Like a moth to the flame I am drawn to any blog, newspaper article concerning cycle safety. I often can’t help myself and try to engage with the more ignorant and hateful comments in the inevitable bile that follows such posts. It’s rarely worth it.
For the record, as part of my job I drive over 20,000 miles a year around the UK and have done so for the last 12 years. I’ve racked up over 250,000 miles, close to double the average mileage that the motor industry accepts when considering the mileage of used cars (12,000 miles apparently is the accepted industry average). In that time:
- I have never sat in a traffic jam caused by cyclists;
- I can only think of a handful of occasions when I’ve been held up by more than a minute by a cyclist, never once held up “for miles” as every comment thread seems to suggest;
- Have spent many more hours than I care to count in traffic jams on the motorway network where cyclists are banned;
- Have seen infinitely more speeding drivers and drivers texting than I have cyclists jumping red lights;
- Been knocked over by a careless driver on a zebra crossing;
- Been knocked off my bike twice by careless drivers turning out of junctions;
- Been deliberately brake tested by drivers twice while cycling;
- Have had two passes so close that I’ve felt compelled to report them to the police, apart from the countless other “careless” close passes;
- Been sworn at and abused more times than I care to remember (last time, on Saturday in Weymouth on a very gentle warm up ride where I had to brake because a car pulled out of a junction, “Slow down you f______ c___.” at full volume on a busy high street.);
- Heard countless stories about friends who have had close shaves, accidents and abuse while out cycling;
- Been sworn at once by a cyclist on the Lancaster to Caton cycle path who I suggested was going too fast while I was walking with my family and dogs;
- Been treated by respect by over 99.9% of all motorists that I encounter.
If this sounds a bit “holier than thou” then I can only apologise, but this is the reality of my experience as a cyclist in the UK.
I think it’s brilliant that West Midlands Police seem to have realised that driver education is not the solution to driver intolerance and aggression towards cyclists and a zero tolerance approach and prosecution is the correct way to proceed. How have they decided this? By looking at the evidence on their patch. They found that ? of accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles occurred close to junctions and the vast majority of these were due to car drivers not spotting the cyclists. The blog post is a long one, but well worth reading, which is much more than the commenters underneath the Facebook share of the blog seem to have done (see embedded Facebook post below). They are intent on trotting out the same old hoary chestnuts: cyclists don’t pay road tax, aren’t insured, ride on the roads “3 or even 4 abreast”; are arrogant lawbreakers; should be a police priority etc. etc… as if these are an excuse for their intolerance and hatred.