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Cyclists without insurance and riders using iPods under attack - as are those using helmet cams

In an article that national cyclists’ organisation the CTC has described as “unbelievably ignorant and grotesque,” the head of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in Scotland says cyclists should carry insurance and maintains that those using iPods and similar devices when cycling should be charged with an offence of “cycling without due care, etc.”

Phil Flanders, the RHA’s Scottish Director, also warns lorry drivers that police are acting upon helmet camera footage provided by cyclists, should a driver be “unfortunate to upset them on the roads.” The fact that police will only do so when they suspect the driver has committed an offence is not acknowledged, however.

Writing in issue 65 of transport industry magazine FACTS, ” Mr Flanders unleashes a broadside against bike riders that, coming from such a senior figure within the haulage industry, makes for depressing reading.

In his article, Mr Flanders displays some of the entrenched attitudes against bike riders that cycling campaigners and politicians in London and elsewhere are up against in trying to improve the safety of cyclists around lorries following a string of recent fatalities.

It’s a sad but inescapable fact that lorries are responsible for a disproportionate number of cycling fatalities – the CTC says HGVs make up 5 per cent of traffic, but are responsible for 19 per cent of the deaths of cyclists on Britain’s roads.

Indeed, Mr Flanders begins his piece by acknowledging, “There have been a spate of accidents involving cyclists and lorries recently,” but adds, “as usual the lorry is the big bad bogeyman.

“It reminded me of an article I read last year in New Zealand where they have a similar problem,” he continues.

The RHA director goes on to cite large parts of that article, headed Cyclists and Cars are a Fatal Mix and emphatically anti-cyclist in tone, which originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald in November 2010 and was written by the newspaper’s motoring correspondent, Eric Thompson.

“A public road with motor vehicles is no place for a cyclist, no matter how they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car. A cyclist will always come off second best in an accident with a motor vehicle,” wrote Mr Thompson.

“No matter whose fault it is, in any type of motor versus pushbike altercation it’s not going to take a rocket scientist to work out who’s going to end up in the back of an ambulance,” he added.

His article went on to set out a number of legal requirements that he believed bicycles and their riders should be subject to, “as other vehicles are required by law.”

Those included the fitting of rear-view mirrors, indicators, riding in single file unless overtaking, having front light on at all times [as he says other two-wheeled vehicles in New Zealand have to do, riders to pass a “road-license test,” and bikes to be registered and subject to “road tax.”

Since all those points in the New Zealand Herald article are repeated, verbatim, by Mr Flanders, without comment or qualification, it’s reasonable to assume that he’s in agreement with them.

Mr Flanders, however, does have some suggestions of his own.

“I would go further and add that all must have adequate insurance for any accidents they cause and maybe even liability insurance for those who knock people down,” he writes, although he seems to present as two different types of insurance what is essentially one and the same thing – third party liability cover, which many cyclists, such as CTC members, already carry.

“Those cyclists, and there are many, who play their iPods or other types of mobile music should also be charged for committing an offence of cycling without due care etc etc as they have no chance of hearing any vehicle approaching and are totally unaware of what is going on around them,” he adds.

Now, many cyclists agree that you shouldn’t listen to music while you ride, not least world champion Mark Cavendish, who last month said, “Don’t cycle with an iPod in, it’s dangerous!”

At present, it’s entirely legal to ride a bicycle while listening to music, just as it is legal for a lorry driver to listen to it in their cab. Of course, many riders choose not to do so on the grounds that they want to be as aware as they can of everything going on around them.

Finally, Mr Flanders warns lorry drivers: “Some [cyclists] have started to fit small video cameras to their helmets. If you are unfortunate to upset them on the roads they will report you to the authorities and will have evidence of whatever it was that you did. There are cases of this already where the police have taken action!”

That comment, presumably, isn’t aimed at those among the RHA’s membership who drive within the law and therefore have nothing to fear from the police.

In response to Mr Flanders’ comments, a spokeman for the CTC told road.cc: “This is an unbelievably ignorant and grotesque statement.

“The only accurate thing he says is that some cyclists are now recording illegal behaviour by lorry drivers using helmet cameras - implying that the incessant illegal behaviour by his members might, shock horror, actually lead to prosecution.

“We already warn cyclists to stay away from heavy vehicles - knowing that idiots like this could be behind the wheel is truly worrying."

Officially, the RHA highlights that cyclists need "to be careful around trucks," but it also states that cyclists need to be better educated about how lorries execute manoeuvres at junctions in particular. It expresses concerns about safety equipment such as sensors being the answer to improving the safety of bike riders where HGVs are concerned, and points out that "RHA Training includes cyclist awareness in its driver refresher courses."

