Two-wheeled confusion

I saw a smart scooter today.

It was in Royal Blue, with the Union Jack boldly painted across the front.

A scooter in Shanghai

I mean it was a big paintjob, not that it was a bold decision to paint the UJ on a Shanghai scooter.

Obv.

The thing that made this particular scooter stand out, though, wasn’t the trim.

What made it stand out was the way it was being confidently, nay, assertively ridden, through the wall of pedestrians, as they went about their business.

It seems to be accepted practice here, that scooters, like pushbikes, and electric bikes, can thread their way, at speed, through the near impenetrable wall of footists.

Yes, it is a word.

Do keep up.

Anyway.

I reckon the reason why the cyclists, mopedists, and electric bikeists use the pavements, is because duelling with pedestrians is considerably less life-threatening than duelling with the wall of metal, that slowly/speedingly grinds/darts its way through the city streets.

None of the two-wheeled brigade have any lights.

This makes an evening constitutional somewhat more of a challenge than back in the UK.

I managed to get some photographic evidence.

 

Shanghai pavement-riding scooterist

Shanghai pavement-riding scooterist

Shanghai pavement-riding scooterist

Shanghai pavement-riding scooterist

The numbers do not lie

On 1st December 2014, between the dark hours of 6.30pm and 9pm, Thames Valley Police checked 110 cyclists in Oxford’s High Street.

How many £50 fixed penalty notices were issued for not having any lights?

Ninety seven.

That’s 97.

Scandalous.

And let’s remember where cyclists often put the blame for their accidents.

A £50 penalty is obviously insufficient.

Because, if you read the report, all 97 of these morons can get away without paying the £50 penalty.

Perhaps if the fine were £500?

And there was no loophole that got the law-breakers out of it?

Source

Why cyclists should pay (road) tax

Whenever I say something that tries to highlight the horrendous inequalities between cyclists and other road users, money – inevitably – raises its head.

“Cyclists contribute nothing to the road tax-based economy, because cycling is carbon neutral” (or similar) is put forward as the argument for this lack of fiscal contribution.

Another argument often put forward is that Road Tax is dead.

These are two of the most egregious, wildly inaccurate arguments ever voiced aloud.

And there are three fatal structural faults to these statements:

  1. Cyclists use prepared surfaces. In all major towns and cities, cyclists use tarmac surfaces. Roads or special cyclepaths (or pavements). It doesn’t matter which surface cyclists are using. The bottom line is that these surfaces are massively NOT carbon neutral. These surfaces are constructed out of mining and manufacturing processes that are pure environmental destruction. Cyclists use these hideously costly surfaces. Cyclists are quick to complain about potholes in the road or the pavement or the cyclepath. But cyclists seem unable to comprehend the overwhelming deficit of carbon neutrality that cyclists contribute to the global environmental economy, by using them.
  2. The average modern bicycle is the output of a long and an enormously polluting set of manufacturing processes (and we are not even including supply-chain miles). The not-icing on this not-cake of not-carbon-neutrality is that, to help keep modern cycle frames as lightweight as possible, a significant amount of carbon fibre is used in their manufacture. The production of carbon fibre is one of the most polluting processes known to mankind. Yet cyclists also overlook this not-carbon-neutral state of affairs.
  3. Road tax (I am often told) no longer exists. This is not strictly true. Changing the name of Road Tax to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and charging a banded structure of fee against different types of cars, does not make Road Tax not exist, and here’s why. Motorbikes. Only cars, buses and lorries pay VED based on their emissions. And yet motorbikes pay road tax based on their cubic capacity (CC). If we had an even playing field, and if motorcycles were subject to the same taxation scheme as cars, most motorbikes would pay little – or no – road tax. For example, the Toyota Aygo or the Citroen C1 are both class B cars, on the VED scale. Being Class B means that the owner of either of these cars pays just just £20/year, based on their CO2 production of 139g. My Honda VFR costs £78/year to tax, yet it produces a mere 16.5g of CO2. Or, to compare. My VFR costs four times as much, to tax, than a class B car does, yet it produces the tiniest amount of CO2.

 

So there it is. A practical demonstration, using three strands of clearly defined reasoning, that there is actually no sound, logical, or financial reason, why bicycles should not be subject to an annual road tax.

Contributing no money, using everything on the planet

Contributing no money, using everything on the planet

Cyclists: the case for changing the law

I am currently working in the centre of Oxford.

Because it is the middle of summer, Oxford is full of tourists. And, naturally enough, many of the tourists are looking to get around the city and see the sights.

Some of the tourists are choosing to use bicycles to meet this requirement.

On Wednesday, last week, I was walking through the city centre, and passed a shop that hires bicycles out.

Three people were mounting their just-hired bicycles.

I watched.

I watched as they wobbled their way in to the path of an oncoming bus.

I watched as the bus was forced to stop, disrupting traffic (and other cyclists!), whilst the wobbly tourists attempted to make their way down the street.

I watched as one of them fell off, in the road.

I watched as the third cyclist stopped to help the fallen friend – but first she dismounted her bicycle, and placed it on its side in the bus lane.

I watched as all three remounted, and cycled through a pedestrian-only precinct.

I watched as another bicycle hirer mounted his bike and cycled the wrong way up a one-way street.

Not at all selfish. Cunt.

