Sunday, 29 September 2013

Why am I angry?

I have been quiet on here in recent months.  I find it is hard to write about cycling without getting angry.  Anger is not generally a constructive or attractive emotion so I have just kept it to myself, until now.
I am angry that I am eleven times more likely to get killed cycling to work as driving to work.
I am angry that were I to get killed on my way to work, the criminal justice system would probably fail those I leave behind by applying 'momentary inattention' to virtually every piece of potentially lethal driving.
I am angry that those who endanger me go unpunished and free to do so again.
I am angry that a senior CPS official asserts (absurdly) that my video evidence does not support my complaint of dangerous driving against an HGV driver who nearly crushed me.
I am angry that the Met Police have no ambitions for 'Roadsafe' beyond a public relations exercise to pacify angry cyclists and will not find the resources to prosecute bad drivers.
I am angry that no police force will 'act' on intelligence of bad driving unless it comes to them in their predetermined bureaucratic format.
I am angry that those who attack cyclists (like me) avoid conviction whereas cyclists who lash out at motorists who endanger them get prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
I am angry that when police are eventually compelled to enforce ASLs, they put at least as much effort into prosecuting cyclists who stop ahead of the stop line to get ahead of traffic.
I am angry that two of my sporting heroes have gone in for victim blaming.
I am angry that a leading charity with close links to otherwise commendable law firms goes in for extreme victim blaming fronted by an ex Olympic oarsman.
I am angry at the cynicism of government ministers voting for the APPCG report which they have no intention of implementing.
I am angry that when tailgated by an HGV driver, I get told I am putting myself in danger by riding on the road ahead of him.
I am angry that, whereas Olympic lanes can be built overnight, there has been no spade into the ground to implement the London Mayor's cycling vision, whilst in the meantime more people on bicycles are being killed and injured.
I am angry that by the time action is consulted over and eventually taken, more people on bicycles will have been killed or injured by unsafe HGVs.
I am angry that nobody educates motorists that the way I ride is recommended and not provocative.
I am angry at sloppy, lazy, journalism which incites malevolence towards those of us on bicycles.
I am angry that civil litigation funding changes will make it harder for cyclists who are killed/injured to get the representation they need.
I am angry on behalf of my clients who often struggle to get that to which they are entitled.
I am angry at Eric Pickles.
That, dear reader, is why you have not been hearing much from me lately.

48 comments:

  1. I did defer to your 1st hand experience. I also agreed that the driving was nothing less than criminal behaviour. My comment was to point out that it may be best to avoid criminal behaviour even if it delays us. I certainly didn't mean that you were 'looking for it'.
    I am quite upset that my comments have angered you. My stance has always been that it is the HGV drivers responsibility to ensure the safety of fellow road users, regardless of circumstances. That is our professional duty.
    I also share all of your anger!

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    1. Please do not get upset. I am thinking of more extreme comments made on my youtube channel.

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  2. You and me both. It's hard.. but always remember we must use our anger to spur us on to do something to change whathever it is that has caused us to be angry in the first place.

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  3. Typical angry cyclist.... Like a wasp in an upturned glass. Get a car and maybe you can start to enjoy life.

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    1. Sit in traffic jams like you Keith? I don't think so.

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    2. You all do realise that Jollyselfrighteous is nothing but an especially stupid troll don't you? Feed it not.

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  4. I agree. The trouble is the anger becomes all consuming.

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  5. Martin,

    You are dead right to be angry on all these issues. But as a poster points out, the trick is to use that anger. Don’t let it consume you, or, worse still, silence you.
    Your posts have been inspirational and supportive to many of us. At the very least they show that intelligent people are pointing out some of what is so wrong – “bearing witness”, if you like.
    Without them the bastards would be able to get away with it more easily. We need well-argued evidence at all times – and you are one of the best for doing this.

    So do keep on.
    Best,
    Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF

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  6. I for one do not intend to spend the next 10 years campaigning for small, almost imperceptible, changes. I will no longer support any organisation that is willing to prop up inadequate infrastructure and victim blaming campaigns. I will, for the first times in my life, get my sorry arse on my bike and become visible at as many protests as possible. I do not indent to stop being angry, I intend to use it.

