This entry was posted on Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 at 6:33 pm and is filed under Bad cycling, Bad motoring, Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Cyclist always ride on pavements, hey? There are now so many cars parked on pavements there’s precious little room for us to ride on them.
Cars lord it over roads and want dominion over pavements, too.
It shouldn’t be this way. Minister for cycling, walking and local transport Stormin’ Norman recently gave local councils greater leeway to get motorists off pavements but there’s little evidence motormyopiac councils have any intention of using their powers.
A Department for Transport press release from February said:
Vehicles parked on pavements can cause particular problems for people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and those with pushchairs. The Minister has today written to councils prompting them to use their powers to prevent parking on the pavement where it is a problem.
The Department for Transport has given all councils in England permission to use signs to indicate a local pavement parking ban. Until now councils have had to gain special signs authorisation from Government each time they want to put a pavement parking ban in place.
While in some circumstances pavement parking is unavoidable - for example in narrow residential roads with no off-street parking - the Government believes that in many cases it can be avoided. Pavement parking is completely banned in London.
Now, discounting the statements “where it is a problem” (it is a problem everywhere) and “in some circumstances pavement parking is unavoidable” (no, it’s not, shift the parking elsewhere, that’s what powers-that-be can do, they have, you know, power) it has to be said that Normie gets it spot on when he says:
“Parking on the pavement can be selfish and dangerous… If a vehicle is blocking the pavement then people often have no choice but to walk in the road where they are at much greater risk of being involved in an accident. [Norm - this is no accident].
“Most drivers are considerate and do not park on the pavement unless it is permitted or necessary. However, there is a selfish minority who do not use their common sense and dump their cars wherever it suits them without a second thought for others.
But selfish minority? Nope. Pavement parking is totally and utterly endemic, hardwired into a significant number of UK drivers, possibly even the majority. The justification? “I’m getting my static car out of the way of moving cars” and “I don’t want those moving cars to hit my static car.”
Well, just tough luck, go find a multi-storey car park or a road where you’re not causing an obstruction. Road too narrow so you have to park on the pavement? Again, find another road.
Unbelievably, even though cyclists are not allowed to ride on pavements, cars are not normally disobeying any laws when they park on them (footway parking bans are applied locally and have to be accompanied by signs, there’s no national ban on pavement parking). The offence is driving on the footway, but if the police don’t see the driver committing the offence the driver can’t be nabbed for leaving a car on the pedestrian’s part of the highway.
Clearly, this is a stupid law, mocked mercilessly on ‘Pedestrian Liberation’, a wonderful anti pavement parking blog. The section on pavement parking and the law is especially good.
Thing is, motorists want cyclists to get off “their roads” and on to pavements, which is never the best place for cyclists. Here’s a interesting concept from ‘KeepCalm’, submitted to a pre-election ideas farm created by the Torygraph:
Pedestrians and cyclists can mix at slow speeds but at anything above 10mph cyclists can pose quite a hazard, even though we’re nimble, and think we can dip and dodge around. We very possibly can but only if pedestrians stick to the straight and narrow, which is not standard practice and nor should it be.
The headline at the top of my blog posting is an old joke, and probably dates to when the first road safety posters used the ‘Keep death off the roads’ message.
The ‘Keep death off the roads’ graphics inserted into the pix above and below date from the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1945, the UK Government worried at the carnage on the roads - but not so worried it ever truly chastised motorists - put out this animated short via the Ministry of Information, Keep Death off the Roads.
It’s typical of its time because it blamed the victim rather than tried to slow the motorist (see, nothing changes).
Mrs Smith walks out on to a road with a shopping bag and is nearly sliced in half by a speeding driver. There’s no admonishing of the driver, just the pedestrian.
“Look out there! That lovely meal she was dreaming of cooking for the family is gone, but she was very lucky not to have been injured. Do remember: crossing a road needs all your concentration and care.”
Later in the short, a child - Johnny - is mocked for playing in the road when he could have been playing on the pavement or a playground. A cyclist is mocked for riding no-handed and then running into the child.
“A bicycle isn’t at all under control when ridden freehand. What would you do in an emergency? You see - the unexpected does happen, and you are just as much to blame as Johnny.”
Quite right, but why isn’t the motorist ticked off too?
There’s a chance in the next frame. A guy getting off a bus, doesn’t look, and gets squished by a speeding car. Speeding motorist is ticked off this time? ‘Course not, it’s wholly the pedestrian’s fault:
“The bus was late and now you’re in a hurry. A look to the right and a look to the left takes only two seconds more. But now it will be some weeks before you can attend to the urgent business.”
So, it appears that pedestrians will survive if they look out for speeding motorists when crossing roads and, really, should stick to the pavements and not cross at all.
But, fast forward to today, amd pedestrians are not safe on pavements, either. 40 or so pedestrians are killed on footways or verges each year (up to 400 are killed on roads each year). By motorists.
Despite this clear and present danger, the Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom wants the law brought up to date to make sure cyclists who kill pedestrians can be charged with the offence of ‘death by dangerous cycling’. Cyclists killing pedestrians is an extremely rare event, in some years there are no fatalities at all and when pedestrians are killed by cyclists it tends to be after cyclists hit pedestrians on roads.
In two recent cases when cyclists hit and killed pedestrians, the cyclists were jailed (motorists often get off scot free). Leadsom’s ten minute rule bill is classic ‘why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam’. She would be better off trying to get her colleagues to change the law on pavement parking. That would make a real difference to road safety.
Or perhaps seek to beef up laws against motorists who kill? It sounds as though this MP doesn’t read what happens in court cases where dangerous motoring is in the dock. She told her local paper:
“Imagine if a motorist had mounted the pavement and killed a school girl as she chatted to her friends. The motorist would have felt the full force of the law and there would have been a national outcry if such a person had walked away with a £2,000 fine.”