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James Daley - the muppetry continues
28.02.08 by Buffalo Bill

As I said before, when I awarded him a Gold Kermit, I have tried to ignore James Daley, who writes a column in the Independent on cycling.

But this week’s edition of the column goes too far. Not content with finding the Specialized Langster good, writing puff pieces about freebie kit and passing it off as journalism, plugging Evans Cycles (his picture shows him clad in one of the Evans’ tops), starting a pointless and absurd war with motor-cyclists, he has now decided that if cyclists should be stopped from breaking the law, then a new offence of jay-walking should be created. This, in Daley’s view, would somehow compensate cyclists for being subject to the same laws as cars, lorries and buses. At least that what I think he is saying. The message is a little confusing.

I know it isn’t a popular message with cyclists, but pedestrians have more of a right to be in the road than cyclists. We have a duty to try and avoid them, no matter how stupid they might appear. Sometimes it isn’t possible to avoid them, it’s true. Sometimes they are looking the wrong way, whilst talking on the phone, listening to MP3 player, reading a news-paper (possibly distracted by the poor quality of cycling writing) and hailing a cab, and then step out right in front of the front wheel.

But bitching about ‘stupid pedestrians’ and how they should be fined for ignoring the red man does no one any favours. Especially when many cyclists seem unclear about the rules of the road. How often do you see cyclists turn from a major road into a minor road, in the expectation that the pedestrians will scatter like pigeons? In that situation, a cyclist is behaving inconsiderately, in a manner contrary to the rules of the road, and rules of courtesy which should dictate that the harder vehicle gives way to the softer.

OK, cyclists are not nearly as dangerous to pedestrians as motor-vehicles. For the record, over 600 pedestrians are killed on the UK’s road each year. One or less dies as the result of a collision with a cyclist, each year. Likewise, pedestrians, despite being consistently identified in anecdotes as such, are not nearly as great a hazard to cyclists as motor vehicles. I really don’t want to recap the stats, someone else who wants to refute that statement can.

Calling for a ban on pedestrians using the road is a short step from calling for a ban on cyclists using from the road. We were all up in arms last year when the Highway Code amendments appeared to be paving the way for exactly that. So it ill behoves cyclists to claim that pedestrians should stay out of the road, on pain of legal sanction.

By calling for an offence of jay-walking, James Daley is once again showing that he puts little consideration into his cycling columns, and sees only the view from his saddle. And what a blinkered view it is.

  1. It is a real problem though. Pedestrians walking into the road looking at ipods or checking their phone messages without even a glance is more than worrying and equally as scary as having a bike turn in on you. After MUCH experience of this I put it down in the end to ‘human nature’, something a fine isn’t going to be able to sort.

    p.s. I notice that either Matt Seaton has run out of things to say or he’s on holiday. Get in there Bill.

    — messyanger    28 February 2008, 19:43    #
  2. Well said, well said.

    David    28 February 2008, 19:49    #
  3. Aside from bike snobbery what’s wrong with a Langster? They made the London one is the gayest looking so Specialized are obviously on the ball about some things.

    westcoastmess    28 February 2008, 20:35    #
  4. You’re right. It’s pure snobbery.

    — Bill    28 February 2008, 21:58    #
  5. Hi Bill,
    thanks for the mention. Just one point – I’m really wasn’t advocating that jaywalking is made illegal. I actually said that I would prefer red light jumping on bikes to be made legal.

    I was just suggesting that if you follow through the regular RLJ arguments, then the logical extension would be to make jaywalking illegal as well.

    By the way, I think Matt Seaton’s quit his column. A shame.


    — James Daley    29 February 2008, 16:41    #
  6. Fair enough, James, and thanks for taking the time to correct my misconception.

    Matt is doing the Marmotte, which is in my top 5 hardest rides ever, so he’s probably out training even as I write this.

    — Bill    29 February 2008, 19:14    #
  7. Agree 100 percent with Buffalo Bill.