In response to Mr Flanders' comments, the RHA said: "The article you refer to is part of a regular column and is a personal report of views from around the world on this important subject, including views from a senior safety engineer at the world's largest commercial
vehicle manufacturer. To call the article "ignorant and grotesque" does nothing to contribute to sensible debate on what is an important subject.

"The RHA is actively exploring ways to achieve greater safety of cyclists around HGVs and other freight vehicles, particularly with Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police. A longer RHA comment on this important subject, dated June 30 2011, is on our website."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

66 comments

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the_mikey [158 posts] 4 years ago
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This is too depressing. how many more cyclists need to die? How many HGV drivers have been crushed to death under the wheels of a bicycle?

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 4 years ago
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Sadly comment is free - and there will always be total spanners like Mr Flanders around who would rather look to divert blame than accept any possibility they should set their own house in order.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 4 years ago
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There are a couple of things i agree with - Listening to music can be dangerous and until its illegal i'll continue you use it with one earphone in

The other part being "cyclists need to be better educated about how lorries execute manoeuvres at junctions in particular" I fully support that statement, I've been following something called "silly cyclists" on youtube for a while http://www.youtube.com/user/sillycyclists and its all video's taken from camera's used by cyclist's to highlight how cyclists can be in the wrong and so stupid sometimes

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 4 years ago
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Doh! He's like Ned Flanders'nasty brother

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 4 years ago
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After going to the silly cyclists to get the link

One of the first video's that came up was this

http://youtu.be/Y5tp0H67KPo

Thats the kind of thing that SOME cyclists need to be taught about  4

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A V Lowe [573 posts] 4 years ago
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Too comment is unfortunately to feed the fool. Perhaps he might reflect that not only do HGV's kill other road users (pedestrians and drivers (and passengers - sometimes by the car-load)), but a particular group of HGV's are the worst of the worst - namely construction site vehicles working on local drivers' rules. This detail can be further highlighted by the fact that the same companies, and even the same drivers and vehicles are involved in serious crashes, and a review of the link between driving and other offences and drivers involved in crashes shows HGV and van drivers well ahead of the general driving population in having such links.

Perhaps Mr Flanders would like a listing of the HGV-cycle crashes with causal factors - like defective vision, drunk and using mobile phone, etc and related detail such as third time this vehicle has killed or seriously injured a cyclist (actual case). Now if he can get that sorted out his critique on cyclists might have some credibility.

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giff77 [1232 posts] 4 years ago
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Yeah, I would agree with some comments - not listening to music, awareness of heavy vehicles. The rest - total mince!! Mr Flanders seems to be unaware that the police can charge a cyclist if they believe they are cycling in a manner that is dangerous to themselves and others. On an aside I wonder what Mr Flanders has to say on the issue of lorries consistantly breaking the speed limit...

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mrhallorann [16 posts] 4 years ago
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My word. Just *how* uninformed is this man?? Not only does he prat on about 'road tax' and how he thinks cyclists should have to pay it, but he then goes on to admit that we should get a reduction for low emissions!! So presumably that means zero emission equals zero road tax. Er, that's where we are now, Mr Flanders.

And have you read the rest of the article where he blethers on -completely ill-informed- about volcanic eruptions cancelling out humanity's efforts to reduce our CO2 emissions? By his own admissions, he's not even bothered to validate his 'research' (why would he, it so neatly suits his agenda) but if he tried, he'd be looking a while, because it's utter nonsense. Volcanic eruptions are *natural* and taken care of by the carbon cycle. Everything we add overbalances the cycle. Duh.

Grade A moron. Unfortunately, someone gave him a lectern, a microphone and a magazine :\

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hairyairey [297 posts] 4 years ago
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All I can say is Beeching has a lot to answer for (because if it weren't for him a lot more freight would be going by rail now)! Once the Gotthard Base Tunnel is complete no freight will cross Switzerland by road. But I digress.

Getting back to the point, it isn't just cyclists that don't know about trucks and corners. Car drivers are just as ignorant of how much space they need, there are plenty of accidents (and fatalities) where cars are crushed by lorries.

The only good thing about this story is that it shows just how ridiculous his arguments are. Now if he had suggested that trucks counter-strike with their own cameras to see the idiocy of some cyclists, he would have had a good point.

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SusieC [4 posts] 4 years ago
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I agree with the fact that we shouldn't be sharing the road with motor vehicles, we should have safe cycle lanes. A 12yr old boy came to visit us on his bike, he cycled on the road! he told us that only children up to the age of 10 can cycle on the pavement - it's absolutely disgusting that we don't have safe cycle lanes as they do in the Netherlands, Denmark etc. Children battling with manic drivers in HGVs.  102

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paulfg42 [386 posts] 4 years ago
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“There have been a spate of accidents involving cyclists and lorries recently,” but adds, “as usual the lorry is the big bad bogeyman."

