Them and Theirs

3 June 2015

It all began, as it so often does, with a couple of simple questions.


9660338948_6122e14829_o

On the back of the widely reported collision on a pavement involving a man on a bike and a young girl, BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme sent out the following:

On today’s Call You and Yours we’re talking about cycling. Do you think it’s time to ask cyclists to take a test before they’re allowed on the the roads? Should they have insurance like everyone else?

A collective groan passed as a wave across social media. Cyclists, as a ring-fenced group. Should they have to take a test? Should they have insurance?

The call was clear: this request goes to You, the Not Cyclists, for opinions about Them, the Cyclists.

The programme came and went, after which one of the producers tweeted gleefully, “Our phone-in on cycling hit a nerve with the UK”. It would be understating things to say that not everyone shared the glee.

In order to explain why they didn’t, I’m not going to unpick the programme itself. I’m going to start by looking at what has happened in the six days since.

A week is a long time on the roads

Two days after the broadcast, May 28, was the third day of 2015 in which three people were fatally injured whilst on bicycles. At around 6:40am, an as yet unnamed woman was killed when she was struck by a van which then collided with two other vehicles. A little over an hour later, Esther Hartsilver was crushed by an HGV in Camberwell. That afternoon, April Reeves—aged just 7—was killed in front of her family in Weston-super-Mare.

On the same day, a man was left “fighting for his life” in a critical condition in a collision with a car and another—also reported as “fighting for his life”—had to have a bus lifted off of him. Two days later, a fourth fatality: a woman was killed after being struck by a car in Aston Clinton. And another man in a critical condition.

And that’s just people on pedal cycles.

Never mind Alex Weatherley who was killed when struck by a car which left the road, the three people killed on the A421 (including a schoolgirl), David Lister who was killed in a collision with a car in Lackford, Jeannette Dixon who died in Harrow, the motorcyclist who died in Pembrokeshire, John Walsh who died near Bury St Edmunds, Scott McCallum who died on the A90, the teenager who died in County Durham, the man killed and the man left in a critical condition in Harrow, the two-year-old girl killed and boy in critical condition after a car left the road, the woman killed and the several injured on the M73, the man killed on the M74, another man killed on the A90, Thomas Edwards who died on the A3400, the man who died on the M1, the man killed in Northern Ireland, Amar Atwal—aged 12—who died in West Bromwich, the man who died in Somerset when his car left the road, the moped rider killed in Leicester, the man killed in Lancashire when his car left the road, the man killed on the M5, the two people left in a critical condition after being hit by a bus in Glasgow

I know. I’ve lost you now. You’re just skim-reading, or you’ve simply jumped to this paragraph from halfway through the previous one.

But that’s the point.

Death and injury caused by the often incautious use of motor vehicles is so common, so mundane, that it doesn’t warrant even reading a whole paragraph of six days’ deaths—at least twenty-seven of them, nearly five a day—let alone a phone-in radio show.

It’s not like there’s a massive disconnect between the cyclist-hits-girl incident and this carnage, either: browse through the examples above and you’ll find numerous cases where the casualties occurred away from the carriageway (and yet another one appears as I type this), and/or where the drivers were unlicensed and/or uninsured; and you’ll find numerous cases where it was young children who were killed or seriously injured. Indeed, all of these factors can be found among the cycling fatalities alone.

Likewise, in the same week, the ripples from fatal collisions that illustrate the fallacy of faith in our licensing and insurance system roll into the shore: another cyclist killed when struck by an apparently unlicensed and uninsured driver. And then the fallacy of thinking that cars aren’t a danger on pavements is highlighted by news reports of further incidents where motor vehicles end up crossing pavements: in Bristol, and in Sussex. Remember, this is just in the last six days, and just stuff that happens to have passed before my eyes on Twitter: other than one Google search for the fatalities above, I’ve not even bothered going looking for anything. It’s a constant firehose of carnage that all highlights the same fallacy: the false assumption that licensing and insuring people fixes their behaviour.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

You and Yours glibly kicked off with the question, “should [cyclists] have to take a road test and buy insurance, just like everyone else?” Yet this well-worn phrase, “just like everyone else”, neatly overlooks an uncomfortable truth: There are a lot of people already out there, in cars and ignoring the law, who aren’t “just like everyone else”. The whole idea of “everyone else” presupposes that everyone else is law-abiding and responsible, and that the systems in place to make them so work perfectly. And—clearly and inevitably—they don’t. Laws are not simple solutions: as David Allen Green notes in the context of prohibition: “To say there should be a law against a thing is often no more than saying there should be a spell against it,” and this uncomfortable chasm between idealism and reality is applicable to all legal contexts.

