Meet the jury

by GoingRoundInCycles   February 3, 2014  

For the first time in more than thirty years, I am considering quitting cycling in London. Why? Well the drip, drip, drip effect of depressing news reports has got me thinking, why bother? Is the undoubted joy of being able to make my way quickly and efficiently under my own steam through the city worth the daily disrespect and the lack of legal support that I can expect should I unfortunately need it?

The first story that got me really thinking was the one about the abusive cyclist punched by the Audi driver. It was covered here on road.cc and I knew at once that it would only be a matter of time before Britain’s foremost sensationalist rag, The Daily Mail, would gleefully run the story. Cards on the table, I think the cyclist must be an absolute fool to think that behaviour like that would likely go unpunished in London, but in any case that isn’t what really interests me.

The thing that interests me most is the readers’ comments in response to the article and the amount and ratio of likes to dislikes.

Here is a list of the 10 most ‘popular’ comments:

1 Probably the same cyclist who runs red lights and cycles on footpaths. 7193 Likes 1975 Dislikes

2 The cyclist was provoking him. They think they own the roads. 6364 Likes 1486 Dislikes

3 This is unacceptable but the Cyclist did kind of bring it upon himself by needlessly chasing after the car. 5458 Likes 734 Dislikes

4 Personally i blame the cyclist, he was the one shouting his mouth off and seems a bit too big for his boots, fair play to the audi bloke for showing him the floor. 4862 Likes 1152 Dislikes

5 Towards the end of the video another cyclist goes through a red light. They do seem to think they are a law unto themselves. I'm not saying the car driver is in the right by any means, but................ 3611 Likes 405 Dislikes

6 I'm a cyclist, i ride over 3000 miles a year on the roads of the UK and i'm on the side of the guy in the Audi, red arrow away but it is not the job of a man on a bike to aggressively approach a car, you don't know who was driving, maybe it was a 17 year old girl and the man in the back was her father, no one knows, the cyclist was too aggressive and he is not a police officer, leave policing the roads to the people that are paid to do so or the CCTV controllers. I see people driving like idiots every single day, life is short, let things go. 3401 Likes 299 Dislikes

7 Cyclist = total nightmare....They think they can do whatever! The most annoying people on the road....They put every driver at risk.....99% of the time, it is cyclist fault but in the eyes of the law SADLY it is always the driver fault. In London all cyclist should be banned. They should get penalties, fine, road tax.....TOTAL NUISANCE 2520 Likes 715 Dislikes

8 From what i can see the cyclist deserved it. They are becoming pests on our roads again. Especially with their sad little cameras they wear. Cowards 2212 Likes 656 Dislikes

9 Hope the driver reports the cyclist for starting it all. 1958 Likes 548 Dislikes

10 About time cycles had number plates so those that continually jump red lights can be prosecuted. 1928 LIkes 246 Dislikes

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2546709/Moment-Audi-passenger-got-car-PUNCHED-cyclist-pushing-bike-taxi-shocking-act-road-rage.html

There are many, many more like that from commenters who rather than restrict themselves to comments about the specific incident, they have seized the opportunity to damn all cyclists as red light jumping, tax dodging pests. There exists an overwhelmingly depressing consensus.

Now it is tempting to write these comments off as just the sort of thing one would expect from readers of the Daily Mail but it is apparently Britain’s most visited newspaper website. In any case as a regular London cyclist, I see no reason to dismiss these views as being unrepresentative of Britain’s general attitude.

Some might say, “Who cares? It is a free country and people can think what they like of us.”, except of course that the consequences of this hostility are far reaching and potentially devastating for cyclists and their families. This brings me to news story No. 2:

“Lorry driver who crushed Boris Bike rider fined £620”
http://road.cc/content/news/109980-lorry-driver-who-crushed-boris-bike-rider-fined-%C2%A3620#comment-226673

Now the details of how the collision actually occurred are not clear but reading between the lines from the 9 point penalty on the licence (the maximum possible for this offence), the fine (3 times the average), that the level of ‘carelessness’ was adjudged to be right on the limit of being classified ‘dangerous’. To support that view, the driver was originally arrested on suspicion for dangerous driving and to make matters worse the driver was also found guilty of operating a vehicle in a dangerous condition. If you were trying to build a strong case for the more serious charge, this lorry driver has provided plenty of ammunition. So why did the CPS back down?

I am speculating that pressing for the less serious charge meant that the offence would be tried in a Magistrate’s Court and there would therefore be a much better chance of securing a conviction without a jury. The more serious charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving would most likely be heard at Crown Court in a trial by jury, probably ending in a mindboggling failure to convict if these recent examples are anything like typical:

“Minibus driver cleared over Southampton cyclist death”
http://road.cc/content/news/109784-minibus-driver-cleared-over-southampt...

