Cyclists to be banned from using the road
11.05.07 by Buffalo Bill
OK, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far from the truth. The Highway Code is currently being revised. And those nice men at the ministry have decided to insert a clause recommending that cyclists use cycle routes and cycle facilities…wherever possible, as they can make your journey safer. Moving Target reported on why this could be a threat to cyclists’ safety last year.
Whilst the Highway Code does not have the force of law, it carries considerable weight with the courts when deciding where responsibility for collisions lie. It has been argued in the past by insurance companies that cycling on a busy fast road is contributory negligence ie simply riding a bike in heavy traffic is stupid, and therefore, as a stupid person, an injured cyclist is not entitled to full compensation.
If the new Highway Code includes this clause, then it will be possible for the insurers, and the lawyers of defendants in prosecutions for criminal driving, to argue that as the HC instructs cyclists to effectively stay off the road ‘whereever possible’, then motorists should not be held responsible for the consequences should cyclists be so unwise as to continue to occupy the hallowed tarmac.
I think bike lanes are ludicrous, unsafe and merely an attempt to keep us out of the road. Bicycle messengers rarely use them. I rarely use them. Anyone with any sense rarely uses them, unless they are a Bromptonocrat, in which case they take whatever ridiculous detour is required to follow them with glee, enthusiastically dismounting where instructed and joyously halting at all the nonsensically sited yield signs.
The Cyclists Touring Club and others are petitioning the Department of Stupid Ideas to get the clause dropped. Previous attempts to reason with the Ministry of Madness have resulted in the word ‘practical’ being changed to ‘possible’. I strongly recommend all MT readers to sign one of the on-line petitions.
I have received 3 or 4 different emails on the subject in the last 24 hours from such diverse sources as ‘Headbanging’ Bob Davis and Winston, urging action. Matt Seaton spoke out against the amendment yesterday in his ‘Two Wheels’ column, and Will Self, despite dividing the London cycling community, did likewise in the Standard. I am not aware of a single organisation representing cyclists that approves of the change.
So what is the Department for Increasing Carbon Emissions playing at? I read somewhere that there is not a single cyclist working in the Highway Code revision bit of the Department for Transport. Maybe that’s why they are unable to comprehend that pavements are for pedestrians, gutters are for sewage and that the safe and direct route from A to B is not around the bloody houses.
Menzies Campbell, leader of the Literal Demagogue party, has put down an Early Day Motion (I have no idea what it means either) that the alterations in the provisions of the Highway Code proposed to be made by the Secretary of State for Transport, dated 28th March 2007, a copy of which was laid before this House on 28th March, be not made.
In layman’s language, this translates to don’t be so stupid, you f***ing muppets, do you take us for complete c***s?
If you really want to make a difference, you can also write to your MP (even if you didn’t vote for him/her or are not registered to votein the UK), and insist that they sign the motion.
Here is what the Cycle Campaign Network has to say on the subject of lobbying MPs:
Particularly if you are writing to a Labour MP , it is worth mentioning that the cycling organisations are still in dialogue with officials and hope that the Government may yet agree to revise the Highway Code – hence they may be paving the way for a ‘good news’ announcement from the Minister.
For MPs of all parties, please also ask them to speak to their party colleagues in the Lords to ask them also to ‘pray against’ the Highway Code. For procedural reasons, the Code is far more likely to be challenged effectively in the Lords than in the Commons.
Once again: sign the petition. Write to your MP.
If you want to know more, download the Cycle Campaign Network pdf.