What is it about the internet and the internal combustion engine that makes some folks so callous?
A 52-year old woman riding at the back of a group of ten road cyclists from the safety-conscious Spring City Cycling Club was hit and killed by a motorist on Saturday on a country road in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Friends and family have had to chastise forum-posting motorists for victim-blaming.
Sharon Bayler was thrown 166ft by the impact but apologist friends of the driver (who were not in the driver’s truck at the time) have insisted he was driving 37-40mph, a few miles below the posted speed limit of 45mph. This was a road “he was raised on”: but, as numerous studies have shown, ‘knowing a road’ makes many motorists blasé. The blacktop and curves may be familiar but not every journey is the same: there can be fallen trees in the road; slower or stopped vehicles; anything.
The police did not charge the driver with any motoring offences.
“Troopers said the collision was an accident and no charges will be filed against the truck’s driver, 42-year-old Edward Vincent Higgin of Fayetteville.”
Sharon Bayler was said to have been hit near a curve in the road (although incident-scene witnesses said the road was straight at the point of impact). The driver “couldn’t see Bayler riding because of the combination of a shaded area and the sun.”
As cyclists have pointed out on newspaper story postings, if the the driver couldn’t see what was in front of him, he should have slowed to a crawl. But how many drivers ever follow this bit of common sense?
Just a tiny minority of motorists knowingly use their cars as weapons but many of the rest speed around without due care and attention. Crashes are ‘accidents’; texting or calling when driving is not seen as a sin. It’s tough to get prosecutions of motorists because of ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’ from law-makers and law-enforcers.
It’s been like this from the very early days of motoring but back then there were less motorists to worry about. Now, cyclists and pedestrians are often put at unnecessary risk because way too many motorists think nothing of speeding: their ABS brakes and airbags fill them with a sense of invulnerability.
They think nothing full-stop. Motoring is not seen as a dangerous activity. In reality, it’s extremely dangerous, both for ‘unprotected’ vulnerable road users but for drivers, too. One slip of the steering wheel when travelling at speed and a motorist can be toast. One glance down at a text message at 60mph and many metres go by, unseen. 99 times out of a hundred there’s no cyclist in the way, no kerb for the motorist to bounce into and be deflected into the HGV in the opposite lane. Drivers get away with inattentive driving and assume they’ll always get away with it.
There are lots of dead cyclists, killed child pedestrians and, of course, squashed motorists, to prove that ‘accidents will happen’. For accidents read inattention or, sometimes, wanton negligence.
Apparently the Tennessee driver who killed Sharon Bayler is full of remorse but not so some of his fellow motorists. How thoughtless do you have to be to post anti-cyclist comments on a news story about a cyclist fatality? Sadly, it’s common. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed. Friends and families of killed cyclists often read online stories about an ‘accident’ as a form of grieving, leaving tributes to the deceased, but are confronted by commenters with a twisted, sickening windscreen-view of the world.
When reading their comments it makes you want to give up cycling on anything other than traffic-free trails because thoughtless drivers are everywhere. This might be one of the reasons for the dripping vitriol: get off our roads, go ride on a velodrome, take your Spandex ‘costumes’ someplace else. Naturally, there are always comments about ‘road tax’ and why cyclists shouldn’t be on roads paid for by motorists.