Not at all selfish. Cunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here are some facts about cyclists:

  • They use the road free of charge
  • They mix with cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes (and other cyclists)
  • They need take no tests
  • They are not even required to demonstrate they know the basics of the Highway Code
  • They are uninsured

How can it be right for uninsured, untested, road-users to mix and mingle with heavy traffic?

Where is the sense in this?

The argument for compulsory cycling tests

The law that allows any person to take unsupervised control of a form of transport, and permits this person to mingle and mix with pedestrians, with cyclists, with motorcyclists, with cars, with vans, with buses, with rigid-chassis lorries and with multi-axled articulated lorries, in an unchallenged way, is broken beyond flaw.

There is absolutely no sense behind this decision – not within the context of our over-congested, badly maintained, road system.

Let’s look at an example of a different – but broadly similar – form of transport, and the standards that those who wish to use this broadly similar form of transport have to attain, before they are allowed on the British road system.

Before a motorcyclist can access the British road network s/he must, under the direct access scheme:

  • engage the examiner in conversation to prove a certain degree of intelectual capacity
  • pass a rudimentary sight test
  • pass two theory tests
  • pass two practical tests
  • by law, keep their motorcyclie roadworthy and subject to an annual inspection, and also
  • be fully insured

Only when all of these standards have been met, can s/he join the traffic.

A bicyclist is not required to have any theoretical knowledge. A bicyclist is not required to have any prior practical ability. A bicyclist has no eye test. A bicyclist is not even checked for mental capability.

Yet a bicyclist can leap straight out in to the traffic, theoretical standards unchecked, practical knowledge unvalidated.

In addition to these failings, a bicyclist has no requirement to be fully insured.

The argument that the cycling lobby puts forward, as a defence against the well-reasoned, highly-logical argument for compulsory testing is, ‘Ah, but most cyclists are car drivers!’

There are just two flaws with this defence.

  • What does the twisted logic behind this statement even mean? Where is the justification in this risible defence? What have people who utter such claptrap got against standards? Here’s how it works for all of us. I hold a car licence. I hold a motorcycle licence. I hold an HGV licence. Each one can only be gained by passing a dedicated test that I meet at the very least an acceptable minimum set of standards for each form of transport. The cycling lobby seem to want bicycles to be seen, for lobbying purposes, as a form of transport. Yet the cycling lobby seem to want to be exempt from the same standards-based test requirements that the operators of all other forms of transport must achieve.
  • Most motorcyclists are car drivers too. But the rigorous standards that the DSA impose on motorcyclists are not waived ‘because they are car drivers’. In fact, the motorbike test is much more stringent than the car test. Most bus drivers, most lorry drivers are also car drivers. And yet they too must sit standards-based tests for each additional form of transport.

The situation seems to boil down to two simple statements:

  1. For all road users, competence, capacity and capability tests exist for a reason. Except if one is a bicyclist.
  2. For all road users, mandatory insurance exists for a reason. Except if one is a bicyclist.

The more time I spend travelling the country’s roads, the more horrible things that I see, the more compelling it becomes that putting untested, uninsured bicycle riders on to the road system, alongside pedestrians, alongside other cyclists, alongside motorcyclists, alongside cars, alongside vans, alongside buses, alongside rigid-chassis lorries, and alongside multi-axled articulated lorries, must be halted.

Standards exist for a reason.

To allow just one group of road users to not have an individually-validated set of standards is ridiculous.

And dangerous beyond measure.

Bicyclists must be subject to mandatory standards-based testing.

Bicyclists must be required to be fully insured.

Bicyclists must be properly regulated.

And the penalties for cyclists who transgress laws must be raised to the same levels as the penalties of other road users.

Only then, when these standards benchmarks have been achieved, and are being rigidly enforced, will the roads – and pavements be safer places.

Safer for everybody.

Bradley Wiggins v the Flat Earth Society of Cyclists

I am glad that Bradley Wiggins (winner of the 2012 Tour de France and the Olympic Gold Medal for cycling) has called for it to be made compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets.

I am also glad that Bradley has said that cyclists should not wear iPods or use phones whilst cycling.

We just need to go a little further, though.

We also need to establish a three-part national cycling competency test (theory and double-practical), based on the same Theory, Mod 1 and Mod 2 tests that motorcyclists have to pass.

And, of course, we need to have compulsory insurance for cyclists.

But the flat-earth mentality of the national cycling lobbyist organisation CTC, and its spokesman Chris Peck, has sprung in to action.

Mr Peck (and therefore CTC) has said that making helmets for cyclists compulsory ‘would be counter-productive’, and would be likely to have an overall damaging effect.

I’ve written about Chris Peck before. He’s a twat, obv.

I seem to remember exactly the same flat-earth arguments were voiced when the compulsory introduction of car seat belts was first put forward.

‘Compulsory seat belts will cause more deaths and injuries than they will prevent’, said the moaning minnies.

And these days no-one but a mentalist would drive a car without their seat belt fastened.

Except, maybe, Chris Peck of the CTC.

And a similar argument was put forward by some motorcyclists, that the compulsory use of helments for motorcyclists would somehow cause more injuries than they would prevent.

Maybe Chris Peck agrees with that statement too, who knows?

So let’s all just agree that whatever comes out of CTC in particular, and out of Chris Peck’s mouth in particular, is just a big steaming pile of nonsense.

And we should ignore them.

Go, Bradley Wiggins, go.

On the point of compulsory helmets for cyclists – as with your recently victorious time in France – you are on the right track.

Chris Peck and CTC plainly are not.