Feb 132023

(‘bad’ language ahead)


Reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph reduces the fatality of hitting a pedestrian or cyclist from 40% to 5%. Slower speeds are fundamentally safer on crowded urban roads, and small country lanes – everyone has more time to react and even in the worst case where a collision occurs, the accident is more survivable.

There are those who claim the lower speeds will slow them down – tough! That continually looking at the speedometer is more dangerous – get used to lower speeds. All of the excuses I have seen amount to selfishness.

And similarly the opposition to prioritising vulnerable road users – letting pedestrians cross at junctions, giving cyclists at least 1.5m of space when overtaking, etc. all amount to motorists’ entitlement. You aren’t more important, you don’t pay for the roads, and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians takes priority to your convenience.

Who Are You Looking At?
Feb 092022

The Highway Code changes that went into effect on the 29th January seems to have caused a bit of a palava amongst drivers. Except this is probably a noisy minority as most are either :-

The majority are either completely oblivious to the changes or assume that nothing significant is changing (and they’re not entirely wrong).

And the majority of the remainder are probably accepting of the changes.

When you come down to the changes, they’re mostly fairly minor. The biggest change is making explicit a hierarchy of priorities based on the vulnerability of road users – pedestrians are the most vulnerable so have the highest priority, etc. Funnily enough very little protest against that has been heard, although some of the other objections do indicate an unconscious bias in favour of driver priority; perhaps assisted by the widespread myth that motorists pay for roads. Interestingly whilst there a number of changes for cyclists, these have attracted very little attention – it seems that Highway Code changes are only controversial when they might inconvenience car drivers.

The most noise has been about the change requiring motorists to allow pedestrians to proceed when waiting to cross at a junction – for example when turning from a major road into a minor road, the motorist should wait to allow the pedestrian crossing that minor road. This is not as big a change as it seems as motorists were already required to wait when pedestrians were already crossing. What happens when a pedestrian doesn’t choose to cross? Presumably because they were wool-gathering, or their assistance dog is trained to wait until the road is clear. Will this result in permanently stuck motorists causing city-wide traffic chaos? Well, “giving priority” doesn’t mean “wait forever” – you would stop, wait for 10s or so, and then proceed slowly.

Those protesting make a big fuss about how stopping before turning may result in them being rear-ended by other motorists who aren’t expecting traffic to stop. There’s two problems with this – motorists already stop at turnings to allow pedestrians to cross, and motorists should already be prepared for vehicles in front of them to stop unexpectedly. Fact is, in every accident where a car is rear-ended, the motorist behind is the one at fault.

Lastly there is the new rules regarding cyclists – specifically the rule allowing cyclists to ride in the centre of the lane. Funnily enough this isn’t really new although it wasn’t explicitly stated before – there was never a rule that cyclists had to segregate themselves into the gutter risking life and limb risking the gutter pot-holes. But you would imagine from the reaction of some drivers that this new rule was allowing cyclists to use shotguns against car drivers they’ve been so up in arms about it. It is not as if they are supposed to do it all the time – just on slower roads and to increase safety.

But no, these drivers imagine roads are there for car drivers exclusively and anything that inconveniences them must be prohibited. There are special roads like that – motoreways.

It’s Round