“I’m sorry that she was killed, but this should be expected. Bicycles don’t belong on the road. Once I was driving my truck and came around a curve and there was a cyclist, arrogantly (and stupidly) refusing to move over. There was no way I could’ve stopped. (And no, I wasn’t speeding). Luckily there was no oncoming traffic and I was able to swerve around him. If there had been a car coming I would have had 3 choices: 1-hit the cyclist, kill him. 2-hit the oncoming car, kill them. 3-run off the road (tall steep bank), kill myself. There is no reason for a bicycle to be on the road. You can go find a bike trail, or stay out of the way…I hope they do the right and sensible thing and ban bicycles from roads before someone else dies.” Dan
Lake Worth, FL
“If you want to cycle on the road then you take your chances. Just like swimming in the ocean. You take your chances that you might get eaten or drown. You cannot police everyone or prevent every accident. Things are just going to happen. You agree to take that chance when you get on the road…This is a sad accident but shows that accidents will occur and you cannot stop them. If you don’t want to get hit then stay off the road.” Jim
“Did you ever wonder why small planes and large planes don’t use the same airports? Figure it out.” Butch
“I am sorry for any loss of life but slow moving bicycles do not belong on the same road as cars. They are accidents just waiting to happen. Another sore point for me is these bicycles pay no taxes for using the road like my car or motorcycle. I pay taxes by way of a tag and through gas for the upkeep of roads also I am required to carry insurance on my car and motorcycle that bicycles don’t. I say if they want to share the road then require them to buy a tag and insurance just as i have to do and restrict them to secondary roads where they are not causing traffic problems.” Bama
“Please remember what your mother taught you years ago, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This post is being viewed by Sharon’s family and friends too. Again, please post with repect.” Teresa sister-in-law
Belle Rive, IL
“Please, whether you’re a motorist or cyclist, show respect for each other and follow the rules of the road. Avoid distractions… don’t text EVER while driving, and put down the cell phone. The call is not that important, it can wait until you pull off and answer it. Your full attention should be ON THE ROAD. If you’re a cyclist, be aware of vehicular traffic, obey the rules and regulations, and cycle politely.” Rocket City Cyclist
Today we tend to think of the Automobile Association as a roadside rescue organisation with a penchant for pro-car PR. However, for much of its early history it was a radical campaigning organisation, a thorn in the side of the Government. It was founded with the express aim of defeating police speed traps and used cyclists as the ’scouts’.
A glimpse into the early history of the AA is shown in the wonderfully evocative video below from the AA’s archives. The video is fronted by Sir Stenson Cooke who was the AA’s Secretary from 1905 until his death in 1942. He was knighted in 1933 but by this time the AA was embedded into society – now a car-owning society – and the AA was nowhere near as radical as when it was founded.
Cycling shares some history with the AA. In effect, the organisation was helped into existence by cyclists. In March 1905 a motorist called Walter Gibbons wrote to Autocar magazine suggesting a Motorists’ Protection Association for the Prevention of Police Traps. Two other motorists replied saying arrangements had been made to patrol the Brighton road to warn motorists of said police traps. The first patrols went out in April 1905. Guess what they used as patrol vehicles? Yep, bicycles.
Within months, this informal arrangement of a “special staff of cyclists” was formalised into an organisation and it appointed a full-time secretary, Stenson Cooke. This organisation was called the Automobile Association.
The AA relied on cycle scouts for some years. According to the AA, the organisation’s famous badge was “introduced simply to help the scouts identify AA members.”
Early AA cycle scouts used their own bicycles, for which they were paid an allowance. Before the introduction of uniforms in 1909, the scouts had to provide their own clothing too.
By 1912 there were 950 AA cycle scouts across the UK. The motorcycle patrols, known as Road Service Outfits or ‘RSOs’, weren’t created until 1919. By 1923 there were 274 AA motorbike patrols but still 376 cyclists.
The video above shows how cyclists were paid to be speed-trap spotters. It also shows how, before motoring became mainstream, it was a loathed activity: rich motorists were guilty of raising dust and damaging roads. I’m currently researching the history of British road improvements, especially in the years 1910-1937. This was the span of the Road Fund, the pot of cash raised from motorists from when a ‘road tax’ existed. Only a small fraction of this fund helped pay for Britain’s roads, something I explore on my campaigning website iPayRoadTax.com.
It’s worth pointing out that Professor Edmund King, today’s president of the AA, is an active cyclist.
And the AA has a team of cycle-based breakdown patrols to tackle traffic chaos at big events such as Wimbledon or Glastonbury.
Read the rest of "AA founded as ’speed trap’ foiler; spotters were cyclists"...