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  7. Martin I am wondering when the Road Regulator (effectively what the function of the Traffic Area Offices and Traffic Commissioners is about) seems to be so weak in its ability to get tough on vocational drivers and operators of PCV (Category D) and LGV (Category C & E) licence holders.
    Reading between the lines of the annual reports I sense that the TC's are also a bit angry because in taking the adversarial position of proposing the revocation of a D,C or E licence they face that same tenacity that we see when a driver is in Court for an offence that will revoke all categories of the licence, but they often have only the condition that the individual fails the test of having the good repute to continue to hold that LGV or PCV licence.
    There are promising signs, my local TC announced that she was going to get reports of all mobile phone offences from Police Scotland. I anticipate an increased number of formal interviews, although whether this will increase licence revocations is something we wait to see.
    Licence revocation might just have been the intervention that could have stopped a number of drivers killing and clearly Denis Putz should have been setting off all the alarms if his history had been brought to the notice of the TAO.
    An automatic formal interview for any vocational driver involved in a fatal or serious crash might be a good start.
    The other detail comes with a current case, where a court has banned a driver (ie total revocation of all licence categories) and the prospect of that driver automatically getting C (I don't think he had E or D) restored is not viewed highly by local people. If the restoration of the licence takes place early next year, it seems possible that the the Category C entitlement could be withheld if the TC is convinced that the person is not fit to hold such a licence, and has sufficient backing to challenge any appeal against that decision.

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    1. These are good points. There are differing attitudes amongst TCs. They currently seem to be too busy fighting for position with VOSA at present. They have the power to revoke both a vocational driving licence and an operators licence.

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  8. You put my feelings into text very well, thanks, lets all get angry

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    1. Let's not get angry, let's get even. Vote for somebody who supports our position at the next election. i.e. the Green Party.

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  9. I am a cyclist and a driver, so I get to see both sides.

    Firstly, I hope you aren't 11 times more likely to get killed on your bike, because I hope you are a better than average cyclist. I hope you are looking out for hazards and avoiding them, just like all road users should be doing. I hope you take into account the road and traffic conditions when deciding what speed to go, just like all road users should. I hope you make correct use of lighting and ensure you are visible at all times, again, just like all road users should. If you do all this, you are probably in the top 10% of cyclists, and much less likely to be killed than most cyclists on the road (at least in London - in other places I cycle, the quality of cycling is not so bad).

    What really amazes me is that more cyclists aren't killed. Given any half a dozen cyclists which might be within a couple hundred yards of me as we all cycle along the road, I often find I'm the only one which is wearing reflective clothing, or has any lights on, or stops at red lights (and I've been hit in the rear by another cyclist who was surprised that I stopped). I watch in horror as cyclists pass me in stationary traffic so they can squeeze down the inside of an artic in front of me with a gap so narrow they can't even stand the bike up, or zoom past at stupid speeds between stationary traffic with pedestrians crossing through the traffic.

    Sure, there are bad car/lorry/bus drivers too, but none would get away with consistently driving like many cyclists do. If you don't do these things, you are much less likely to be killed than the average London cyclist.

    This post will probably make you angry too, but it shouldn't - it's telling you why you aren't 11 times more likely to be killed, assuming you are a good cyclist and road user.

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    1. First, the great majority of KSI cyclists were not at fault.
      Second, I may be an unusually careful driver as well as cyclist. The statistics are clear about my relative risk.
      Third, my observations conflict with yours. I see more hazardous behaviour from drivers than From cyclists.

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    2. Anonymous -
      According to your lights, how are inexperienced/unsafe road users going to get a equal opportunity to get experienced/safe - no one comes fully fledged perfect, driver or any other road user, on the highway? Maybe you and Martin have perfected your own styles, but the system has to cope adequately with the learning process. At the moment it is failing motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians but not motorists. Something is seriously wrong.

      Anon 2

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    3. Anonymous, I think you're wrong. many, many drivers consistently get away with driving terribly, each and every day. I see them all the time as a driver and a cyclist. I don't actually believe these are poor drivers, (or indeed do I think cyclists who behave badly or poor riders), I believe these are poor road users and I'd guess they are equally split between cycle and motorised transport groups.

      The difference is that if you make a mistake on a bike, you're in for a scuffed knee. Make a mistake in a car and someone might die. The problem is that poor road users who drive don't take that responsibility seriously. At the end of the day a car is an industrial machine and if we applied the same lax controls to industrial workplaces that we do to driving about the place every factory floor would be a bloodbath.

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    4. Anon 2,

      When I was at primary school (many decades ago), there was a Cycling Proficiency Test run by the local policeman. Until you passed the test, you were not allowed to cycle to or from school. If you arrived at school on your bike and had any of the safety things broken/missing (lights, reflectors, brakes, etc), the school locked your bike to the rack until it was fixed or until your parents came to collect it. Safety was drummed in to us, but in all honesty, I probably didn't fully understand many of the cycling safety issues until I learned to drive a car and could see how invisible many cyclists are without the correct clothing/lights/etc.

      In those days, cyclists didn't routinely ignore traffic regulations (or at least, I didn't see it happening) - that's a more recent issue.

