's other videos are of him on a moped, and the branding at the end is MVAR - MotoVlogsAndRants.

Role-playing childish fantasies ?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Sidelights or Dipped Headlights ?


This is part of  General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

There seems to be a fine distinction just for roads with lighting, outside of built-up areas !
You must use headlights at night, except on a road which has lit street lighting ... you should use dipped headlights ... at night in built-up areas.
Surely that is unnecessary ?
slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by oncoming headlights
I doubt that ever happens - a judge told a jury to disregard the Highway Code's 'stop if dazzled by the sun' - R v Petterson
I would certainly not remove these so that motorists are permitted to drive while blinded. They need to be publicised and enforced.

Polaroid Eliminates Headlamp Dazzle

In 1929 Edwin H. Land patented plastic film that could polarise light.

If headlights are polarised \\\\\ and the windscreen or driver's glasses are polarised /////, then direct light is absorbed.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Crossings - Level, Zebras, Pelicans, Toucans, Puffins and Pegasus


There is a discrepancy between the Highway Code and the Law here !
The Highway Code could clarify whether it forbids cycles overtaking or being overtaken on crossings, by using the distinction between 'vehicle' and 'motor vehicle' precisely.

Actually, I would play safe, and leave the Highway Code as-is, for safety's sake.
It will be safer if cyclists neither overtake, nor are overtaken.

But we should definitely educate Driving Instructors, and also those who train and assess Driving Instructors, to err on the side of safety, instead of nit-picking about what are probably unintended loopholes in the Law !

Pedestrian crossings overtaking a cyclist ? - [ adiforum.co.uk ]

Contrast:
Highway Code 191
You MUST NOT park on a crossing or in the area covered by the zig-zag lines. You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.

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 lemnet.tripod.com
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.