A law unto themselves?

I am not alone in being somewhat infuriated by the announcement of a review into whether a new law is needed to tackle dangerous cycling.

However, today I thought about it a bit more logically.

Now I’m even more infuriated….because I find myself agreeing with the government.

Hear me out here.

I have yet to hear anyone, cyclist or non-cyclist, defend the actions of Charlie Alliston. Riding a bike at speed without brakes is a stupid thing to do. For that matter, riding a bike without brakes at any speed is altogether a stupid thing to do. Unless you are riding it on a track where everybody knows that is what you are riding.

I completely agree that Charlie Alliston should have been convicted and jailed for his actions.

I completely agree that is is absurd to have to rely on a law from 1861 in order to convict and jail him.

So, I have to agree that a review into the law relating to cycling is needed.

So, why are all of us cyclists finding the announcement of such a review so infuriating?

Because we are threatened every day by motorists.

Because, despite the perfectly adequate laws which could prosecute those who threaten us, prosecutions are rare.

On Friday, a car pulled out to overtake me despite the fact that they were already indicating to turn left. I had to brake hard as they cut right across the front of me. The driver behind me felt the need to respond to this by beeping his horn and gesticulating whilst driving around 1cm from my back wheel.

This was one of the closer calls I have had but the behaviour of the two drivers did not surprise me.

As cyclists, I think we have come to expect threatening behaviour from drivers. I expect shouting, gesticulating, close passes and other aggressive behaviour from drivers (strangely, especially if they are driving an audi – is it just me?).

All cyclists expect this.

Many of us are very vocal about our experiences on the roads yet nobody is calling for an ‘urgent review’ into how the laws relating to dangerous driving are implemented.

More worrying yet is the fact that motorists expect to be able to behave like this towards cyclists with no consequences.

After all, cyclists don’t pay ‘road tax‘.

Nobody has the right to knowingly endanger other people.

It should not matter how you choose to travel, you should have the right to travel safely. You should have the expectation that other road users will treat you with respect. You also have the responsibility to treat others with respect.

So yes, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with the government that a review of the laws relating to cycling is needed.

But, a review of the implementation of the laws relating to dangerous driving is also needed.

Urgently.

 

4 thoughts on “A law unto themselves?”

  1. Interesting points. You say that Charlie Alliston had no brakes, which isn’t true, as he could brake by slowing down his pedalling. His stopping distance was roughly equal to a car’s (according to the dodgy figures from the prosecution), and he was much lighter than a car. So in most respects he was safer than a car on the road. And if a car had been going 18mph and a pedestrian had walked out in front of them and been hit, then we all know the driver would not have been prosecuted, and the blame firmly placed on the pedestrian. Not saying that what he did was fine: just that he ended up in jail, whereas a driver would not have been.

    In my opinion there isn’t a great need for a review into laws for cycling. Why does it matter when a law was written? It still works. Alliston was sent to prison. Yes it would be nice to have a shiny new law, but it’s a matter of priorities.

    There is so little time that the government hasn’t completed its review of how driving offences are treated: something that has been promised for three years. Given what caused the majority of the death and destruction on the roads, it’s there that the focus should lie.

  2. Not sure that just because a law is old, that it is needs to be reviewed. The courts also rely on sections of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 when charging someone with Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) or Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), both of which are common offences.

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