So, what of this fallacy of faith? What’s the truth behind the received wisdom that drivers are licensed and insured and cyclists aren’t?

Driving by numbers

The number of uninsured drivers on the road can only be estimated, but the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, the UK industry-wide body whose role is to manage a fund to settle claims against uninsured and untraced drivers, puts the figure at around one million. (As a side note, prosecutions run at a rate of around 160,000 per year, and once you’ve got a couple more figures you can do some basic maths to work out whether buying insurance even makes sense. Spoiler: unless you’re a responsible driver who’s already racked up a decent no claims bonus, it probably doesn’t.)

The number of unlicensed drivers is also inevitably an estimation, and one that’s made less frequently. Most articles cite a supplementary memorandum to a 1999 report commissioned by the Association of British Insurers and The AA, which put the figure at around 800,000. (It includes evidence to indicate, unsurprisingly, around a 90% overlap of uninsured and unlicensed drivers.) The report, by the way, makes for interesting if unsurprising reading in terms of assessing the type of person who eschews insurance and/or the licence.

So, with some 35 million registered drivers in the UK, a little under 3% of people behind the wheel are unlicensed, uninsured, or—most probably—both. (Let’s not delve into legal drivers’ rates of compliance with road laws or we’ll be here all day.)

Whereas 100% of people on bikes are unlicensed and uninsured, right?

Wrong.

Cycling by numbers

Firstly, although there is no need to pass a test to ride a bicycle on the road (nor is there to ride a horse, nor to use a mobility scooter; yes, scooter users cause serious injuries and deaths, and the phrase “mobility menace” even comes as a slot-in minority-grouping replacement for “lycra lout” should anyone’s journalistic barrel require scraping) around 80% of cyclists hold a driving licence, meaning they’ve successfully completed the same training as 97% of drivers.

As for insurance, anyone who is a member of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, British Cycling, the London Cycling Campaign or other similar groups is covered by third party liability insurance, and indeed such policies can be purchased in their own right for £21 a year (I’ve not shopped around, but this is clearly nowhere near being “not far off [the cost of a motor policy]”, as one cyclist who called You and Yours opined it might be).

But—rather more pervasively—anyone who lives in a house is probably covered, too, as CTC advisor Dave Holladay pointed out on air. Check with your insurer if you want to be sure, but household policies include third party liability cover, and normally this applies when on a bicycle. Take the AA’s policy, for instance (the emphasis is mine):

We will insure you for all amounts which you have legal liability to pay as compensation for accidents not connected with the occupation of your building which result in: death, physical injury, disease or illness to any person other than your employees; or loss of or damage to property.

That cover is good for up to £2 million. And “You”, by the way, is defined as “the policyholder, their spouse/partner, relatives and domestic employees normally living at your home”—for most households, that’s a lot of people covered by one policy. Note that there are explicit exclusions for mechanically propelled and mechanically assisted vehicles, but a pedal cycle is neither.

Basically, if you live in an insured household: you’re almost certainly well-covered for third party liability while riding a bicycle.

So, in reality, the whole insurance question is almost completely moot. Granted, it’s not mandatory to have insurance; but there’s a fighting chance that the rate of insurance coverage for people on bicycles is—because it is so cheaply and widely provided—actually higher than it is for people in motor vehicles.

So why the fear and loathing of this supposed lack of insurance, when it may be the use of bigger, heavier and thus more dangerous vehicles that is less well covered than the use of light and relatively slow ones? Why the fear and loathing of this supposed lack of testing, when four out of five have actually passed a test?

The answer, as it happens, brings us back where we started.