“Lorry driver in Mary Bowers case receives ‘insulting’ £2,700 fine for careless driving”
http://www.ctc.org.uk/lorry-driver-in-mary-bowers-case-receives-%E2%80%9...

“Sam Harding bicycle death: Kenan Aydogdu cleared of manslaughter”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20725496

As Roger Geffen, Campaigns Director of CTC says:

... the apparent reluctance of juries to convict for “dangerous” offences makes the CPS reluctant even to attempt to prosecute them, particularly where the driver is willing to plead guilty to a lesser “careless” offence. And the upshot is that driving which has caused obviously foreseeable “danger” is routinely dismissed as mere “carelessness”, with derisory penalties being the all-too-common result.
http://www.ctc.org.uk/blog/roger-geffen/crushing-cyclist-lorry-while-on-mobile-really-careless-driving

Which brings us full circle back to the Daily Mail and its ‘lovely’ readers or to put it another way, the likely jury in the trial of the absent minded goon that put you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. If attitudes like the ones cited above are representative of the public as a whole ... well it only takes three people like that out of 12 on a jury and your case is fucked.

I cannot say that I blame the police, the CPS, or MPs for this state of affairs. If juries will almost invariably side with motorists and not convict, it doesn’t matter what laws you pass, how thoroughly you investigate and how stinging you make the penalties. At face value, if the CPS are unable to secure convictions in trials by jury like the three cited above where the evidence would seem to be very strong, I don’t blame them for not continuing to waste public money trying to prosecute unless it can be verified by multiple independent witnesses that the driver was drunk, drugged, blindfolded and having sex at the wheel at the time of the collision with the cyclist ... and even then I imagine some of the Daily Mail readers will find a way to decide that somehow it was the cyclist's fault.

Should I feel safe sharing the roads with the majority of other road users who seem to regard me as a ‘pest’, a ‘nuisance’, a ‘law unto myself’, a ‘nightmare’? Should I have any confidence in receiving justice if I happen to find myself a victim of a careless or dangerous driver?

It seems to me that it doesn’t matter a jot whether the public’s perception of cycling and cyclists is wildly inaccurate, spot on or more likely somewhere in between, we should be thinking about what we can do as individuals and collectively to promote understanding and improve our relationship with other road users because the current level of hostility is toxic. If we do nothing or are unsuccessful, expect plenty more where this 'gem' came from today:

http://road.cc/content/news/110075-police-take-no-action-against-moped-r...

So what are we going to do about it?

29 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Has it always been this bad? Maybe.

It's a self-fulfilling, media-driven issue. Bad news stories are popular, always have been. Websites and papers need eyeballs for advertisers, controversy, bashing "out groups" (immigrants, the poor etc etc), pandering to prejudice and fear of the other is an easy, lazy, reliable way to make money.

You should blame MPs, the CPS and the Police. In a target-drive culture the Police have no incentive to prosecute. The bigger question is should you have faith in receiving "justice" at all.

"Man rides bike to work, no incident reported," covers the vast majority of my journeys. Not very news worthy. Does riding a bike make you happier? If it does, carry on.

I'll admit to have had thoughts like yours, but you know what, f*ck 'em. Riding a bike makes me happy, hopefully happier than the poor sods who are so dead inside that the bile they splurge on the Mail website is all they have left.

posted by thereandbackagain [155 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:32

130 Likes

I think you have 'hit the nail on the head' here, I do not know what to say really. It would take more than the threat of a grizzly end to stop me riding. I certainly get more out of riding than I lose because of abuse. Just recently I was quite happily riding down a straight wide road when I heard, "C**t" and saw a window being wound up.
You then read the paper and find that various people have been 'done' for drink driving. Then a story about a mother trying to drum up sympathy because her drunk, speeding son in a defective vehicle died with his drunk passenger; I have sympathy for her obviously. http://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/poor_weather_conditions_contribu...
It is a free for all out there. For another example a driver managed to kill someone and fail to see a lorry. His excuse 'the sun...' the jury felt that slowing to 25mph in a 30 limit was OK even when 'blinded by the sun' and he was found not guilty. http://www.middevongazette.co.uk/Dazzled-van-driver-cleared-causing-truc...
It would be nice if more people cared before the 'free for all' adversely affects them

posted by SideBurn [837 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:32

126 Likes

I'm afraid you're spot on with that, GoingRoundInCycles. Which is depressing indeed.

Every time I wonder about what could be done that would not have an adverse effect (e.g. direct confrontation might be satisfying in the short term but surely is incredibly harmful in the medium to longer term), I end up with education and enforcement.

However, you are making a good point regarding why the latter is not likely to be effective even if there was more money thrown at it.

Leaving the former. But how to (re-) educate several million people?