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    5. Anonymous, your words are all very well, but do not take into account the needs of very young or very elderly cyclists. I have a 10 year old son who is a very keen cyclist, he competes in cycling speed way, is an avid, enthusiastic and strong hill climber. His bike handling skills are way in advance of what mine have or will ever be. At the age of ten he should be well able to travel independently by bike without fear of death or serious injury. He has completed bikeability but it is clear he is not yet skilled enough to navigate our roads. So I do not allow him to cycle unaccompanied - what a ludicrous siuation! I also have a 75 year old mother-in-law, who used to be a keen cyclists, but now feels her reactions aren't acute enough to allow her to cycle among traffic.
      Here we have an example of two people who SHOULD be able to get about safely, independently by bike, but have had their freedom to do so curtailed by our lack of protection by cyclists. And that makes me angry too.

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    6. Cycle proficiency still exists and most schools do it but the kids are not allowed to ride in and out by their parents.

      30 years ago at the age of 10 I used do cycle off into the lanes of Essex and into the centre of Chelmsford with my friends. I'm sure kids growing up where I did are not allowed to do that anymore and I expect those lanes would be scary as an adult now. There is much more traffic, cars are more powerful, and people drive dangerously fast.

      The solution really isn't about teaching cyclists how to behave around motor vehicles, it's the reverse. I genuinely believe it's about creating safe segregated routes on all major roads and lowering (and enforcing) the speed limit elsewhere.

      20mph/40 mph should be the defaults not 30/60

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    7. This is exactly spot on. The roads have changed & yet the notion of Cycle Proficiency hasnt. I agree with the need to learn these cycling techniques, but roads are now so much more hostile & people so much more in a rush, how the driving test gets away with not having serious sections about vulnerable road users - it's disgraceful.

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    8. Anonymous -
      "I am a cyclist and a driver, so I get to see both sides."

      This is not unusual -- most adult cyclists are also drivers. It does not give you a unique insight.

      What I'd personally really like to see is a simple national advertising campaign aimed at reminding drivers that cyclists are allowed on the roads. It doesn't need to say anything more than that. Just a gentle, regular reminder: "Cyclists have a right to use the roads."

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    9. Didn't you read Martin's statement that cyclists are not to blame in the majority of motor-cycle collisions?

      jeez, how stupid are people? They just have no grasp of the significance of that fact.

      Until the mass media starts calling out the fact that drivers are typically rubbish (which is attacking their core audience) then nothing will change...

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  10. I agree with everything you have said. And being angry might not always be attractive, but is often justified.

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  11. Hey, Anonymous- if you drive badly, you are most likely going to hurt someone else. If you cycle badly, you are most likely to hurt yourself. You can't, therefore, morally equate the two behaviours.

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  12. I've been that angry for some time. My last road ride in Kent someone tried to run me off the road. Last week I witnessed a hit and run that the Police showed no interest in following up. Today a taxi tried to run us off the road for "riding two abreast" (within sight of a red light which we immediately passed him at).

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  13. I'm interested to hear about the Olympic Oarsman and the charity. I'm guessing it's James Cracknell but can someone direct me to a web page detailing the Charity's "victim blaming" stance?

    I live in New Zealand so haven't seen your news.
    Thanks

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  14. As a law man you know yourself that all you have to do is get the offender (motorist) to confess to their offence and their motivation on camera.

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  15. @Anonymous

    "I am a cyclist and a driver, so I get to see both sides."

    This false distinction is at the heart of many of the problems that arise when these matters come up. With respect, you only see your own side not both. The real divide is between "numpty" and "not such a numpty", along which axis we are all positioned somewhere. Which piece of hardware you happen to be in contact with is irrelevant.

    "What really amazes me is that more cyclists aren't killed. Given any half a dozen cyclists which might be within a couple hundred yards of me as we all cycle along the road, I often find I'm the only one which is wearing reflective clothing, or has any lights on, "

    As Maritn points out, the stats don't support the cyclist being at fault in the majority of KSIs. Driving whist texting is rife as anyone with a pair of eyes can attest to. Are you not falling victim to the very victim blaming mindset that leads ultimately to cyclists not getting protection from the police/courts? See above point.

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    1. Whilst agreeing that in the vast majority of cases the driver was in the wrong, Anonymous may still have a valid point that experience will improve our odds on the roads. And yes I really do see it from both sides, that is one of the reasons I take so much care when driving an HGV.

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  16. Amazed at some of these comments ! Like londonneur
    "I am a cyclist and a driver, so I get to see both sides."

    As regards Dominic Flynn's comment , could you see that actually happening ?