Points of view

Even the long list of death and trauma caused by motor vehicle collisions over the past six days doesn’t diminish the trauma suffered by one little girl or the distress suffered by her family. Nor does it represent any justification for suggesting that it should never be discussed. Two wrongs (twenty-seven or more deaths and one injured child) do not make a right.

What it does mean, however, is that context is hugely important, as Chris Boardman was keen to point out on air. It’s vital if a constructive discussion, rather than the mere echoing of received opinion, is to be had.

Unfortunately what surfaced on air—inevitably, given the bait cast by the producers—was largely a trail of anecdotes. One caller, Barry, was given two and a half minutes of national airtime to tell a tale of bicycles that defied his understanding, with “no seats, no bell, nothing, and they’re in gangs, and they just jump out on you”, with this forming the basis for his demands for swathes of additional legislation. (I did enjoy Barry’s contribution, though; largely because his voice was rather Dudley Moore-ish, which conjured up a mental image of these terrifying biker gangs lurking somewhere inside Jayne Mansfield. Google “Derek and Clive” if you’re stumped, and brace yourself for some robust language.)

And this summed things up; it summed up the whole premise of the programme: that everyone has a tale to tell, their view of the world, their perspective; and that a quick bit of legislation will solve all the problems with all of those tales. And, frankly, that’s true of much media coverage of cycling.

Never mind that our cities are choking in pollution. Never mind that obesity is the NHS’s greatest expenditure and fast becoming the main cause of cancer. Never mind that tens of thousands are killed and seriously injured every year from motor vehicle collisions.

We can overlook all of these things, we can maintain our tight grip on our steering wheels, because a video of a small child being injured is, quite understandably, upsetting viewing.

We can overlook all of these things because we can use the phrase “just like everyone else” and pretend that “everyone else” is homogeneous and that laws are infallible.

We can overlook them because radio shows like You and Yours will happily read out the opinions of people who are factually wrong.

We can overlook them because anecdotes make “better” entertainment—certainly more effective clickbait—than holistic, circumspect consideration.

We can overlook them because they’re all so bloody normal. Five deaths a day since the last programme: that’s normal. The child dragged along the pavement is abnormal. In no small part it’s this abnormality that makes it newsworthy: the fascination lies not so much with the trees, forsaking all sight of the wood, but with a single curious twig.

But perhaps most of all, we can overlook them because of the status quo: the fact that cycling isn’t “You and Yours”, it’s Them and Theirs.

Just like the holders of the majority of speed and mass in a collision, the holders of the majority of opinion—and it is mere opinion, often the fuel of assault—are the people who don’t cycle. That’s what gives rise to the normalisation, to the lack of circumspection, to the factually wrong opinions, to the anecdotes, to the faith in law, and to the rose-tinted view of “everyone else”.

It was easy for You and Yours to come across as superficially balanced: the anecdotes of grumbling lorry drivers are apparently offset by the calm reason of Chris Boardman. But it’s a sham balance: the bubble in which the discussion takes place is already towards an outer edge of the bigger picture, focusing on one group’s adherence to law within the existing system instead of the nuanced nurturing of a socially beneficial system of mobility that focuses on people rather than one specific vehicle type.

The regulatory differences between cycling and driving are obvious; less so are the more productive questions: Why are so few people aware that almost all “cyclists” are insured? (And is this a factor in why some flee the scene of a collision?) What is the health benefit to the country of reducing pollution and increasing activity, and how much money does this save the NHS? How is it that Paris and Dublin exist as fully functioning cities with strict bans on many HGV movements? Why are so many cycle paths built so badly that no-one wants to use them? Why is regulation of the HGV industry failing to prevent wilfully negligent operators from escaping punishment and simply starting a new company? How can we address the number of uninsured drivers? Should we even nationalise driver insurance? Why are driving bans so ineffective? How can we prevent people taking to pavements on their bikes in order to flee traffic danger? Why do we lack the legal tools to deal with negligence? Why do we not choose to enable less dangerous modes of transport like cycling so that the worst drivers can actually be removed from their 70mph tons of metal? Why does the UK repeatedly try and fail to reinvent the wheel when the Netherlands offers a readymade set of templates for safe and appealing road design? Why do we remain resolutely focused on safety equipment for victims when the Netherlands again proves that it’s totally the wrong way to tackle the problem?