When US Transport Secretary Ray LaHood promised “we are holding Toyota’s feet to the fire” over the recent accelerator-pedal car recall I’m pretty sure he didn’t know there was a back-story to this fiery phrase, and that – via the word chauffeur and some feet-toasting bad ‘uns – it relates to motoring, and can even be linked to cycling.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word chauffeur means stoker, from chauffer ‘to heat’, which in turn is from Old French, chaufer ‘to heat, rub with the hands to make warm’ whence we get a word familiar to cyclists: chafe. Its meaning “to make sore by rubbing” was current by the 1500s.
“The earliest automobiles, like their railroad and sea vessel counterparts, were steam-powered and required the driver to pre-heat the engine to produce energy, thus, the French term for stoker was adapted.”
But, as with many words, there can be other derivations and there’s perhaps a good case for an earlier definition to be used. The online archive of Popular Science magazine is a fascinating time-sink. And this morning I found the following definition of the word chauffeur, from the June 1918 issue of PopSci:
“It seems that the word chauffeur means ’scorcher’. Over a century ago, some particularly brigandish brigands lived on the borderland between France and Germany. To force ransoms from their captives, these desperadoes grilled the soles of their victims’ feet before a fierce fire. So the countryfolk referred to the band as scorchers or, in French, chauffeurs.
“Not so many years back, when these same imaginative French were in need of a descriptive name for motor-car drivers, they hit upon the word chauffeur. Just how much ’scorching’ of a more modern kind these up-to-date brigands of the road indulge in is best divulged by police records of fines for speeding.”
So, an early word for ‘motorist’ – before it morphed into its current servile meaning - was chauffeur, and this was linked to a word for speeding.
As with many things motoring, bicycle riders got there first. Scorching might have been used of speeding motorists by 1918 but it was used earlier than this for bicycle boom riders of the 1880s-1890s. Scorchers were riders who wanted to go fast, and bicycles were advertised by manufacturers as ’scorchers’.
In an American book on ‘how to bicycle’ from 1892, L. F. Korns wrote:
“As a means of pleasure, cycling stands in the foremost rank, but in common with all the great pleasures, it may easily stand in the foremost in abuse. The desire to ride at an unreasonably high speed may become morbid…The ever lasting scorcher, bent like a hoop, and with sunken cheeks, ought to be quite sufficient warning against this abuse.”
Naturally, ’scorching’ was not seen by cyclists as an abuse. It was a badge of pride, an athletic accomplishment.
19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier thought the speed-crazed bicyclist was a blend of man-and-machine: “The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.”
But, as famously described by American women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony in 1896, cycling was also one of the key tools of female emancipation:
“I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.”
Anthony, like her friend and fellow feminist Amelia Bloomer, advocated universal suffrage but also called for ‘rational dress’, the fashion for less restricting women’s garments. Bloomer didn’t invent the leggings named for her, but she popularised them. ‘Athletic bloomers’ allowed women to cycle more easily.
It’s interesting that in this sheet-music cover for a popular tune of 1897, the publisher has started off with the ’scorcher’ heroine in a dress…
…but she was later shown wearing bloomers, also known as ‘rationals’, relatively radical attire for the day:
But enough about bloomers, let’s get back to those Franco-German brigands. A quick tappity-tap into a popular search engine and out pops the name John the Scorcher; in German, Schinderhannes. He’s the German equivalent of Robin Hood, although, unlike Nottingham’s favourite son, he’s a genuine historical figure. The Robber of the Rhine was executed in 1803.
[The brigands] were often called Chauffeurs or Scorchers; because they were accustomed to hold the soles of their victims’ feet in front of a fierce fire, to extort a revelation of the place where their property was concealed…Each band had a camp or rendezvous, with lines of communication throughout a particular district. The posts on these lines were generally poor country taverns, the landlords of which were in league with the band. And not only was this the case, but from Holland to the Danube, the chauffeurs could always obtain friendly shelter at these houses, with means for exchanging intelligence with others of the fraternity.
