The frustration is going to kill someone

Most mornings I drive across country and pick up the A420 trunk road, where I make a right-turn (head west).

If you’re not too familiar with this corner of the countryside, the A420 trunk road is the only arterial road that connects the city of Oxford with Swindon (and with the city of Bristol, beyond).

Significant stretches of the A420 are national speed limit dual-carriageway (70mph).

Other parts of the road are national speed limit single-carriageway (60mph).

In a few places the speed limit is lowered to 50mph.

The four-mile stretch in to Swindon is that – 50mph, single lane traffic in both directions.

Except.

Except most days I get to a point on that road where, even at 6.50am, the traffic suddenly bunches right up because the speed has dropped to…

13mph.

Thirteen. Miles. Per Hour.

Why?

Why is the entire westwards traffic flow suddenly reduced from 50mph to 13mph?

Because of one of these:

posed by a model

 

Well, when I say ‘because of one of these’, what I really mean is ‘because we encounter one of these being ridden on the road’.

The tricycle, being significantly wider than a bicycle, coupled with the single lines of traffic in both directions, means that the humble motorist – every single one of us – have to slow down because of one person riding a tricycle.

Tricyclist.

Whatever he’s called.

So, to sum up, the daily traffic blockage, being one man on his tricycle, reduces the flow of traffic on a major arterial trunk road from 50mph to strangulation point.

This guy adversely affects the routine journey of several hundred motorists.

Every. Single. Day.

My question is simple.

What position does a person’s mental compass have to be pointing at, for such antisocial behaviour to become acceptable?

Freewheeling

Policy Officer for CTC (formerly: Cyclists’ Touring Club) and one of our favourite nutters, Chris Peck has popped on to our radar again.

Chris last came to our attention in July 2008 when he claimed (and I quote) ‘cyclists need different rules to every other form of road user’.

Mr Peck has been speaking about the – just released – figures that state there has been a 3% increase in cyclist accidents in the last year.

He has said, and I quote, ‘… since neither pedestrian nor cyclist casualties are falling as fast as motorist casualties, we need to do more to tackle bad driving and improve conditions for the road users outside cars.’

Really?

No.

Fucking really?

How about we make it compulsory for all cyclists to take a theory and a practical test?

Because, frankly, given the standard of road use that I see the vast majority of cyclists executing every single day, the best way of improving conditions for road users outside cars is to teach the cyclists some fucking common sense.

And some rules.

And punishing the shit out of the fucking cyclists who are a menace to everyone else out there.

Every single day I drive in to Oxford I have to take avoiding action to miss cyclists.

I’ll say that again.

*I have to take avoiding action to miss cyclists*

One of these days I’m not going to be quick enough.

Barking mad

Why is it that our Government is playing with a proposal that will mean that all dogs will have to be insured – on the off-chance that they cause some kind of damage or kill someone?

And yet cyclists, who we know do cause damage and have killed people, are not going to face the same requirement?

Answers on a bent piece of logic please…

On why cyclists must be compelled to take a test

I have a full motorbike licence.

In order to get my motorbike licence I had to take a rigorous theory test and a practical – on the road in real traffic – examination. Passing that exam enabled me to get a restricted licence. This was only valid for one year and could not be renewed ad infinitum. The restricted licence also limited me to the size of vehicle I could drive on the roads.

After passing the restricted motorcycle test I went on to complete full motorcycle training and pass a very stringent practical examination. This allows me to ride motorcycles on the road system.

The aim of that test was to ensure I knew the rules/laws of the road and that I could navigate my way through the road system, aware of others around me, control my vehicle in various traffic flows and knew what the correct thing to do was at all times.

I have a full car licence.

I was required to take another theory test, even though I’d already passed the theory test for my motorbike licence. I was also required to pass a driving test, even though I had already passed a test for my motorcycle licence.

The aim of *that* test was to ensure I knew the rules/laws of the road and that I could navigate my way through the road system, aware of others around me, control my vehicle in various traffic flows and knew what the correct thing to do was at all times.

I have an HGV licence.

Before I could even get in to this I needed to have a private medical examination. Then, once again, I needed to pass both theoretical and practical examinations before I was awarded a licence that entitles me to drive multi-axle vehicles capable of carrying simply staggering weights

And yet again, the aim of that test was to ensure I knew the rules/laws of the road and that I could navigate my way through the road system, aware of others around me, control my vehicle in various traffic flows and knew what the correct thing to do was at all times.

Each test has given me an enhanced perspective on the limits and limitations on all other road traffic.

And yet cyclists have, by default, no perspective on the limits and limitations of all other forms of road traffic, or even their own form of road traffic, because cyclists are not required to take any kind of benchmarking examination.

It’s staggering that cyclists are not required to display any degree of theoretical or practical road knowledge. They can just get on a bike and weave their merry way out in to the busy rush-hour traffic of any village, town or city.

Clearly, this is not right.

I’m not whining that I’ve had to do it three times and it’s not fair; I’m simply saying that to allow anyone to take up a form of road traffic and enable them to mix and mingle with other forms of road traffic with absolutely no provenance of their awareness of Traffic Law (including rights of way, rules of the road, stopping distances – of other vehicles – lane control and signal awareness and, amazingly, not even a basic sight test) is beyond comprehension.

This situation is very clearly wrong.

The argument that cycling bodies use, at this point in the conversation, is that the vast majority of cyclists already have car licences and so…

And so what?

What does it prove if *the majority* have a car licence? And where are the statistics to back up this fatuous statement?

The answers to these questions are so painfully obvious that the cycling fraternity prefer not to face up to the inescapable, so I’ll do it here for them:

None of the cyclists on the British road system have ever passed a *legally mandated* cycling test.

Let me explain.

If all other forms of road user are required to take a test *that determines the fitness of that person to use the road network*, why are cyclists exempt?

Motorcycle tests, car tests and even HGV tests are not about maintaining those vehicles, they are about determining the knowledge-level and the mental ability of the candidate *to use the road network*.

I don’t know what it is amongst the cycling fraternity that brings down the shutters in their minds that makes them unable to see the logical – particularly these days, when cycles are capable of speeds of in excess of 30mph, a world so very different from the 2mph days of the early ‘boneshaker’ – that every form of road user is potentially lethal.

And therefore all road users need to be tested *on that form of road use* to determine their knowledge level and mental ability and physical capability to cope with that form of road use within the rules of the road.

Why is it so very hard for some people to see the inescapable logic?

Why do they cling so tightly to a legal loophole that arose over a hundred years ago, and a loophole that has not been adjusted to take into account the situation we now face each and every day on the roads?

If I am required to prove how well I know the rules of the road *and* how well I can navigate through the road system, correctly, safely and legally three times – motorbike, car, HGV – why are cyclists not required to prove *they* know the rules of the road and that *they* are capable of navigating through the road system correctly, safely and legally?

As a trainee motorcyclist I rode out on the roads under the watchful eye of my instructor. We were in touch via two-way radio and if he even thought I was going astray he would bellow loud enough to make my head ring.

Why aren’t cyclists placed under a similar scheme?

Until the cycling lobby can conclusively prove that mandatory testing would yield zero benefit, the logical position must be that the compulsory training of all cyclists to a national minimum standard would improve road safety and reduce road accidents.

I await their proof. But I won’t be holding my breath.