    " As a law man you know yourself that all you have to do is get the offender (motorist) to confess to their offence and their motivation on camera."
    AS in the comment of b33k34 , i have suffered what he states repeatedly by a variety of vehicles , even at this past Le Tour as evidenced in my blogs :

    " Today a taxi tried to run us off the road for "riding two abreast" (within sight of a red light which we immediately passed him at). What is it with these "vigilanties " ? Do they expect other vehicles to attack them in similar fashion ?

    Anonymous at 23.06 highlights WHAT SHOULD be happening , youngsters being educated and being held to account for their Safety , hopefully taking this experience into their driving years ?

    With the election of New Management at the UCI , this past weekend , many of you will not be aware that @gaudryt , the aussie VP_Cycling , was CEO of the Amy Gillett Foundation of Oz . The foundation primarily promotes what Martin Porter is trying to achieve , SAFETY for CYCLISTS on the ROADS !

    Will be tweeting a link and hopefully Tracey will seek to use Martin's efforts to remind Aussies that this is a WORLDWIDE Problem that needs International effort rather than a country by country solution .

    UCI could become more than an organisation that controls Cycle Racing but a source of Influence with the Policing Authorities since those are the resources needed for Race Safety ?

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  17. Anger eats you up mate. I just zen out and ignore the beeps, close passes etc. Best thing you can do for your safety is ignore the lights as it is starting off with the traffic that's the killer - look at TFL's own statistics. You have to look out for your own safety but anger won't help you I'm afraid.

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    1. Hi - good comment - can you point me to the statistics?

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  18. I am angry, more than anything, that my son will not get to experience the same (mediocre) level of freedom I had.

    Until cycling advocates start framing their arguments in a way that speaks to the vast majority of people that do not cycle, our anger will continue to be futile.

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  19. If Martin, in his position within the legal system, cannot get justice what hope is there for the rest of us who are truly on the outside?

    So how do we channel all this anger usefully? I march, I ride, I respond to consultations but change is not coming fast enough

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  20. | imagine you're also miffed about the judge who ruled that the driver who looked away from the road for ten seconds and killed a cyclist,despite the signs saying "danger,cyclists",didn't need to go to prison,as it was something that could happen to anyone.

    Don't just get angry mate,make it change!

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  21. And it goes on.....

    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/hit-and-run-apparently-to-teach-them-a-lesson

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  22. Firstly, I am pleased to see you blogging again. I find the insights useful and informative. I fully understand your anger, it is one that I resound with, thankfully I've not actually managed to get hit, but it is only a matter of time. Each time we read about these token gestures they are almost immediately followed up by some negative news story, either a death or a cyclist wrongly persecuted. Then the anger switches to something more corrosive as I realise that benefit cheats see more gaol time than those who murder with cars, that society values property above life. It is these moments when I lose all faith in humanity.

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  23. http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/bromley/10516263.Catford_man_accused_of_hitting_Chislehurst_cyclist_and_driving_away_not_guilty_of_two_charges/

    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10636753.Judge_blames_sat_nav_for_cyclist_s_death/?ref=nt

    http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/10650266.Driver_who_killed_cyclist_given_community_order/

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  24. Deaths on the road generally are trivialised, even though double the murder rate. The lawlessness of drivers is shameless - driver groups blame the victim and are hostile to police enforcement - "persecution" apparently. There is a Justice Gap for road victims compared with other victims.

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  25. Anger is OK, just direct it; remember Jesus in the temple!

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  26. Can someone explain why the legal frame system is now passing such seemingly lenient sentences?

    In who’s interest do such lenient sentences serve? Is it to best use the limited funds of legal services (and so not applying for “Dangerous Driving)?

    It seems to me with less money available in the legal system, the courts use lower threshold of charge.

    If this is the case, with more severe cases being pushed through on a lower threshold of charge, the fines and penalties available for these “lower” charges need to be increased.

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  27. "I am angry that, whereas Olympic lanes can be built overnight, there has been no spade into the ground to implement the London Mayor's cycling vision, whilst in the meantime more people on bicycles are being killed and injured."

    that would be because there were very strict deadlines and finacial penlties for not getting the Olympic infrastructure in place.

    Sadly, there are no deadlines or penalties involved in the implementation of the "cycling Vision", merely dead amd maimed cyclists.

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  28. Hi Martin, see http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/10/go-by-bike-holland-shows-way-news-just.html by David Hembrow. He nails excuses really well having spent 7 years in Assen, NL

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  29. The police do not care whether cyclists live or die, and never will. It's tragic that we live in a country that, on the one hand, has no legislation to protect the vulnerable on the roads; and on the other hand, have a police farce that wouldn't bother enforcing it if it existed.

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