Schinderhannes, or ‘John the Scorcher,’ was the most famous of all the leaders of these robbers. His real name was Johann Buckler; but his practice of chauffage, or scorching the feet of his victims, earned for him the appellation of Schinderhannes. Born in 1779, near the Rhine, he from early years loved the society of those who habitually braved all law and control.”
If PopSci is right, and Merriam Webster is incomplete, via the word chauffeur we can link together Ray LaHood, the Robber of the Rhine, speeding motorists, and ’scorcher’ cyclists.
Speeding motorists and cyclists have never mixed. Evylyn Thomas of New York could attest to that. On May 30th 1896 she became the first cyclist to be run over and injured by a motorist (or at least first to be so reported). The New-York Daily Tribune of the time recounted the incident thus:
“The wagon [automobile] operated by Henry Wells, of Springfield, Mass., wobbled furiously, going in a zig-zag fashion, until it seemed that the driver had lost control of it. Evylyn Thomas, of No. 459 West Ninetieth-st., was approaching on her bicycle, when suddenly the wheel and horseless carriage met, and there was a crash. A crowd gathered, and the woman was picked up unconscious, her leg fractured. An ambulance took her to the Manhattan Hospital, where last night it was reported that she would recover soon. Wells was taken to the West One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth-st. station, and held pending the result of the injuries to Miss Thomas. The wagon went on in charge of another operator.”
The newspaper didn’t state whether it was Miss Thomas or Mr Wells who was guilty of “scorching”.
Phew, all of this history and etymology came from research I’ve been doing for an 82-page iPhone/iPad/Android version of the Bike to Work Book. I posted this online yesterday. It’s the 95 percent finished proof only for the moment, a revised version will be placed on Issuu.com next week. For now, it’s clicky-flicky right here (hit full-screen to let the extra flavour flood out):
Read the rest of "Ray LaHood, John the Scorcher, some bloomers and a bunch of brigands"...
SMIDSY is clearly nothing new. Drivers have been saying ’sorry, mate, I didn’t see you,’ from the earliest days of motoring. Although as the first drivers were all toffs, they probably never said sorry when they ran over the rural poor.
In September, 1902, the Chief Constable of Huntingdonshire wrote to the Home Office:
“It is a significant fact that two gentlemen of education and position…when exceededing 20mph passed horses and carts…which they subsequently declared they never saw. It being impossible to doubt their word, the question arises as to whether great mischief may not de done, by want of attention on the part of drivers, or their inability to see what is on the road.”
EXTRACTS FROM ‘WIND IN THE WILLOWS’:
Glancing back, they saw a small cloud of dust, with a dark centre of energy, advancing on them at incredible speed, while from out the dust a faint ‘Poop-poop!’ wailed like an uneasy animal in pain…they had a moment’s glimpse of…the magnificent motor-car, immense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to a speck in the far distance, changed back into a droning bee once more.
‘Glorious, stirring sight!’ murmured Toad, never offering to move. ‘The poetry of motion! The real way to travel! The only way to travel! Here to-day— in next week to-morrow! Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped— always somebody else’s horizon! O bliss! O poop-poop! O my! O my!’
‘O what a flowery track lies spread before me, henceforth! What dust-clouds shall spring up behind me as I speed on my reckless way! What carts I shall fling carelessly into the ditch in the wake of my magnificent onset!”
[Mr Toad] increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was…Toad the terror, the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night.
Mr Toad later got 20 years in the clink. Not for his reckless driving, but for stealing a car.
“Once allow us to be put on separate roads and there will be an increasing outcry to keep us to those roads and to forbid us access to the ordinary roads of the country.”
Who said that? When did he say it and what was he referring to?
Opposition from a president of the CTC in 1878 to compulsory cycle paths, perhaps? Wrong.
A complaint from the Self Propelled Traffic Association of 1895? Nope.
Mind-blowingly, it’s by William Joynson-Hicks, writing in the Motor Union’s Journal in 1909. Joynson-Hicks, a Conservative MP petrolhead was Minister for Health, 1923-4 and Home Secretary, 1924-29.