I keep thinking that even if you make only a small dent, like getting 1 out of 10 people thinking and maybe re-evaluating their attitude towards other more vulnerable people, that would still be hundreds of thousands people behaving less dangerously on the road.

How much is usually spent on road safety campaigns, and how do they attempt to reach people? Back when there were only a few TV channels there were public safety announcements. We don't seem to have them anymore, possibly due to fragmentation.

So, maybe a leaflet delivered to every British household, to hammer some points home? Just a few basic facts, explained in simple language. Maybe with pictures.

Address the most common misconceptions:

1. Road tax doesn't exist. Cyclists pay just as much for the roads as everyone else.
2. Cyclists in the middle of the lane are not riding there to annoy you (or to "make a point", thanks Mr Clarkson), they simply want to survive their daily commute.
3. No, leaving a few inches space when overtaking is not enough. Either change lane or leave at least 3 feet of room - if you can't do either, wait a few seconds until you can. Your impatience does not justify jeopardising another person's physical safety.
4. Roads are for everyone. If you want a motor vehicles only area, go on the motorway. The clue is in the name.
5. A cyclist coming off in the middle of a busy road has not "been taught a lesson", they are as good as dead. Don't use your car to bully or intimidate.
6. Most cyclists are also car owners. They have passed their test. They pay insurance. They might be a better driver than you are.

Et cetera.

Other than that, I'm out of ideas. How much would a leaflet campaign cost? Surely can't be that much.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:36

127 Likes

1. Do the Dutch thing. Lots of kids on the street with the "stop murdering our children" and " stop murdering our daddies" placards.

2. Make sure any journalist or politicians who might sympathise are well aware of all the heartrending stuff about the victims of car murderers.

3. Get the hard numerical stuff out there. Give journalists the ammunition to show just how much allowing cars costs us.

4. Push politicians for Strict liability laws. If we can bankrupt a few of the killers without needing juries to get over their sympathy for killers crap, you can bet there'll be a demand for better infrastructure.

posted by oldstrath [151 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:36

131 Likes

oldstrath wrote:

4. Push politicians for Strict liability laws. If we can bankrupt a few of the killers without needing juries to get over their sympathy for killers crap, you can bet there'll be a demand for better infrastructure.

Big thumbs up for strict liability. Oh, and more speed limits. 20 mph within any city / residential area.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:53

129 Likes

SideBurn wrote:
I think you have 'hit the nail on the head' here, I do not know what to say really. It would take more than the threat of a grizzly end to stop me riding. I certainly get more out of riding than I lose because of abuse. Just recently I was quite happily riding down a straight wide road when I heard, "C**t" and saw a window being wound up.
You then read the paper and find that various people have been 'done' for drink driving. Then a story about a mother trying to drum up sympathy because her drunk, speeding son in a defective vehicle died with his drunk passenger; I have sympathy for her obviously. http://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/poor_weather_conditions_contribu...
It is a free for all out there. For another example a driver managed to kill someone and fail to see a lorry. His excuse 'the sun...' the jury felt that slowing to 25mph in a 30 limit was OK even when 'blinded by the sun' and he was found not guilty. http://www.middevongazette.co.uk/Dazzled-van-driver-cleared-causing-truc...
It would be nice if more people cared before the 'free for all' adversely affects them

Not sure I could raise much sympathy to be honest. He was pissed, his mate was pissed, they weren't wearing seat belts, they were probably exceeding the speed limit. Mostly relieved that they only killed themselves.

Maybe instead of going on about Pass Plus his mother should be saying 'let's stop our kids driving' at least until they've grown up.

posted by oldstrath [151 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 19:59

126 Likes

It's not just the Mail, Saturday's Telegraph had some sub-Clarkson anti cyclist stuff by Erin Baker. I think it was meant to be amusing, but it just adds to the populations general sense of grievance against cyclists.

What makes it worse is Ms Baker is their motor cycling correspondent!

Sorry I can't quote from the article, it was used to mop up cat sick.

Crosshouses's picture

posted by Crosshouses [202 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 20:33

128 Likes

Thank you all for the replies thus far. I have only time for a quick reply now but I will revisit this tomorrow.

@thereandbackagain: “Has it always been this bad? Maybe.”
@SideBurn: “Just recently I was quite happily riding down a straight wide road when I heard, "C**t" and saw a window being wound up.”

In my opinion, no, the situation is worse than ever. Well at least it seems that way to me, living in London. It is not just media representation; the attitude of the public to cyclists is horrendous. In the last thirty years I would say that the status of cyclists has been downgraded from ‘harmless weirdo’ to at best ‘pious eco-warrior’ and at worst, ‘lawless, red light jumping, pavement riding, self-righteous, point-proving, anarchist, c**t”.

