Thursday 28 July 2016

Cyclist Licenses - the bad idea that will not go away

There are plenty of blog posts and articles with this already, so forgive me for not going into the already well-trodden details as to why this isn't a good idea. The arguments have been made and not addressed by advocates of cyclist licensing - and until there are well thought out responses there's nothing left to say on the subject. If you believe cyclists should be licensed I invite you to respond to the points raised in such articles, and when you've done so we can have a discussion - merely re-stating that you see a necessity for cyclist licensing and again not answering the argument against isn't having a discussion, its just you being an ass.

But I do want to address something here - cyclist licensing is an argument that just keeps coming back. This morning I observe that someone has set up yet another 'campaign' (although it could be, and I think it is, just be one person with an axe to grind).

Why is it that we keep seeing this? I mean, why do people set themselves up as crusaders for bike licensing without doing the slightest amount of due diligence? What is it that makes this demonstrably erroneous stance blindingly obvious to them? 

I put it to you that the guy phoning your local radio station to demand that cyclists are licensed, or whoever it is behind the new twitter feed, and anyone else making this argument, is suffering from the same delusion - it is OBVIOUS to them that cyclists should be licensed. They don't need evidence, they don't see any point in addressing the practical, cost, health, legal or safety issues involved because they've already decided that OF COURSE cyclists should be licensed. The reason they give for their argument varies (accountability to catch red light jumpers, because cyclists who break the law 'get cyclists a bad name', because there's no way of identifying cyclists, etc.) but it always comes from the same place - an assumption that licenses solve these assumed problems (they don't) and a perception of cyclists as a collective social out-group (we aren't). 

The name for a phenomenon where facts don't have to be put forward because its obvious that 'they' must be thus controlled, and there's no need to engage in the arguments put forward against a claim? The elevation of 'common sense' over study, evidence and facts? Prejudice.

Literally, it is just that. They've decided in advance, they've pre-judged the idea based upon how they perceive cyclists. They are, in the most literal sense, prejudiced against cyclists.

As such these people are unremarkable - they're all just sub-variants of Type 2, Type 4, Type 6 or even Type 8 cyclist haters, and I believe we should respond to them as such. And, just like with any other cyclist hater, we should be unsurprised when they react with contempt, disgust, hate, and a refusal to provide evidence for that which from their biased perspective is already obvious. 

My dear Cyclists4Licenses - I await your contemptuous blocking of me, merely an uppity cyclist.

Monday 18 July 2016

Cambridge News - How very DARE cyclists use the road!?

Once in a while I delve into the cesspit that is Cambridge News reporting on cycling matters. And it rarely disappoints.

Apparently they're using the road and not the cycle path, five abreast with no concern for the road, eating babies and wanking into the vicars tea. They do this to inconvenience and terrorise locals, make old people fear for their lives and force the poor pensioners to vote UKIP and protest Down With This Sort of Thing. 

Or, just maybe, on the other hand, there's no story here. The path isn't finished, its off road and quite good for a pootle or commute for the likes of me, but a fast club ride of tens of riders couldn't possibly use it like that. So on a Sunday morning, when the roads are just a little quieter, they'll quite reasonably continue using the roads.

The problem here is not that cyclists are on road. Its not even that some cyclists don't yet know that there's a growing off-road route there (which is quite good for a couple of you at a time). The problem is the ever-green assusmption that the presence of an off road cycle path must necessarily mean no more cycling on the road. It doesn't. 

Cycle routes are constructed for the convenience and safety of cyclists - where a cyclist or group of cyclists prefer to use the road for any reason then thats their choice, to be respected. I promise you, I absolutely guarantee, that no one is riding on the road to inconvenience you - why they're riding, where they're riding, is not about you. It isn't a display of disrespect and its not proving a point - its a clear statement that the facility hasn't been constructed to a standard that really facilitates all levels of cycling. Cyclists don't ride to piss you off any more than farmers take their haystacks for a drive. The world does not revolve around you, motorist. Fucking grow up already.

The bottom line is that news stories like this come from the mistaken belief that cycle facilities are to get us out of the way of motorists. One would hope, but not I'm afraid expect, Cambridge News reporters to understand this. 

Oh well. I'm not curious enough to look at the no-doubt blood bath of a comment section.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Another Victim Blaming Safety Campaign in Cambridge

Yet another terrible safety campaign from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

From the first line in the first press release, we can tell exactly where this is going:

THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership are urging road users to look out for each other after figures reveal that at least one cyclist is injured on the counties roads every day.
Yes, thats right. Cyclists are getting hurt or killed on our roads, so the cops are asking everyone to look out for each other. Equal weighting - completely ignoring the disparity in risk brought by each party to the other. We oughtn't have to re-hash the stats yet again, but we know that 70% or more of adult injuries are due to drivers - and less than 15% are attributed as solely the cyclists fault. Mutual respect is not the answer to our road safety concerns.

It gets worse though: 

Officers from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit (RPU) hope the latest Think! Cyclist campaign will encourage drivers and cyclists to look out for each other through highlighting the common ground between wheeled road users, and giving advice and tips on staying safe, visible and alert on the road.

Hang on, you're going to hilight common ground by giving us advice on visibility? But the vast bulk of cyclist injuries happen in broad daylight, and police campaigns to improve cyclist visibility in Cambridge have demonstrably delivered no reduction in cyclist injuries. Look, guys, we don't have to pull ideas for what influences cyclist safety out of our arses, we've got heaps of data on this subject. Its even been compiled for you so you don't have to go fishing for it. Telling cyclists to look out for motorists is, frankly, an insulting position to take on this topic. Its not our inattention causing injury. 

Earlier this week multiple motorists drove straight at me in front of Magdalene College, where there's a narrow section of road with priority for inbound traffic (the way I was going). They did this right in front of two Cambridgeshire Constabulary PCSO's, and on camera (my helmet cam was on). I asked said PCSO's if they'd ticket the drivers, they replied that they couldn't radomly ticket motorists - as if breaking the rules of the road is just a natural state of affairs and our Police service just can't be getting involved in nonsense like that or something. I tweeted this to our police service and they didn't even reply. And that was that - if you're in a car you can break the rules of the road right in front of the Police and nothing will happen. You can pretty much guarantee it. 

Bluntly @CambsCops you need to quit telling me to '#sharetheroad' when you do nothing to enforce the rules that would facilitate that working out. You seem to think #sharetheroad means some happy road Nirvana whereas in reality every time you use this phrase problem motorists read 'cyclists should get out of the way', whereas to us it just means 'stop driving at us'.

Your approach disproportionately targets cyclists and in so doing actively ignores the risk factors causing harm. This is disgraceful and disgusting victim blame. Stop it. I know that you approached cycle campaigners in Cambridge for input on this and were refused - can you really not understand that this victim blaming mentality is massively damaging to your reputation among cyclists? That your lack of action on illegal and dangerous driving coupled with a total capitulation to speeding, anti-social parking motorists means you've got a huge good-will deficit among cyclists, and that this campaign further stigmatises you in the eyes of ordinary folk who just want to ride a bike without their lives being endangered by the motorists you are clearly supporters of?

Addendum: We really oughtn't be surprised by this lamentable campaign on cyclist safety from a police service that thinks its ok to tweet real time traffic info to people driving, i.e. who through their actions condone mobile phone use at the wheel by giving information specifically to law breakers.