It’s amazing to realise that motorists once had the same fears as cyclists today; that they’d be shunted off to a hinterland, segregated from other road users.
The Joynson-Hicks quote - and many other little nuggets of history - has come from my researches for iPayRoadTax.com. I’m working on a timeline of road funding, starting with the Roads Improvement Association, an organisation founded in 1886 by the Cyclists’ Touring Club and the National Cyclists’ Union.
The RIA wanted Britain’s dusty roads to be sealed with tarmac. The organisation pamphleted MPs and presented a strong case from “cads on casters” (the Lycra Lout equivalent of the late 19 Century, a reference to cyclists coined by uppercrust horse-riders) but the issue wasn’t taken seriously until adopted by the nascent ‘automobilism’ lobby.
Part of this lobby was the Self Propelled Traffic Association. It wasn’t self propelled in the sense we know today, it was in the sense of propelled by an engine, not a horse. A prominent cyclist sat on the SPTA’s council: E. R Shipton, secretary of the Cyclists’ Touring Club.
The SPTA was one of the organisations later to merge into the Automobile Association (AA), founded in 1905.
Cycling also shares some history with the AA. In effect, the organisation was helped into existence by cyclists. In March 1905 a fellow called Walter Gibbons wrote to Autocar magazine suggesting a Motorists’ Protection Association for the Prevention of Police Traps. Two other motorists replied saying arrangements had been made to patrol the Brighton road to warn motorists of said police traps. The first patrols went out in April 1905. Guess what they used as patrol vehicles? Yep, bicycles.
Within months, this informal arrangement of a “special staff of cyclists” was formalised into an organisation and it appointed a full-time secretary: it was called the Automobile Association.
[iTunes link for getting Chitty road tax video on iPods and iPhones].
‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ is one of the world’s most loved movies and is a lead-in to the video below. There’s then a critique of the DVLA’s 2002 TV advert for ‘road tax’, which used the original GEN11-registered car from the movie. Earlier DVLA TV ads for ‘road tax’ (grrrrr!) said ‘pay your road tax’. However, pre-1973 cars merely have to display a tax disc, they don’t pay for it. Ditto, today, for low CO2 Band A cars. So, the 2002 advert said ‘get your road tax’, perhaps a nod to the fact that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang didn’t have to pay car tax.
The car was built in 1967 and modelled to look like a 1920s car.
Nowadays, the DVLA’s TV adverts call VED by its most descriptive name: car tax. Hopefully there will be no backsliding to the days when Parker from the Thunderbirds could have his strings cut for “not paying road tax.”
In all probability, the ’save dosh’ tack would likely have more societal impact than the ’slow down’ tack.
A 2008 poll on Moneysavingexpert.com reported that, because of the credit crunch and petrol price hikes, 21 percent of the 6055 who completed the online poll were driving “less aggressively/more efficiently.” 12 percent were driving less.
Drivers who rev away from traffic lights and try to make tiny gains are not just rude and dumb, they’re also wasting lots of money. If it was pointed out to them that driving less aggressively could actually save them hundreds of pounds a year this might have a more dramatic effect on car speeds than any amount of ’speed kills’ promotions.
The average motoring citizen in the UK doesn’t give a stuff about the safety of pedestrians or cyclists. The trend towards more and more aggressive driving is not from just ‘Boy Racers’ but yummy mummies in their SUVs and nurses rushing to work.
Of course, motorists will continue to drive unthinkingly fast on city streets and the Government won’t create a publicity campaign explaining how efficient driving is a big money saver could be a real winner.
Moneysavingexpert.com is a HUGE website. It has 7 million unique visitors a month. Site owner Martin Lewis gets his many staff to send out a weekly email to 3+ million signed-up recipients. Most of the readers are Daily Mail types (just 1 percent read the Financial Times). Some already admit to being slow and careful “grand-dad drivers” but with such a massive readership, Lewis’ advice on driving more efficiently could be making more motorists slow down, improving safety for vulnerable roads users.