The list is endless.

So many questions, so little opportunity to simply offload the responsibility onto someone else, onto them. The insurance question is nice and comfortable and keeps the audience agitated, even though everyone’s apparently unaware that it’s already been answered. It’s something to have a bit of a moan about, and that’s the way we like it.

We’re going to have to endure more of these myopic, insular and divisive discussions before the issues of freedom of transport become Us and Ours.

Comments

  1. Lyn 3 June 2015 12:03pm #

    Just excellent. Thank you. Share. Share. Share.

  2. iankb 3 June 2015 12:10pm #

    Well said.

  3. monveloetmoi 3 June 2015 12:21pm #

    I’m so impressed you managed to survive listening to a whole episode of ‘You & Yours’! But the result of your enthusiastic listening is an excellent blog post. Perhaps you should send it to the BBC to see if they have a response? Well done!

  4. geoffrone 3 June 2015 3:36pm #

    Thanks Bez, shared and tweeted! Great blog.

    • paulc 3 June 2015 7:15pm #

      Hmmm… though only 16 weeks behind bars and an extra 5 years disqualification… wonder how soon he’ll be back behind the wheel again…

  5. cycling addict 4 June 2015 2:09am #

    One slight “correction” I’d make is to get rid of the “normally” and “probably” when discussing whether cyclists have 3rd party cover under household insurance. When I last checked I couldn’t find a single policy which didn’t provide this cover, and every policy had almost exactly the same wording in the terms covering this bit. It appears to be an industry standard thing.

    Otherwise another great article.

    • fatbarman 30 December 2015 4:44pm #

      Best to leave it unchanged – our household (like several I know on low wages) survives without household insurance – this is just another cost luxury we have to do without. Our household therefore has 5 uninsured cyclists. Assumptions are misleading…

      • livinginabox 1 January 2016 10:54am #

        The trouble is that humans are very bad at assessing risk. There is a strong tendency to assign much greater weight to the dramatic and to under estimate everyday familiar risks. Travelling, beside, along and crossing roads are far more dangerous than risks such as terrorism (at least in Europe). Driving is much more dangerous than flying in a scheduled flight in a fixed-wing aircraft.

        As a cyclist I’ve hit one pedestrian in decades of cycling. I was cycling in the road and so far as I know the pedestrian wasn’t injured, except for perhaps minor bruising. I wasn’t insured either. But and it’s a big ‘but’, if it had been my fault and she had been injured, (I believe neither to be the case), with people being so litigious nowadays, I could have led to an expensive time in court.

        I suppose I’d better tell you my account of the incident:

        Many years ago (this was around 1980), I was cycling Northwards in Kingston-upon-Thames Market-place [when motorised through-traffic was still permitted] and I hit a pedestrian.
        It was a bright sunny day and dry. It being my Hercules, I guess that I was likely travelling initially at eight to perhaps ten miles per hour – give or take (IIRC, speedometers for bicycles were rare and expensive).

        She was one of a number of pedestrians on the pavement when I saw her and I was on the road [where I normally cycle]. She changed direction towards the kerb, didn’t look, stepped into the road and walked without looking across the road (and my direction of travel). I felt no need to ring my bell, I simply slowed to let her cross, and if she had continued on her way or stopped where she was, nothing would have happened, but she didn’t.

        What next happened caught me completely by surprise. She emerged from her little world, became aware of my presence and to my amazement she leaped backwards into my path. By now I was too close to stop, but even so, I had almost stopped when I collided with her.

        I consider it to be her fault entirely.

        We never exchanged words, so it seems likely that she realised it was her fault. Those were times when people were not so litigious.

        What could I have done differently? With the benefit of hindsight, I could have rung my bell. But it’s unclear whether that would have had any effect. I doubt anyone would reasonably have foreseen her backwards-leap.

        If she had stepped-out in-front of a car, because of the higher speed, she would never had time to cross its path, and would most probably have been killed or seriously injured. Instead, I suspect that at worst, she just got some light bruising to her leg from the front rack of my Hercules roadster.