One of the problems, as I see it, is that cycling has become extremely politicised in recent years, much more so than it was twenty or thirty years ago. So many people seem to assume that you are trying to make a political point by cycling in London when you can plainly afford other options, as if your decision to cycle is somehow an explicit criticism of their transport modes rather than a simple desire to cycle because you enjoy it.

I was talking about this at work today with a colleague (a non-cyclist). She told me that she experienced something similar when she went vegetarian years ago. So many people would question her very aggressively as if somehow by going veggie she was making a political statement, or just trying to be difficult when the reality was that her decision was primarily a necessity for reasons of digestive health.

@userfriendly:
Every time I wonder about what could be done that would not have an adverse effect (e.g. direct confrontation might be satisfying in the short term but surely is incredibly harmful in the medium to longer term), I end up with education and enforcement.
However, you are making a good point regarding why the latter is not likely to be effective even if there was more money thrown at it.
Leaving the former. But how to (re-) educate several million people?

I am not sure either but it urgently needs to be attempted. One of the biggest problems as I see it is the total disconnect that now exists between how cyclists want to use the roads and how drivers think we should be using the roads. As you have pointed out, adopting safe positions are seen as “making a point” by the likes of (just for SideBurn Kiss ) weapons grade muppets like Clarkson.

Ironically, the best place to address this sort of issue is probably on a popular show like Top Gear, as it used to be, not as it is now. In the days of William Woollard (showing my age), Top Gear used to be a magazine show that dealt with the very real motoring issues that affect ordinary viewers.

The Bastard that this show has become is sadly 99% a car-wank porn medium presented by boorish fifty something ‘blokes’ stuck in a state of arrested development, who seem to think they are still at public school in the lower sixth. Wankers!

Maybe a proper transport show featuring news and debates concerning issues that affect all road users might be a start? Something like Countryfile for the roads? Any TV producers here who know how to pitch a show like this?

I do also think that adding a substantial cyclist awareness component to the driving test might be a start?

@oldstrath:
1. Do the Dutch thing. Lots of kids on the street with the "stop murdering our children" and " stop murdering our daddies" placards.

2. Make sure any journalist or politicians who might sympathise are well aware of all the heartrending stuff about the victims of car murderers.

3. Get the hard numerical stuff out there. Give journalists the ammunition to show just how much allowing cars costs us.

4. Push politicians for Strict liability laws. If we can bankrupt a few of the killers without needing juries to get over their sympathy for killers crap, you can bet there'll be a demand for better infrastructure.

1. To be honest. I don’t think the public gives a toss about protests and marches especially when they disrupt the ‘divine right’ to drive wherever they like. It might be counterproductive.

2 & 3. I totally agree with this but the problem is that the media, especially the mass media, tends to reflect the prejudices of its readers. Ideally a rag like the Daily Mail would have journalist(s) using the facts to place their cycling stories in context, well that is if they were in the slightest bit interested in reporting the truth, which of course they are not. Journalists like Peter Walker in The Guardian are doing a fantastic job but is he speaking to the converted?

4. This again! I still don’t agree with Strict Liability laws for reasons that we have previously discussed but it is a relevant point and widely supported.

Thanks again, everyone, for the positive input.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 22:20

123 Likes

I've got a great suggestion. Don't read any of the crap the Daily Mail puts out. Even better is that if everyone followed that advice the Fail wouldn't even exist. Win win.

posted by racingcondor [117 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 22:30

125 Likes

GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

One of the biggest problems as I see it is the total disconnect that now exists between how cyclists want to use the roads and how drivers think we should be using the roads.

A disconnect that results mostly from ignorance. I refuse to believe that the majority of people are evil and full of hatred. They just don't know any better. And ignorance is best addressed with education. This is where the government needs to step in.

I think a leaflet campaign would be a pragmatic starting point. Tell them, make a convincing argument that is phrased in simple wording which even the most intellectually challenged chav can wrap their head around.

A few million leaflets, ordered by a road safety charity in bulk, won't cost more than a few hundred thousand quid. Getting the main points into some thick heads might just save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries.

GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

Ironically, the best place to address this sort of issue is probably on a popular show like Top Gear

Funnily enough, that's what a work mate suggested too. You have to put bacon in the salad, or the kids won't eat it.

GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

I do also think that adding a substantial cyclist awareness component to the driving test might be a start?

Yes, totally. I think this might have a (comparatively) big impact too.

racingcondor wrote:

I've got a great suggestion. Don't read any of the crap the Daily Mail puts out.

Sticking your fingers in your ears doesn't change anything. The average person does read that crap. They positively gobble it up.

racingcondor wrote:

Even better is that if everyone followed that advice the Fail wouldn't even exist. Win win.

If, if, if. Wishing the problem away doesn't change anything either.

Also, two spaces after a period? Really? Nerd Wink

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
4th February 2014 - 0:23

124 Likes

Alternatively, the recent furore on the ASA banning the Cycling Scotland advert was reported on the BBC and opened up for comment. Click on all comments, and then highest and lowest rated. Even on the Daily Mail, you occasionally get some commenters swimming against the tide of moronity*.

Fundamentally, I don't give a flying proverbial about what people think about me, though it is nice to be thought of as cooler, smarter and more charitable, it only confirms what I already knew.

As far as the cycling environment is concerned - legal, physical, political - well - you can take a number of approaches. Ditch the bike and use another mode of transport (that grizzly is gonna have to get awfully aggressive for me to consider that), keep on riding regardless, and hope things get better, and congratulations, you just defined insanity.

Or get active. Join a local campaign group. Join a national campaign group. You mentioned television shows that don't involve people snorting petrol fumes with their trousers round their ankles. Bugger that. Buy a videocam, Start doing shows and putting them on Youtube. Find out what local politicians are doing for the physical cycling infrastructure, promote the good ones, and really promote the idiocy of the bad ones. Ride out with family, friends, colleagues. Not all of them will be riding carbon speed machines, but they will be riding. Promote bike training and maintenance courses. Do charity runs, there's plenty of them about, or start one with your local club/workplace/mates. Perhaps most importantly, just ride.

Over the next 20-30 years, the problem will solve itself as the cost of oil spirals upwards, and more and more people will turn to bikes to get themselves about. We're just ahead of the curve is all.

* this is a word. I checked. And if it wasn't, the Daily Mail would force me to invent it.

posted by Argos74 [297 posts]
4th February 2014 - 1:25

125 Likes

Argos74 wrote:

Ride out with family, friends, colleagues. Not all of them will be riding carbon speed machines, but they will be riding.

I'm already considered a fanatic weirdo at work and among friends. They simply can't wrap their heads around the fact that I consider the four hours I spend commuting to be the best part of the day. "Are you mad, why aren't you driving?"

It's really hard to get any of them on a bike. They seem to think it will automatically make them part of some weird religious sect where you wrap yourself in lycra and shave your legs. I get the leading by example idea, but ... I may be doing it wrong? Silly

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
4th February 2014 - 1:44

125 Likes

Perhaps there should be a new regulation to ensure that all new bikes are sold with one of these:
http://www.aspli.com/products/1919/break-glass-emergency-escape-hammer?g...

Just think of the fun you could have riding through a long queue of traffic.

I'm not serious about vandalising peoples property by the way, but I do often wonder that if there were a spate of motorists being seriously assaulted by groups of vigilante cyclists perhaps a bit more respect would be given. Maybe people would think twice about bullying their way through at pinch points or offering up punishment passes if they thought they were running the risk of being surrounded by an angry mob yards down the road. Might as well make the most of not being registered, hey?

Perhaps then the police would start genuinely asking questions about road safety. When motorists start not making it home to their families due to acts of aggression from cyclists maybe people will start considering why it's happening and reconsider what is acceptable behaviour when driving.

Of course this isn't going to happen, nor would I want to live in a place where this happened. We all know the Ghandi quote about an eye for an eye making the whole world blind and lord knows we have enough people on the roads not using their eyes as it is, but sitting back and politely asking to not be killed, maimed, injured or treated like some sort of sub species is getting us nowhere. Maybe it's time for something different?

posted by farrell [1520 posts]
4th February 2014 - 10:11

120 Likes

one thing that needs addressing, click baiting by papers, they know that anti cyclist stories gets readers, which get advertising.

second, twitter and the anti cyclists abuse on there, do we allow racism or sexism? so why is it acceptable to single out cyclists?

If someone is guilty of a crime, be it cyclist or motorist then fine they should be prosecuted, but singling out a group of road users just because!

As a final point, NEVER EVER visit the daily mail website, traffic means revenue!

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1179 posts]
4th February 2014 - 10:32

117 Likes

farrell wrote:
Perhaps there should be a new regulation to ensure that all new bikes are sold with one of these:
http://www.aspli.com/products/1919/break-glass-emergency-escape-hammer?g...

Just think of the fun you could have riding through a long queue of traffic.

I'm not serious about vandalising peoples property by the way, but I do often wonder that if there were a spate of motorists being seriously assaulted by groups of vigilante cyclists perhaps a bit more respect would be given. Maybe people would think twice about bullying their way through at pinch points or offering up punishment passes if they thought they were running the risk of being surrounded by an angry mob yards down the road. Might as well make the most of not being registered, hey?

Perhaps then the police would start genuinely asking questions about road safety. When motorists start not making it home to their families due to acts of aggression from cyclists maybe people will start considering why it's happening and reconsider what is acceptable behaviour when driving.