In this poll Lewis asked: “Have high fuel costs changed the way you drive?”
The price of petrol is at a record high. There are three main ways to cut the cost of fuel; you can drive more efficiently, up your car/van/bike’s efficiency via decluttering and other tricks, and use comparison sites to find cheaper fuel. Which of the following best describes changes you’ve made in the last two years?
The answers were: (emphasis my own)
I use the car less. 13% I drive less aggressively/more efficiently: 21% I’ve decluttered the car/made it more efficient. 1% I use the car less AND drive less aggressively. 12% (this is an interesting stat!) I drive less aggressively AND have decluttered the car. 6% I use the car less AND have decluttered it. 3% All the methods above. 13% I don’t drive. 5% I got rid of my car. 3% I made all these changes more than two years ago. 6% I’ve not changed at all. 17% (dimwits)
Sadly there was no answer ‘I now use my bicycle as well as my car.’
It’s possible to drive the same distance in the same time, yet use considerably less fuel. It’s simply about driving more smoothly to boost your fuel efficiency.
Accelerate gradually without over-revving. Speed up smoothly; when you press harder on the pedal more fuel flows, but you could get to the same speed using much less power – a good rule is to stay under 3,000 revs.
Think about road position. To do all this takes road awareness, so the more alert you are, the better you can plan ahead and move gradually.
In many ways this all comes down to one little rule of thumb…
Every time you put your foot on the accelerator, remember the harder you press the more fuel you spend.”
Read the rest of "DRIVERS: slow down to save £440 a year (and kill fewer cyclists & pedestrians)"...
Check the calendar. It’s NOT April 1st. The comments below from a former roads minister in Australia defy belief.
Carl Scully - now, thankfully, out of Government so out of harm’s way - was roads minister in New South Wales from 1996 to 2005. In a frank, forthright - and frightening - article in the motoring section of The Age newspaper he has become an overnight sensation. Are his views on cycling shared by other high-ups around the world? Is this how many policy makers, who say they want to promote cycling, really feel about it?
Amazingly, Scully puts it print what many ‘vehicular cyclists’ have long feared: that building cycle lanes isn’t for benefit of cyclists, it’s an excuse to get cyclists off the road (perhaps all roads), out of the way of cars, which could then be allowed to travel faster.
Scully also flags his ignorance by introducing the old chestnut about cyclists “not paying for roads,” probably the most used and abused anti-cyclist argument there is, and which, of course, is false because roads are paid for out of general taxation, and cyclists pay tax.
Despite a massive increase in funding, policy and delivery, the bicycle lobby groups remained at best sceptical, and at worst disappointingly hostile.
Perhaps this was because I made it quite clear that I believed riding a bike on a road was profoundly unsafe and that where I could I would shift them to off road cycle ways.
No one would suggest it is safe for pedestrians to be on the roadway, so why should it be any different if a pedestrian gets on a bike?
While individuals do take all sorts of risk voluntarily every day, either by necessity, or for the thrill of it, the road is quite a different environment.
The claim put to me often by cycling lobby groups, “that bicycles are non-motorised vehicular transport and have as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle”, was a claim I rejected firmly every time.
In rejecting the “we have a right to be on the road” mentality of cyclists and their lobby groups, I also took a measured and balanced policy position on how best to separate bicycles and vehicles from our roads over time.
Shifting cyclists off our roads or even banning them was neither fair nor entirely possible without providing off-road alternatives. I made a decision that all future major road infrastructure would be built with off-road cycle ways.
Without infrastructure alternative for cyclists, it may be necessary to regulate the manner and time in which they may use our roads.
But, the lone cyclist travelling in the middle of a vehicle lane at morning or evening peak hours is not only unsafe for the cyclist, but is often quite unsafe for motorists as they weave around them.
I would be happy to see a ban during morning and evening peak times. Time-of-day cycling would ensure that our roads during peak periods are for the sole use of vehicles and not for the use of cyclists.
Cyclists are unlikely to be happy being regulated to time-of-day cycling or to footpaths and off-road facilities.