        What did I learn? Apart from the ‘expect the unexpected’, people sometimes do the stupidest of things.

  6. Tim 4 June 2015 4:36pm #

    Dammit. I thought I’d avoided the horror of Y&Y by skipping to Mark’s piece on shoes with wheels. But now I feel like I have to listen just to hear the bit about lobsters, or something.

    Great post. I hope people like @RajeevGuptaBBC have read it, but I doubt they will.

  7. Ron Reid 4 June 2015 8:00pm #

    I really hope someone from R4 get directed to this outstanding post. They should hang their heads in shame.

  8. Slartibartfast 5 June 2015 3:05am #

    This is excellent. The central point is that a minor mistake by a motorist can easily and readily kill or maim, yet a minor mistake by a cyclists kills or maims THEM. Every other law is tested for fairness before it becomes a statute (with some notable exceptions): only Road Traffic regulations gleefully chuck sprats in the same tank as pike, without controlling the pike in any effective way.

    The less protected become collateral damage in the wilful roaring about of the more protected and empowered, with feeble punishment for the latter, it’s almost a rerun of feudalism, with knights in armour on warhorses riding through villages swinging left and right, just for a bit of sport, or to exercise their sword arms.

    Meaningful control of gleeful vehicular irresponsibility and glum, bored driverly incompetence is not to the interest of the ruling car driving types, because Jeremy Clarkson (poor Jezza – hope he finds something useful to do) as Mr. Toad is too useful an idiot to keep people fanatical about 4 (or more) wheels as a necessary social accomplishment. Heavy, expensive and complex consumer durables keep one shackled to one’s wage slavery; as crowd-sourceable, cheap and available cycling does not. In the end it’s about freedom. So, we can’t stop them doing it. Curses! Keep people in peril, scared and harassed, and they can’t revolt. Accidentally on purpose (near enough) letting people get away with vehicular homicide and GBH is plausible deniability of your RW social project, whilst one,’s handwringing is not completely, transparently ludicrous. Excellent! (in a Monty Burns, steepling-of-fingers tone of voice)

  9. pip 5 June 2015 8:56am #

    Your blog was posted on the Australian Cyclists Party Facebook Page and it’s been brilliantly received (deservedly so). Thanks for the article.

  10. Ron Reid 7 June 2015 11:28am #

    I don’t see anything wrong in You and Your posing the questions they did. Where they made their big mistake is failing to provide an objective framework in which to debate the issue.

    There is an implicit assumption in their question that cycling as an activity poses a threat to society. Well yes, almost any activity we do poses some sort of risk, the important question is against what baseline are you measuring, and how does cycling measure up to that baseline? For example, traffic incidents is the biggest cause of head injury. The second largest cause is assault. In fact the BMJ reports that in Glasgow assault beats traffic incidents into second place for under 25’s. A feature of our delightful species is that we don’t have to be on a bicycle to be a threat, we are quite good at that on two pins. Who knows, cyclists may pose less of a threat to society in general whilst we are full time occupied in trying to stop ourselves from falling over.

    If Radio 4 really wanted an objective debate, the should have invited Prof David Spiegelhalter to frame the risk. But I suspect if they had done that the absurdity of the debate would have been immediately apparent. Much easier to pit the anecdotes and prejudices of 97.7% road users against the 2.3%. Producer Rajeev Gupta’s gleeful tweet reveals that that was a far more important objective.

  11. livinginabox 7 June 2015 1:44pm #

    I sent-in a somewhat rushed attempt at revealing the flawed premise of the disingenuous and dishonest Them and Theirs programme. Unsurprisingly, because it would I believe have shown their tawdry programme for what it was, they didn’t call me.
    Thanks for the article, and thanks for showing up the programme team for their intellectual dishonesty and bias.