    I ride quite a lot in London, sometimes pretty fast. Interestingly, so far I haven’t had any problem avoiding careless pedestrians. The faster I go, the further away I am from the kerb. I observe peds on the pavement. It’s really possible to predict what they’re up to. If I see someone not paying attention to me yet still moving towards the road about to cross, I slow down; if need be, I come to a stop and wait.

    Yes, sometimes this causes me some inconvenience. But it’s never a delay worth mentioning. I think pedestrians should have the right to be careless. Whenever I walk in London, I’m already forced to make detours, wait for lots of traffic (motorized and non-motorized) before I can cross the road, etc.

    And I think James’s defence in comment #5 is weak at best. Equating jaywalking with red-light-jumping is precisely the problem. While cyclists are much less dangerous than cars (less mass, and often lower speed), pedestrians are less dangerous yet. So it is perfectly fair to demand more duty of care from cyclists than from pedestrians, just as it is fair to demand more duty of care from a lorry driver than from a cyclist.

    For the record, personally I’m perfectly fine with handling cyclists’ red light jumping much less strictly than RLJ’ing by cars and lorries, for the same reasons. But AFAIK, this is already the case: cyclists don’t have licence plates (rightly so), and my guess is that if they get fined for RLJ’ing, it’s less than the fine for a motorist. But it is perfectly okay to formally ask cyclists to respect the red light and not make the same demands of pedestrians.

    — Marianne    1 March 2008, 16:55    #
  8. Bieks have to obey the same rules as cars, but for pete’s sake no one should be given a blank check to risk other’s lives. Even pedestrians. If I jump in front of a bus and cause him to swerve all over, I’m the cause of whatever crash results. Same with the woman who (along with her toddler — what a parent) ran in front of me today on my bike — and by blind luck I didn’t take out the kid.

    Obviously the operator of a vehcile — bike or auto — has more responsibility, they are going faster, but for gawd’s sake if you jump out in front of a vehicle you are risking a crash and you’re an idiot.
    All of this, of course, is assuming the vehicle (bike or auto) is obeying the laws. A cyclists who runs traffic signals has no right to complain about pedestrians who are just as stupid.

    — Elvis    6 March 2008, 23:32    #
  9. Marianne.

    * I think pedestrians should have the right to be careless *

    How wonderful that you have managed to avoid any serious accidents, we must put this down to your outstanding ability to predict exactly what all pedestrains are going to do at all times through your superior powers of observation.

    But here’s a scenario. You’re cycling along past a stationary bus on your left and a pedestrian strides out from in front of the bus and you have no option to crash straight into them. You go over the handlebars and get thrown into the path of an oncoming taxi who runs over your head.

    At your funeral the pastor says God rest your soul but ‘at least the law was on the side of the pedestrian who is both unharmed and still alive so that they don’t have to walk this earth with the burden of guilt on their shoulders. Thank God for small mercies.’


    — Messyanger    7 March 2008, 07:33    #
  10. I’m all for eliminating people that cant look before they step into the road from the gene pool.

    That said over here (states) we have jay walking laws, it does not stop people stepping out into the street, it just gives cops the ability to write tickets, and even arrest people they don’t like the look of.

    also i dont think peds have a right to the road (pavement yes, road no). and i think they should yield to cyclists, because i am selfish

    chriscrash    10 March 2008, 06:59    #
  11. Chris, you didn’t read the article at all, did you?

    — Bill    10 March 2008, 20:32    #
  12. i read them booth, where i grew up state side you are told to look before you step into traffic and that if a vehicle is turning with out a stop signal you wait for it before crossing, and i think that this works well. it encourages people to look and if we all look no one gets hurt.

    I think making the world nicer for people who cant look where they are going by padding lamp posts and giving them the right of way just encourages people not look where they are going, and they are going to run into something not padded, or that does/can not stop to give them right of way

    chriscrash    11 March 2008, 03:58    #
  13. occasionally you get the exact opposite of the ipod-wearing, phone-chatting, step-out-without-looking idiots: peds who refuse to cross when you stop to let them go! messengerofdoom.word…

    — Messenger of doom    26 February 2009, 11:33    #
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