Of course this isn't going to happen, nor would I want to live in a place where this happened. We all know the Ghandi quote about an eye for an eye making the whole world blind and lord knows we have enough people on the roads not using their eyes as it is, but sitting back and politely asking to not be killed, maimed, injured or treated like some sort of sub species is getting us nowhere. Maybe it's time for something different?

And of course if we did such a thing even some people on here would scream blue murder about vandalism and disgraceful criminality. Quite possibly the same people who are prepared to allow 'momentary lapses of attention' as an excuse for murder. Maybe smashing a few peoples' precious metal boxes might indeed get their attention. Because sod all else does.

posted by oldstrath [151 posts]
4th February 2014 - 10:43

116 Likes

First up, as has been said before, if you ever get the urge to read anything on the Daily Mail website, go and sit in a cold dark room until the feeling goes away; it will.
Second, do not give in.
What to do ? Well for a start, look out for each other. If something badly wrong is happening, stop, take down details and offer to be a witness. On Friday I will be going to court as a witness to a cyclist left hooked off his bike by a hit and run driver. Guess what ? The driver's plea is not guilty because he has probably been advised that the witness won't show up. Wrong assumption, I will be there and he'll probably change his plea at the last minute.
Perhaps a bit more news coverage of successful prosecutions for bad/obnoxious driving might start to turn the tide.
Get on to your MP. Inform him/her that the lack of justice is unacceptable and that the party addressing this will get your vote. This is your period of maximum influence in the run up to an election.
This is a long haul but it will be worthwhile for the next generation at the very least.

posted by arfa [513 posts]
4th February 2014 - 11:44

119 Likes

arfa wrote:
First up, as has been said before, if you ever get the urge to read anything on the Daily Mail website, go and sit in a cold dark room until the feeling goes away; it will.
Second, do not give in.
What to do ? Well for a start, look out for each other. If something badly wrong is happening, stop, take down details and offer to be a witness. On Friday I will be going to court as a witness to a cyclist left hooked off his bike by a hit and run driver. Guess what ? The driver's plea is not guilty because he has probably been advised that the witness won't show up. Wrong assumption, I will be there and he'll probably change his plea at the last minute.
Perhaps a bit more news coverage of successful prosecutions for bad/obnoxious driving might start to turn the tide.
Get on to your MP. Inform him/her that the lack of justice is unacceptable and that the party addressing this will get your vote. This is your period of maximum influence in the run up to an election.
This is a long haul but it will be worthwhile for the next generation at the very least.

Good for you, looking out for each other is important. Making sure your voice is heard is important. I know the quote is apocryphal, but remember

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

posted by thereandbackagain [155 posts]
4th February 2014 - 12:10

116 Likes

That's a pretty pessimistic point of view. The thing to remember about news is to why it actually is news? ie why does it get coverage?

In the case of the punched cyclist the main reason why it was covered in a national paper and elsewhere including on road cc was because there was some nice clear video of the incident. ie Pictures were available. I don't think a report of a man punching a cyclist after some verbal exchanges in the rush hour would be news without pictures.

By the way the same thing happens with car drivers all the time. People shout at each other and make rude signs and occasionally get out of their cars and assault each other.

Most people avoid getting into such situations by being grown ups. Don't shout abuse at other road users (or anybaody really) or make rude gestures or get into pointless arguments. If you do then it may well escalate. Whether you are on a bike a motorbike or in a car or lorry it doesn't matter. You have no idea who the person in the other car is. Police officer, uninsured drunk driver, drug addict, violent psychopath.

I'd say it is particularly good advice for cyclists. Unlike a motorist you can't just wing the windows up and sit safely in your steel box if things get nasty. Unlike a motorcyclist you can't just speed away through the traffic. As a cyclist you have neither the speed to get away or the protection of a vehicle if any road rage transpires.

So try not to contribute to it,or do anything that makes it more likely. Or if you do then be aware of the consequences.

Now ask yourself why road rage occurs. Why do people feel it's ok to cut in to orderly queues on a road but not at a supermarket checkout. Why will they scream abuse at other road users for mistakes or for travelling too slowly but politely forgive them for a mistake or just walk a bit more slowly on a pavement without saying anything?

It's the box mainly. In their box they feel safe from consequences. Unless a police officer sees them hurling abuse they'll suffer no consequences of that behaviour. If they started behaving like that on the high street then they would run the risk of confrontation and assault.

Now we can't help how motorists react from the safety of their steel box. All we can do is control how we act. Just act like you would in the high street. Don't be a shouty fist waving sign giving lout. It won't completely protect you but at least it won't inflame others to get out and whack you one.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [662 posts]
4th February 2014 - 13:00

119 Likes

@userfriendly:
A disconnect that results mostly from ignorance. I refuse to believe that the majority of people are evil and full of hatred. They just don't know any better. And ignorance is best addressed with education. This is where the government needs to step in.