  12. rdrf 8 June 2015 12:57am #

    I think it’s important to show how insurance and testing are not only utterly inadequate at controlling the far greater danger of drivers compared to cyclists, but actually part of he problem. For the driving test, see my piece here http://tinyurl.com/ow4t94o and on insurance – well, it’s insuring drivers AGAINST their reponsibilties

  13. Keith Whalen 11 June 2015 3:46pm #

    Just brilliant and thanks so much for taking the time to compile this response and the facts therein. The knee-jerk reaction of none cyclists is something that contently amazes me. When the article about the little girl being hit on the path in Blackpool appeared the following venom against all cyclists on many press message boards was terrible. I’m not saying for a minute it wasn’t a terrible accident but people were declaring how they could happily kill a cyclist, run them down, etc.

    I give up on trying to appease some of these people with points similar to the ones you made (but not as elegantly), as it was just a waste of time.

    Please, please keep up the good work.

  14. Robert Beckett 16 June 2015 8:28pm #

    Hello Bez I do not know how to contact you anyway other than this . I am a follower and admirer of you posts . I wonder if you would look at a idea I had regarding cycling safety . I am no good at networking and as far as I am concerned I can take the idea no further ,I ain’t got the legs for it . Keep writing Keep riding and Keep safe
    Idea is on a facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/White-camera/1106756606008526

  15. Cambridge 19 June 2015 4:39pm #

    Well that’s a heavily biased and self-entitled article. “Some drivers aren’t insured ergo making licenses mandatory for cyclists is wrong”; “More people are killed by cars, ergo there is no need to deal with the problem of people killed by cyclists”. Questionable logic!

    By requiring licenses for cyclists, it would provide a degree of power to the justice system to deal with nuisance cyclists, much as mandatory driver licensing provides a legal framework to deal with the uninsured and/or dangerous drivers. More importantly, it would pave the way for teaching people how to ride their bikes in a safe manner.

    Perhaps a function of where I work, but on a daily basis I see dozens of cyclists performing manoeuvres which put themselves in significant amounts of danger (undertaking large vehicles through narrow gaps, bypassing red lights, pulling across lanes without indicating / checking their blind spot, ignoring lane discipline on roundabouts…). Despite the fact that I see a greater number of cars than bikes over the course of the day, I see far fewer situations where drivers put themselves / other road users in danger.

    I’m all for encouraging cycling, but it needs to be done safely. Until I see the majority of cyclists riding in a manner where I do not fear for their safety, I’m going to continue to be pro licensing.

    DOI: Emergency service response driver, ex regular cyclist (commuting and casual), have trained in emergency cycle responding, and performed this role, although no more.

    • Bez 19 June 2015 4:55pm #

      “Some drivers aren’t insured ergo making licenses mandatory for cyclists is wrong”; “More people are killed by cars, ergo there is no need to deal with the problem of people killed by cyclists”. Questionable logic!

      Indeed, which is why that logic wasn’t actually present in the article: you’re extrapolating somewhat.

      The less-than-perfect coverage of driver licensing and insurance, and the extent of people killed by the use of cars are not arguments against cyclist licensing or cyclist insurance or addressing deaths caused by the use of bicycles, and I didn’t use them as such.

      The point is that no-one ever really has those conversations. They don’t feature in the media, and people are largely oblivious of them. Insurance for cycling liabilities generates huge amounts of air time and column inches, but in actual fact the insurance coverage is highly likely to be greater than that for driving.

      Please have another read; this is about the media and the context of discussion. Discussing the issues you bring up is perfectly fine, and worth doing, but if the participants in that discussion don’t grasp the context in which it has to exist—and this is the situation that the media keenly perpetuates—then it’s counter-productive.

    • BACBikes 20 June 2015 12:28am #

      You seem to have a bit of confirmation bias going on there, matey-oh. Because you are sensitised and trained to deal with cyclists behaving badly, and the consequences thereof, suddenly they’re ALL doing it, and need to be controlled. Well, no.

      It’s a simple and specific application of Utilitarianism (DOI: philosophy minor at uni, cycle industry trainer, practitioner, event mechanic). The greatest good, for the greatest number, with the least stuffing around, I think J.S. Mill said, or summat lak that. Rego, cyclists: expensive, ineffective, easily dodged, etc. (BUT, makes andrew bolt and Ray Hadley feel good – so, there’s a win).

      Car rego: big heavy item able to kill, maim and destroy very easily when piloted by a peanut, or just average Jo/sephine having a bad day.