What a moron. Poor lorry drivers made to feel bad for killing an inconsiderate cyclist.

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CraigTheBiker [11 posts] 4 years ago
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In my view it's not so much what he says, it's the way that he says it that's the problem. Comments like

no matter how much they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car

are clearly meant to incite a reaction rather than stimulate any sort of reasoned debate.

But, I have to admit that I have some sympathy with some of the comments that he makes (not all, but some!). For example, only yesterday I posted an article on my own blog about whether or not I should get myself some liability insurance. I'm conducting a poll on my blog if anyone wants to participate!

I also see, virtually on a daily basis, cyclists doing stupid things and putting themselves, and others, in danger. I also see car/bus/taxi/lorry drivers doing dangerous things on a regular basis as well.

So, neither side in this argument is entirely without fault. But this guy's attitude stinks!

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Simon_MacMichael [2449 posts] 4 years ago
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Just to clarify on a couple of the comments above, the reference to 'road tax' was from the NZ Herald article that he cited (and unusually, in NZ revenue raised from motorists does in fact specifically go to help pay for the roads), as were the bits about emissions, and cyclists wanting to share the road.

Mr Flanders didn't make it entirely clear in his article which bits were his opinion and which were from the NZ Herald article, so we went back to the source and did it for him in ours.

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farrell [1950 posts] 4 years ago
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Before anyone goes completely mental, according to this web page: http://www.nlphighland.co.uk/businessnlp.asp Phil Flanders of the RHA would love to talk to you...

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OldRidgeback [2593 posts] 4 years ago
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I'll go and check out his article and will then respond to him by letter. Given my job I'm in a position to put him straight on any points he makes that are factually incorrect. The RHA is in many respects a forward thinking organisation. I suspect that a few words from people with influence may well see this spanner forced to retract his words or resign.

Ok, so I've read the piece now. The RHA will be getting a communication from me. I'll let ya'll know the response.

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Ush [669 posts] 4 years ago
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Quote:

“A public road with motor vehicles is no place for a cyclist, no matter how they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car. A cyclist will always come off second best in an accident with a motor vehicle,” wrote Mr Thompson.

Isn't this something we hear all the time from cycling advocates? Mr.Thompson is reflecting back cycling-fear as promulgated by people that presume to speak for all cyclists.

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jarderich [92 posts] 4 years ago
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"The RHA is actively exploring ways to achieve greater safety of cyclists around HGVs and other freight vehicles, particularly with Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police. A longer RHA comment on this important subject, dated June 30 2011, is on our website."

Shame it's a member's only page and I can't get to read it.

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tommy2p [88 posts] 4 years ago
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Mr Slanders, oh! sorry! Mr Flanders, if there were such thing as "Road Tax" what would it be based upon? vehicle weight, or emissions? A bicycle is neither heavy enough to cause damage to road surfaces or polluting to the environment.

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Shugg McGraw [24 posts] 4 years ago
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p.flanders [at] rha.uk.net

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Simon_MacMichael [2449 posts] 4 years ago
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jarderich wrote:

Shame it's a member's only page and I can't get to read it.

Sorry about that - I've changed it to the link to the same document that we already had in the story, that should let you in.

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dreamlx10 [153 posts] 4 years ago
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Call Phil on xxxxx xxxxxx

Edited, see comment by Nick below

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nick_rearden [436 posts] 4 years ago
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dreamlx10 wrote:

Call Phil on xxxxx xxxxxx

Hi dream, I've taken a note of the number which I'll pass to Simon for the morning but in the meantime I hope you don't mind that I've taken Mr Flanders' mobile number off a public forum out of respect for his privacy.

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a.jumper [846 posts] 4 years ago
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SusieC wrote:

I agree with the fact that we shouldn't be sharing the road with motor vehicles, we should have safe cycle lanes. A 12yr old boy came to visit us on his bike, he cycled on the road!

Yes and he lived. I don't see a problem with riding on the road, as I did from age 8 or so. Most cycle tracks are awful and I'd prefer a wider road instead. However, a few more like Mr Flanders and I may change my mind!

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GoldfishPete [16 posts] 4 years ago
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Some of the points that the writer from the RHA raises do have credence. Why not have a test that all road using cyclists have to pass before they can ride on the road? It would make the riders more aware of what they "should" be doing. You don't pass it, you can ride your bike...simples!
Why not tax?..pass your test you can apply for a tax disc - £10.00 - ride like you don't belong on the road, tax disc cancelled and you have to retake the test. If instead of bicycles we were talking "cars" or "motorbikes" there'd be no complaints, but because we're talking bicycles there's outrage.....why?
To be really controversial I think that this should also apply to horse riders who want to use the road...no test, no road use!

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giff77 [1232 posts] 4 years ago
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@ goldfish - I am going to assume that you are being ironic or are you playing devils advocate?? All these suggestions of cyclists doing tests, taking out insurance, paying VED ad nauseam are all well and good. The main issue is one that is never addressed by lobbyists - that of the behaviour and shit poor driving standards in this country. Until that happens our roads will never be safe and the media and lobbyists will continue to take ground by giving the impression that cycling is dangerous - helmets ,hi vis clothing, insurance, tests.

I am fed up seeing drivers treating vulnerable road users with total and utter contempt and believing that they own the road because the pay what they believe is road tax. At least the RHA is making inroads by teaching their members cycle awareness.

Oh and there is training provided for cyclists. It's called Bikeabilty, formally cycling proficiency. I still have my badge  4

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elstado [17 posts] 4 years ago
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There were some good point made.

Cycling with headphones/earbuds etc is really too dangerous for urban riding. But it shouldn't be made illegal outright.

Cyclists should have insurance, but this shouldn't be mandatory. It should be made cheap and widely available though (does a pedestrian need insurance in case they cause an accident resulting in injury or damages?).

There should be more education and training programs for cyclists, but like the insurance it should be optional, cheap, accessible for all to participate.

Lights on during the day, again is a solid suggestion, I do it myself! However should this be mandatory? No I don't think so, it should be encouraged though in the same way it is encouraged here in Aus for all vehicles "headlights save lives".

Etc.

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bassjunkieuk [32 posts] 4 years ago
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@Goldfish - But then we are left in the same situation we currently have with motor vehicles. How many cars are on the roads without either the vehicle or the person behind the wheel passing the appropriate tests? Laws are only as good as the enforcement at the end of the day.

Also to implement a system would surely require some sort of registration scheme for cyclists, which I think has been covered before and both the costs to setup and the ongoing running costs FAR outweigh any money the scheme could hope to make!

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bikeylikey [204 posts] 4 years ago
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A public road with motor vehicles is no place for a cyclist, no matter how they bleat about having every right to be in the same place as a car.

I think you must have got this the wrong way around. Shouldn't it be:
'A public road is no place for a motor vehicle, no matter how (much)drivers bleat on about having every right to be in the same place as a bicycle'?

As usual, the roads are assumed to belong to drivers, even that motor vehicles have the moral high ground. It's a class system, with cyclists at the bottom. The only justification for this idiocy can be money - cars are expensive, therefore must be superior to bicycles, and roads are paid for by motorists. The first is dumb and primitive, the second is not true - once again, it needs affirming that roads are paid for by taxpayers, including cyclists. Roads are not paid for by motorists. In addition, cyclists either do not use, or do not need, most of the features of roads which cost so much money - motorways, complex junctions, the width or quality of road surface etc etc.

Car drivers, and, especially lorry drivers are surrounded by tons of metal, heavy and secure compared to a bike, and are propelled by powerful engines. They seem to forget that a person on a bike is small and vulnerable and has little power in comparison. Yet they rage at and blame the cyclist for being dangerous.

'Ignorant and grotesque' seems like a pretty accurate assessment of this article to me, although I would maybe add arrogant, supercilious, blind, and one sided. And fuelling aggression. I used to be a lorry driver myself - most are not anti-cyclist in my experience, but articles like this might make more of them more hostile to cyclists.

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Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
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What an awful man. I've been having a look at cameras for a while. If their use annoys that cretin I've just been given an additional reason to buy one in the sales.

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Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
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elstado wrote:

There were some good point made.

Cycling with headphones/earbuds etc is really too dangerous for urban riding. But it shouldn't be made illegal outright.

Cyclists should have insurance, but this shouldn't be mandatory. It should be made cheap and widely available though (does a pedestrian need insurance in case they cause an accident resulting in injury or damages?).

There should be more education and training programs for cyclists, but like the insurance it should be optional, cheap, accessible for all to participate.

Lights on during the day, again is a solid suggestion, I do it myself! However should this be mandatory? No I don't think so, it should be encouraged though in the same way it is encouraged here in Aus for all vehicles "headlights save lives".

Etc.

So people get used to looking out for motor vehicle headlights and ignore cyclists? I could leave my bike lights on during the day but I don't think they'd be any use.

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