…is paved with good intentions – as we all know.
The recent changes to this country’s Highway Code were intended to improve road safety for the most vulnerable road users but it seems that they will only cause confusion at best, resentment in between and accidents at worst.
As a driver I disagree with the new requirement to give way to pedestrians crossing a junction you’re turning into. In principle the car driver should be slowing for the junction anyway so stopping shouldn’t be an issue, the problem is that there will be, at some point, a car following where the driver will either not want to stop, is following too closely, or not paying attention and will, not expecting a car to stop on the main road, run into the back of the stopped car. If this rule applies to roundabouts as well where people often don’t actually stop before joining then I can see many t-boned vehicles blocking roundabout entrances before long.
I’ve said before that I am both a cyclist and car driver and I admit that not all cyclists follow the highway code. I get just as annoyed as anyone else at cyclists riding on the road in the dark, in dark clothing without lights and expecting drivers to see them, I get annoyed with cyclists who don’t indicate, who just dart across the road etc – mainly because they are the ones held up as an excuse for car drivers to act aggressively towards all cyclists, not give us room, sound their horns at us etc. As it is the new rules will make no difference, those who break them will always have the attitude of “I’ll do what I want, nobody’s telling me what to do or how fast I can go…”
Since the new rules have come in I’ve had a white Fiat 500 sat behind me at a junction revving and edging forward to get me to pull out in front of moving traffic then another, or the same, Fiat pull out of a junction in front of me, causing me to brake sharply and two vans passing within inches of me, the last one almost pushing me onto the pavement – all the drivers no doubt thought it was funny and in most cases pedestrians nearby looked at me like it was my fault, that I shouldn’t have been there, which typifies the attitude these days.
As has been said recently the newspapers haven’t helped much by implying that drivers will be fined for opening their door with the wrong hand – it’s a recommendation in the highway code to use the hand furthest from the door, so you look in the wing mirror – and screaming and crying that cyclists will all be riding down the middle of the road and stopping everyone getting to work. Sensationalist headlines sell papers and get websites ad revenue don’t they, even if they stir up aggravation.
Demands for licence plates, insurance, road tax etc, on the grounds of road damage, accidents etc is just sour grapes. The true source of the resentment that some drivers hold towards cyclists is, I believe, that firstly they are being delayed by the slower bike, their journey taking all of a few seconds longer; secondly their egos can’t stand not being in control – they want to drive at the speed they want to and they’re being prevented from doing so – when a car slows them down they can’t say “F***in’ car drivers, should be banned from the roads, oh, wait, er…” Thirdly there is a simmering jealousy that they don’t look so good in lycra, no sorry, I mean they can’t get round, and in-between, stationary traffic. Finally is an arrogant sense of entitlement, that it’s their road, that roads were invented for motor cars, to the degree that many drivers feel that roads shouldn’t be used by cyclists or pedestrians at all – well as for the ownership I think some Romans laid claim to that with their carts and chariots a long while since.