      Good desired: fewest possible people in casualty/morgue. So, which path is the most easily and effectively trodden? And which is an ill considered kneejerk by the controllers amongst the RW commentariat, and the easily cowed roads bureaucracy, especially when cyclists are an easily dismissed minority? Do they have helmet legislation in the Netherlands? Why is that, d’y’reckon?

      AND, d’y’reckon is there a slightly hidden favouring of one over the other, by our ex-colonial, uptight, rut-thinking powers that be? In order to, oh, I don’t know, keep the automotive wheels of commerce turning? Slagging off the cheap, effective, available, adaptable form of transport, by controlling, intimidating and accidentally-on-purpose maiming and killing of users of the one, and building $ multimillion roads for the other?

      So, which side do you sit on? Are you just using your own specialised vantage point to fearfully react and toe the auto uber alles line? I reckon you are.

    • michael 24 July 2015 1:23pm #

      I think your post provides a good example of how the effects of bias can render people unable to see what is in front of them or to reason logically.

      Sadly, helmets, whatever merits they might have, don’t provide any protection against this form of cognitive impairment.

      You see what you want to see and nothing else.

      I guess if you walked down the main road near me (a road which is unavoidable if one wants to cycle anywhere in that direction) you simply would be unable to see the boy-racers doing 70-80mph on a road where 30 mph is ‘advised’ (they get a little frowning face from the speed-readout gadget as a reproach),

      You’d also be blind to the cars habitually jumping the red lights at the junction at the end (that make it very tiresome to cross as a pedestrian, as often the whole green-man phase is stolen by them), and you’d be completely unable to spot the demolished traffic lights, smashed in road-side fences and dangerously parked vehicles I regularly see on that road.

      And if you looked at the official statistics for causes of RTAs you’d just see a blank page, I guess.

    • livinginabox 24 July 2015 3:54pm #

      All forms of active transport including cycling, aren’t as popular as society needs them to be. Whereas motoring is over-popular for many journeys that far more suited to cycling. The full impact of motoring needs to include the deaths and morbidity due to physical inactivity (caused by fear of traffic), noise and air-pollution – none of these are caused by cycling. When the full impact of the costs of motoring versus cycling are accounted-for, motoring is truly far worse. The piffling amount of harm caused by cycling is over-reported by the man bites dog effect. While the daily toll from motoring goes by largely ignored and under-reported. Bad cyclists are more irritating than harmful, whereas bad drivers often kill and injure others and then get away scot-free.

      You have yet to show that Licencing is the answer. 80% of cyclists also drive, and of the remainder, quite a few are below the legal driving age as indeed are some ‘drivers’.
      Research has shown that in collisions between adult cyclists and motor-vehicles, a significant majority were the fault of the driver – which is pretty unsurprising.

      Meanwhile the IAM has shown an alarming rate of drivers taking selfies, watching TV, taking video calls etc. Meanwhile antisocial driving is becoming increasingly widespread – extreme speeding is plaguing some villages, with the top speed of 150 mph in a 30mph zone (a stopping distance of around 350 metres).
      Given the rate of hit & runs against cyclists – presumably because the drivers are uninsured, unlicenced or both. This would strongly suggest that additional controls need to be directed towards drivers. Directing them against cycling would merely be a waste of resources/
      Your comment begs the question “ex regular cyclist (commuting and casual)” – why ex?

  16. MsBlueSky 30 December 2015 8:38am #

    Good article, Not just about the ridulousness of the You and Yours cyclist hate inciting question, but also about the overall effectiveness of insurance on the roads. So not only are many cyclists insured under household insurance, I also wonder how many cyclists have taken their driving tests and what the hell does that mean to all drivers of all vehicles today ? Just like those of motor driven vehicles, I would guess that a vast proportion of both motor drivers and cyclists do not drive as was required for their road test. This article kinda renders the Y&Y question to their listeners pointless. Why didn’t they tackle the issue with some intelligence with some thought and research of the issue rather than with an instant question thought up by someone who’d rather gain brownie points for creating an even greater gulf between members of the road community. Just another BBC let down.

Leave a Reply to Ron Reid Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *