A couple of near misses on my commute home yesterday and a couple of twitter spats recently have prompted me to get this post off my chest.
Facts are facts people. Its a fact that some drivers (a lot actually) believe by owning a vehicle gives them a right to drive. They believe they pay a ‘road’ tax too, so they are more entitled to use the road than cyclists and believe that the manner in which some cyclists ride, such as two-abreast, is illegal and an affront to their road space. They believe this is not fair because cyclists don’t “contribute” to the roads.
These people really grate and the bile you read some spout on social media ranges from so thick its funny to so tapped its scary.
What these uneducated morons don’t know or refuse to accept is the mythical road tax is a just that… a myth. It was abolished in 1937 and all road funding now comes out of general taxation and is therefore funded by anyone, whether they drive or not, that pays income tax. The ‘tax’ on vehicles is VED (vehicle excise duty) based on the vehicles (published, well don VW!) CO2 emissions which essentially means you pay to pollute. The irony of their argument is a cyclist and an electric car pay no VED because they don’t emit CO2 but they single out the cyclist who doesn’t damage the roads, is less than a quarter the size of a car and doesn’t cause congestion. All the bug bears of any petrolhead but its the fault of cyclists. Its a twisted logic I can’t reconcile.
“…you don’t pay road tax!” – Really? I know that actually but you don’t either.
“…you should have an MOT and Insurance!” – I don’t have to mate there is no legal requirement to have either but so you know, I do have 3rd party insurance in case I damage your car or run you over, ok?
“…but cycle lanes cause congestion!” – No mate, vehicles cause congestion and every bike that goes past is one car farther you are further forward in the queue.
“…but cycle lanes cause air pollution because of the congestion!” – Errr no, cars pollute, cyclists (and your kids) have to breath it in.
“…but cycle lanes are a waste of money because they are always empty!” – yes, because they are very efficient at moving people. 5 times more at a fraction of the space and the cost of building and maintaining a whole road for vehicles
Thick doesn’t cut it sometimes.
Rights to Drive
Nobody has a right to drive in the UK. It is a privilege (the driving licence) gained by passing a test. It can be rescinded therefore any rights gained by owning a valid driving licence can be taken away. Why do drivers that know they can’t drive without one think its a right? So dumb.
Riding two or more abreast
This is a constant, moronic argument offered up by lazy drivers who are too impatient to wait to pass when its safe. They constantly refer to Rule 66 of the Highway Code and Section 29 of the Road Traffic Act.
The Highway Code is a confusing document. It is outdated and mish-mash of ‘rules’ and laws. Rule 66 is ambiguous because it refers to not riding two abreast but because it is not actually in law it can only be advisory. But some drivers don’t understand this and they’re not willing to be told either.
The Road Traffic Act on the other hand is law but Section 29 makes no mention of riding two or more abreast in fact it only refers to it being an offence to ride in an inconsiderate manner. Only thick people claim riding two or more abreast is inconsiderate and therefore illegal. Thats a big leap for a someone with the brain the size of a pea. If they did some research they would find countless sources (West Midlands and Surrey Police being just two) stating it is not illegal in fact it is safer to do so. Drivers have no enhanced rights over cyclists on the road and if they can’t pass safely they should simply wait until it is safe to do so. Common sense dictates safety of vulnerable road users should take precedence over inhibiting a car driver being able to pass immediately but some will just not listen.
Despite West Midlands Police undertaking Operation Close Pass to highlight the vulnerability of cyclists and proactively prosecute offenders driving dangerously close, the Twitterati still complain about being unable to pass at a safe distance rather than accepting they simply have to wait and not risk the life of the cyclist. Its painful to read such dumbfuckness over and over and over again
My experience on the road and online are different. On the road I’m lucky that close passes and road rage are relatively rare. I’d love a fairytale world of being able to share the roads safely all of the time but my experience stands me in good stead and my regular roads are pretty good compared to bigger, built up areas.
Online is different as I choose to look for the morons and I am guilty of going on moral crusades to troll, call out and educate those that are clearly wrong or are so self-entitled they deserve it. There is a pack mentality online with cyclists homing in on spats where drivers and cyclists disagree which I’ve got drawn into a few times. Its probably not something to be encouraged or shout about but I do draw a line and even block some that are just trolling or are so self-entitled, education is impossible. I live in the real world so I know I’m at some form of risk every day I cycle and that most of the bile and hate online is fuelled because its relatively anonymous and easy to type.
I see a change coming though. I see a change in favour of healthier lifestyles, air quality and better transport choices for future generations. It will be a rough ride as the petrolheads hang on but I hope our kids will take a more considered view and understand the changes will ultimately benefit us all as other nations and cities in Europe and around the world have proven it has over the last few decades.
We have an obesity epedemic, an air quality problem and traffic just gets worse and worse. Meanwhile we dish out drugs for diabetes and breathing problems, we build more roads so we can take more traffic and the air quality gets worse. Someone has to get a grip and make the tough choices. Prescribe exercise and reduce uneccessary car journeys by offering better infrastructure for walking and cycling in all of our lives. School, work, home. The health of the nation gets better, the air gets better and when we have to drive we get there quicker.
I don’t want to prosecute, I want to educate.
All I want to do is share the road safely.
Rant over. Night x