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More media coverage, but more heat than light?

In the wake of MP Andrea Leadsom’s 10 minute rule Bill proposing a 'dangerous cycling' law, the BBC has got involved in the debate both via this web article and its national radio networks.

While we should perhaps be encouraged that cycling appears to be increasingly deemed a subject worth talking about in the mainstream media, it is also clear from reading comments attached to the BBC article that public opinion can be so polarised as to render sensible debate practically impossible.

But there are voices of reason out there and responding to the BBC article entitled “Is dangerous cycling a problem?” a commenter called Jonathan appears to reflect a view which is typical of many converts to cycling who are keen but worried about the perceived dangers.

“If there were more cycle routes and lanes provided then cyclists would be less likely to venture on to pavements, a behaviour which is largely caused by fear of being injured or killed by a motor vehicle when cycling on the road,” he says.

“I'm nervous about cycling on the road myself now after being involved in a traffic accident, where the driver is now being prosecuted for dangerous driving.”

But then, inevitably, there’s a tar-brush wielding naysayer, Hswet, who claims: “Cyclists can be every bit as aggressive, ignorant and disregarding of pedestrians as they consider motorists are to them.

“A significant proportion seem to think that they have greater rights than both other groups and responsibility to neither.

“Just for the record! When cycling, you are on a vehicle: pedestrians have right of way. While you're at it, get some insurance!”

While this may be intended as a taunt, in some countries, Germany for example, citizens normally take out third party liability insurance to cover for any day-to-day accidents outside of the home which could cause them to be sued.

But another cycling commenter is probably typical of most cyclists’ experience of what goes on around them out on the roads.

“Let's face it,” says Bikerbiker, “there are nutters on all modes of transport and all should be penalised accordingly.

“I am a keen cyclist, but I have seen reckless cycling habits from individuals and organised groups. A common appreciation and awareness for safety and other users is required and a system to enforce it.”

That’s a view that most of us would probably agree with, yet while it’s clear that cycling is moving up the media, political and general public’s agenda it appears that the interest is often reactive rather than measured and forward-looking.

The issues of cycling infrastructure, cycling rules and their enforcement have not yet reached a level of public interest which will allow all three to be considered holistically and at a national level.

And as our near neighbours the Dutch amply demonstrate,  surely, that has got to be the way forward.
 

24 comments

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Timbo13 [264 posts] 5 years ago
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28 (and counting) pages of comments, mostly saying "I am a [cyclist/pedestrian/motorist](delete as applicable). I [ride/walk/drive] safely but none of the other types of road user do. Bah!"

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timlennon [210 posts] 5 years ago
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We should ask one of the guys from 'speakyourebranes' (http://ifyoulikeitsomuchwhydontyougolivethere.com/) to do a comment audit for us. Otherwise it's just navel gazing by one group or another.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 5 years ago
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Wasn't the death mentioned the case that was (surprise suprise) totally misrepresented by almost the entire media at the time?

If memory serves me most reports failed to point out that according to the judge and police the collision happened on the road (not the pavement as claimed by the family), the girl had drunk a few cans of stella, was in a group of teenagers (more normally referred to by tabloids as a 'gang') and the cyclist was the only one to stick around and attempt to administer first aid while waiting for the ambulance?

The death was tragic but this wasn't a case of a crazed cyclist deliberately and cowardly mowing down a child on the pavement as most seem to have been depict it. And now a totally unnecessary use of parliamentary time will be taken up and relations between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists will get even worse.

Is there any way of getting a transcript of the judges summing up on here as it would be good to put on the bbc's site?

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thereverent [432 posts] 5 years ago
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It's depressing reading some of those comments on the BBC site. Almost as bad a Radio 5 live phone in.

I don't know what makes some people think of cyclists as one unified group. Why do people who know I cycle feel they need to tell me every time they see someone riding a bike badly or illegally.
I also drive, but they don;t feel they need to tell me about every bad driver they see.