I agree but not just the government. I’d like to see CTC reaching out to the RAC and other motoring organisations to try to thrash out and publicise a code of conduct / good practice that takes into account the needs of all road users. We have plenty of areas of common interest; pot holes, appalling signage, unnecessarily complicated road layouts etc and maybe we could put more pressure on government and local authorities if we work together?

@Argos74:
Or get active. Join a local campaign group. Join a national campaign group. You mentioned television shows that don't involve people snorting petrol fumes with their trousers round their ankles. Bugger that. Buy a videocam, Start doing shows and putting them on Youtube. Find out what local politicians are doing for the physical cycling infrastructure, promote the good ones, and really promote the idiocy of the bad ones. Ride out with family, friends, colleagues. Not all of them will be riding carbon speed machines, but they will be riding. Promote bike training and maintenance courses. Do charity runs, there's plenty of them about, or start one with your local club/workplace/mates. Perhaps most importantly, just ride.

I like this a lot.

@farrell and @oldstrath: I think that is called adding fuel to the fire ... I am thinking more about extinguishers right now. Wink

@oozaveared:
That's a pretty pessimistic point of view. The thing to remember about news is to why it actually is news? ie why does it get coverage?

Dreadful news coverage isn’t the point that I am trying to make. My point is that the negativity towards cyclists exhibited more and more openly by the general public, is worse than I have ever known it and it is having a serious impact on our ability to seek redress when we are unfortunate enough to become victims of terrible driving.

Take the Blasphemy Laws. I am glad they are gone but the reason that they are gone is because as society became increasingly secular it became virtually impossible to find a jury that would convict. The CPS gave up prosecuting anyone so the last few attempts at prosecution were brought by private individuals or evangelical Christian groups and they were also doomed to failure.

It feels a bit like that right now. I know that it is (somewhat) of an exaggeration but what do cyclists have to do to get even an investigation going let alone justice in a case like the recent moped criminal kicking the cyclist’s front wheel on camera?

Like @userfriendly, I don’t believe for one minute that the vast majority of motorists are evil, heartless scum on the lookout for cyclists to maim and kill but I do believe that there is a tiny minority who have a pathological hatred for cyclists and I worry that they are increasingly emboldened by the knowledge that they can pretty much do what they like and get away with it. Just claim that the cyclist you hit was 'wobbling all over the road' in court and the chances are there are at least three people on the jury who will buy that crap and let you off.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
4th February 2014 - 23:15

111 Likes

Fortunately for me I do not have to cycle in London. You all have my admiration. One way I thought of that may show the benefits of cyclists commuting in London is to arrange a week long demonstration where cyclists commute using there cars. I imagine the impact on congestion may be frustrating to all those usually moaning about cyclists. I say a week long demonstration as a day will be just put down to one of those bad days we all get. London is the only place this would have any effect.

paulw

posted by wmpmw02 [23 posts]
5th February 2014 - 9:18

108 Likes

Just checked, and printing 26.4 million leaflets, one for each British household - A5 folded, colour front, B/W back - would come in at 1 million pounds. That's printing costs, not including delivery.

Still, that cost seems rather low to me compared to the billions spent on road maintenance and safety. There has to be some budget that can be tapped for a simple campaign like that.

The leaflet wouldn't even need to make its agenda obvious Wink how about a Daily Mail-like tabloid layout and a sensationalist headline, e.g. something like

"The TRUTH about road tax - have we been lied to? Who really pays for our roads?"

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
5th February 2014 - 16:58

105 Likes

'Don't be a shouty fist waving sign giving lout. '

this. very much so.

posted by andyp [966 posts]
5th February 2014 - 17:06

105 Likes

More cyclists on the road is the answer for me (so quitting isn't an option!). The sooner we 'normalise' cycling the better. We'll do that with more cyclists.

That's why I'm not so sure the whole 'stop killing cyclists' campaign and their ilk are helping - they just emphasise the dangers of cycling. More here on a recent blog post, questioning the tactics of some cycle campaigns:
http://humancyclist.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/dangers-of-cycling-propaganda/

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [351 posts]
5th February 2014 - 21:31

106 Likes

Postscript to this thread. The driver concerned got a lengthy ban for leaving the scene of an accident. I was the only witness who showed up. Moral of the story, if we want bad drivers dealt with, look out for each other.

posted by arfa [513 posts]
7th February 2014 - 17:15

95 Likes

Well done, arfa. Applause

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
8th February 2014 - 23:20

76 Likes

Coming to this item as a result of :

https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopKillingCyclists

A lot of sense in this article , and like others , i wish it was possible to BEAT SENSE into some of the motorists that cause me grief on Austrian Roads ! Sadly that would not work , since many are copying the lack of dedication to practicing the "Regs" that EMERGENCY VEHICLE drivers fail to utilise in their daily duties on the roads .