But, before rejecting this option out of hand, they should consider not only how unsafe it is to be sharing the roadway with vehicles, but also acknowledge that it is motorists who pay fuel levies, tolls, registration and licence fees, as well as the huge cost of buying and running a motor vehicle.
Apart from a negligible amount of GST on their equipment, cyclists pay nothing towards the cost of the roads they wish to use and rely on motorists to fund most of the cost of cycling infrastructure.
Being more aware of this may make more cyclists a little more sensitive to the needs of the motoring public.
Avoiding Godwin’s Law
Scully won’t know this, but his views on getting cyclists off the roads has a long and inglorious history. Cycle campaigner John Franklin has a great online history of the cycle path; he shows that cycle path construction has often been financed - and certainly promoted - by the auto lobby.
Scully would no doubt be proud of such initiatives. He might be less enamoured of the other great promoters of compulsory use of cycle paths: the Nazi party. According to Godwin’s Law, to cite Nazis in a web story is tantamount to losing the debate but there’s a genuine reason for citing them in this case.
Franklin bases part of his history of cycle paths on ‘From Cycling Lanes to Compulsory Bike Path: Bicycle Path Construction in Germany, 1897 - 1940, Volker Briese, The 5th International Cycle History Conference, Cambridge, 1994.’
1920: Quote from first Dutch Roads Congress: “After all, the construction of bicycle paths along the larger roads relieves traffic along these roads of an extremely bothersome element: the cyclist.”
1920s: Mass construction of cycle tracks in Germany. Motive: to remove disturbances in the fast flow of motor vehicles caused by cyclists. Propaganda cited paths as pro-cyclist, and first use made of ’safety’ argument to get cyclists to use them. Many arguments between police and cyclists, the latter prefering to use the newly tarmaced roads.
1926:Cycle tracks made compulsory for cyclists in Germany.
1934: New German legal instruments to address “the problem of disciplining cyclists” who did not use cycle tracks. Bicycle associations outlawed by Nazi regime.
WWII: Use of cycle tracks made compulsory in Netherlands, under Nazi occupation.
Hopefully, the day will come when all cars, vans, and trucks are fitted with ‘Total Event Data Recording’ cameras. Footage of driving is looped over and over on SD cards: when there’s a smash the driver has to hand over the SD card. Sometimes the driver will be exhonerated. Other times the fault will be plain for all to see.
In the US, SmartCam is used by fleet operators to improve driver behaviour. With a forward-facing camera and one trained on the driver, every little transgression is recorded. Busted drivers have to take part in an education program. There must be lots of teachers on that program…
Interestingly, SmartCam is also used by families (rightly) worried about teen drivers. Watch this video for a whole series of roadside transgressions by teens: applying make-up, not paying attention, falling asleep, texting, and just being plain stupid.
DriveCam costs $1000 a year per vehicle. Not cheap. New to the UK are in-car cameras from Roadhawk and Smart Witness Journey Recorder. At about £300 these cameras are not much more expensive than a satnav and could help genuinely good drivers prove how good they are on the road. But, for 99 percent of the population, there would be a general fear that such a camera would capture normal driving, ie bad driving.
Here’s a video from a Roadhawk user who found out that his car had been taken for a spin - a 125mph spin - by the garage that was meant to be fixing a radiator leak:
Read the rest of "‘Black box’ video cameras should be fitted to all motor vehicles"...
There are a ton of ‘here’s my commute’ helmet-cam videos on YouTube. Some feature extreme examples of SMIDSY, sorry-mate-I-didn’t-see-you. If your commute is often spiced up with bad driving, consider fitting a small video camera. It’s what I did in the video above (also available on YouTube).
Of course, fitting a camera on your handlebars won’t capture the moment when some texting idjit hits you from behind but, for those with seeing-red problems, riding with a bike-cam may just calm you down. You can stay serene behind the lens, surreptitiously filming the rants and raves of the apoplectic motorist you’ve just dared to impugn.