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thereverent [432 posts] 5 years ago
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@TheHatter
I've had a look for the judgement online but can't a quoted version.
However on the BBC site at the time was:
"Howard was cycling on the road when he approached the group but the court heard conflicting evidence about whether he mounted the kerb at any point during the incident."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/7496370.stm

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TheHatter [770 posts] 5 years ago
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@thereverent thanks for that - I'm sure one of the broadsheets did a follow up a few weeks after the judgement and gave one of the only balance reports that actually quoted the judge a lot rather than just the parents.

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giff77 [1258 posts] 5 years ago
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here is a link to a blog with some legal angle on the whole thing, some pretty good comments as well.

http://ukcyclerules.wordpress.com/

the writer also has other blogs regarding laws that cyclists are obliged to follow and what the 'punishment' is. Some out there may already follow this particular blog anyway!

Andrea Leadsom may be wanting to create a level playing field in regards to the 'death by dangerous...' bill The problem is; the punishment of the cyclist in unfortunate cases as this far outweighs that which the motorist incurs when they take the life of another road user be they pedestrian, cyclist, horse rider or motorist!

More effort should be taken to ensure that motorists do not receive a cursory fine, a few points and a couple of hours community service when they take somebodies life!

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slow-cyclo [72 posts] 5 years ago
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Have you seen that BBC comment stream, it's a bit like being back in the playground with all the kids standing round going FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT
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matt the mounta... [1 post] 5 years ago
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I hope that they start making pedestrians pay fines for jay walking, stepping out from buses and walking in cycling lanes. Fairs fair.

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Simon E [2893 posts] 5 years ago
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thereverent wrote:

I don't know what makes some people think of cyclists as one unified group.

I don't either but cyclists are definitely considered by some drivers to be an out group. Them, not us.

It appears to be an easy view to take on when you are forced to brake and wait behind a slow-moving bicycle for 15 seconds, though oddly this does not apply when it's a tractor or grass-cutter doing the same speed.

I'd like to blame so-called influential journalists (Clarkson, Parris, the fat chef etc) but I think there more to it than that. It's the aggression, the selfishness and arrogance about who 'belongs' on the road. Where has that come from?

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jonusher [20 posts] 5 years ago
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I wrote a blog post a while back about appropriate speeds for different situations, in particular dealing with the Bristol Bath Railway Path - http://tinyurl.com/39dgy8z and whilst it doesn't attempt to broach the subject of 'death by dangerous' anything, it does attempt to convey the fact that at the end of the day we're all just people trying to get about - and that we might as well do it in the most harmonious way possible. . .

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pward [88 posts] 5 years ago
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Re "It's the aggression, the selfishness and arrogance about who 'belongs' on the road. Where has that come from?" posted above by Simon E.

Can I offer a (possibly over simplistic) contributory factor of 'congestion' leading to high levels of transport frustration, decreased tolerance & ultimately poor behaviours ? Sadly the one bad experience taking a nominal ten good ones to restore the balance rule appears to apply, so the argument easily polarises into a them and us slanging match. In a nutshell, two mismatched user groups are competing for the same resource, road space. We need to rub along to make it work, but blimey, it's hard sometimes!

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handlebarcam [844 posts] 5 years ago
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Simon E wrote:

I'd like to blame so-called influential journalists (Clarkson, Parris, the fat chef etc) but I think there more to it than that. It's the aggression, the selfishness and arrogance about who 'belongs' on the road. Where has that come from?

Overcompensation. Especially in the case of P.J. O'Rourke, whose two "satirical" pieces on cyclists, one recently and one back in the 80s certainly inspired the likes of Parris (whose shtick is so similar he is verging on copyright infringement) and Clarkson, who are in turn aped by the likes of James Martin. Like you, I'm not saying they are the reason for drivers' bad attitudes to cyclists, but it is illustrative how memes about cyclists being dangerous or not paying for the roads spread in such a small group as the international community of celebrity right-wing twerps, from one preening clown to another, even across the wide expanse of the Atlantic ocean.