Until the Polizei are seen to be giving 1 1/2M safe pass with Signals , Herr/in Public , will choose to ignore those Driving requirements with a shrug & " Well they don't do it , so why should i "?

Your " LIKE " will help :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vision-ZERO-Worldwide/540123632761709

BoZo & David Cameron having a " Vision "? That would be the DAY !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [385 posts]
18th February 2014 - 20:27

2 Likes

It's a complete lottery who gets on a jury.

One of the problems with democracy is that it is a very short step from 'majority rule' to 'oppression of minorities'.
Peter Tatchell has some interesting comments about problems with democracy - I haven't heard them myself.

I just discovered this case today:
http://www.henleystandard.co.uk/news/news.php?id=1354657
http://road.cc/content/news/95681-pharmaceutical-consultant-who-killed-c...
Unanimous decision within 4 hours' jury deliberation.

If the last quote from the defence is typical, it seems to have been 'character assassination' of the deceased's boyfriend ! Their bikes collided first, when he took emergency avoiding action.

It seems that de-criminalising 'reckless driving' seems to have left a gap between 'careless driving' and 'dangerous driving'.
Remind me, why did Parliament do that ?
Because all driving is 'reckless' ? (ie 'knowing your action is risky, you proceed regardless')

Note also “I decided the safest thing to do was to continue straight ahead BECAUSE THEY WERE IN SINGLE FILE. If I had been concerned I would have stopped [suddenly]."
Thinks: CYCLE TWO ABREAST ?
[suddenly] is omitted by the local paper, but present in road.cc and even the Daily Mail.

Comment from a local 'experienced cyclist' : "Without doubt a novice cyclist should not have been there".
She wasn't a novice - it was her first ride [on a new (used) bike] - bad reporting !
http://www.henleystandard.co.uk/news/news.php?id=1363185

Usual Daily Mail comment: "Thats the problem with bikers, no driving lessons, no test and don't follow the highway code ... insurance."

The Mail says "It was unclear whether the young Czech woman had actually been struck by the defendant’s Mini but the other pair of cyclists claim they heard an impact." [independent witnesses disbelieved ?] How come drivers often "don't notice" bodies bouncing off their bonnets ?
Poor forensics. She survived a week - was it not treated as 'possibly fatal' by the investigators ?

Again the defence may have stretched that into 'reasonable doubt', but even the Mail contradicts itself "She had been trying to overtake two other cyclists in her red Mini but collided ..."
Reports that she had been thrown 15 yards are incorrect - the cyclists ended up 15 yards apart, mostly due to his reaction and stopping distance.

How serious do injuries between two cyclists riding together ever get ?

They say "It's better that 1000 guilty people go free than one innocent person get convicted", but I'm sure justice could have been better served here, particularly by the police, prosecutor and judge - I guess the jury were misled.
There is apparently no way to appeal a 'not guilty' verdict - really ?

posted by Eric D [5 posts]
28th March 2014 - 0:14

1 Like

Thinking about why I disbelieve the driver in "It was unclear whether the young Czech woman had actually been struck by the defendant’s Mini".

I'm only quoting the articles above from memory, but the boyfriend described the gap between mini and verge as tiny - two feet. The driver said the deceased + cycle was travelling sideways - at right-angles. Either she pivoted about the front wheel to the right, into the path of the mini, or to the left so she would land on grass ! I've been knocked off onto a grass verge at about 25mph, and was just shaken - not even hurt. The driver gave me tea from their thermos, and I pedalled on. And I wasn't wearing a helmet.

Talking of helmets, one press report seemed surprised she died (after a week), even though she was wearing a helmet.

Police will be less thorough in a simple collision investigation, but a potential fatality should get a full manslaughter(murder)-quality forensic crime-scene procedure.
Road closed for hours, all vehicles body parts and accessories secured as evidence. Thorough search for marks on road, verge, vehicles - paint flakes, fingerprints, dna smears to match in the lab. Skid marks + debris photographed, measured and mapped on computer.

I wonder if wearing a helmet counts against you in terms of thoroughness of investigation ?

posted by Eric D [5 posts]
28th March 2014 - 3:12

2 Likes

Don't give up. We need you.

Eventually there will be enough cyclists that everyone will know someone they care about who cycles. This is the true meaning of Critical Mass.

There was a time when we were the 'in-group' and motorists were the 'out-group'. Look at the Punch cartoons from the early years of motoring (Cartoonists are fantastic social barometers).

Revolution means cycle and we are half-way round. We will rise again!

Just remember.
If the Daily Mail hates you, you must be doing something right!

posted by levermonkey [378 posts]
28th March 2014 - 7:58

4 Likes