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JC [158 posts] 5 years ago
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 37 Can we talk about rear derailleur’s instead?
Basically there poor drivers, poor cyclists, poor dog walkers, poor skateboarders, poor walkers, poor buggy pushers, need I go on?
If everyone spent a bit more time being considerate, rather than blaming everyone else then I don’t think we would have too many problems
But that may require a evolutionary reverse - or a good dose of Christianity

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simonaspinall [10 posts] 5 years ago
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...or Jeremy Clarkson's severed head on a plate

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Simon E [2893 posts] 5 years ago
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JC wrote:

If everyone spent a bit more time being considerate, rather than blaming everyone else then I don’t think we would have too many problems
But that may require a evolutionary reverse - or a good dose of Christianity

I'm perfectly considerate, the blame lies with those who deliberately risk lives. Or should I just thank them for running me off the road?

Religion definitely isn't the answer!

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dave atkinson [6273 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

Religion definitely isn't the answer!

what, the cyclists vs motorists argument wasn't divisive enough?  4

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Nevis the cat [28 posts] 5 years ago
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I have posting as Nevis on the Daily Maul website and there are some really really depressing comments on it.

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Simon E [2893 posts] 5 years ago
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Nevis the cat wrote:

I have posting as Nevis on the Daily Maul website and there are some really really depressing comments on it.

What do you expect? Look at the quality of the columnists they employ! If you scrape the bottom of a reactionary barrel you probably won't get the finest flavour.

Even the Grauniad's articles attract vitriolic comments so the Daily Wail is likely to be far worse. I think it's best to avoid such websites in the first place, you're fighting a losing battle. I suggest you put your time into something more positive.

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SammyG [276 posts] 5 years ago
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Hi guys first post on here  16

I only occasionally have problems on the road with motorists most of the time its all good. I dont agree that the guy who ran over the girl should have got away with it as if he was in a car it would have dedser been a crime!

Regarding those BBC posts there are some abso beauts on there! One guy insists that bikes are less "green" because of the "windy" traffic behind them. Lollersnakes!  4

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davebinks [152 posts] 5 years ago
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I can't really see the problem.

There will be one POSSIBLE prosecution every 3 years because that is the rate of deaths caused by cyclists.

Given the prosecution rate for death by driving a motor vehicle, it will be one prosecution every 12 years.

And a prosecution is not the same as a guilty verdict.

This won't go anywhere - don't get wound up about it.

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barogerl [25 posts] 5 years ago
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:evil
All this controversy about dangerous cycling brings to mind the recent action in Woking, where the council rescinded a previous decision and decided to ban cycling in the town centre.
Of coure this won't affect the idiot minority who ride dangerously, as they will just ignore the ban, whilst the considerate cyclist, of which I hope I am one will face the dangers of heavy traffic.
In passing I wonder how many riders out there don't realise that they are not only in charge of a vehicle, buut that it is a silent one, which means when passing pedestrians one should give a warning.

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guidob [56 posts] 5 years ago
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I have been in Toronto now for 12 months, apart from being unable to cycle for three months because you have to hibernate through the winter the cycling is a joy, cars are much more considerate of bikes and pedestrians.
In three months last summer I had one 'near miss' of the type I had daily while commuting in London, I have never been beeped at or had anyone swear at me, again daily occurrences in London... Even though the Mayor here believes cycling is evil the network of cycle paths around the city is incredible.

I dread heading back home to be abused and maimed by cars travelling at half the speed but twice the malice of London commuters

Oh and the press here doesn't hate on cyclists at all Mayor John Ford is an isolated case!

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Bev [52 posts] 5 years ago
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As I sit here nursing a broken neck caused by a driver not stopping at th give way on a T junction and thereby pulling out in front of me whilst I was travelling at 20 mph you would think I could, would and should 'hate' all the ambivalent drivers out there BUT..

When I am not on a bike I am in a car and whilst I am very cycle aware and drive with due consideration of a cyclists needs I find myself disheartened by all the cyclists without helmets or lights, or wearing flip flops or riding on the pavement or weaving in and out of standing traffic etc.

As stated earlier there are bad versions of all transport 'drivers' and we just need a little tolerance and curtesy if we are to get along.

In reply to the starting arguement about shoudl a dangerous cycling law be passed I say that in the same way that it is against the law for cars to 'squish' cyclists it should be equally against the law for cyclists to 'squish' pedestrians.