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Tuesday 21 May 2013

A Road Safety Rant

I apologise now, this one isn't funny. But as the wife of a man who cycles to work, and who hears of the abuse he is subjected to on an almost daily basis, this is an issue close to my heart.
Back in the days when we had a motorhome, we loaded up our bikes and set off on a tour of the Netherlands for one of the best holidays of our lives. Firstly the Dutch are lovely people and made us feel very welcome. Secondly, cycling over there is a joy. In many places the cyclist has their own separate road. Where they don't, they are treated with enormous respect and care by other road users. It was a revelation.
In utter contrast is the story that broke today of a young woman who tweeted rather gleefully that she had knocked a cyclist off his bike and that he had no right to be on the road because he doesn't pay road tax. It's an attitude that is depressingly common in the UK.
Of course she's obviously wrong, in more ways than one. To begin with, nobody pays road tax. There is no such thing. What she refers to is actually Vehicle Excise Duty, which is levied against a vehicle for the amount of pollution it creates. A cycle creates no pollution, therefore no VED is levied against it, while a car or truck pollutes quite heavily, therefore they are charged accordingly. That money isn't used for road maintenance. Instead, anybody who pays council tax, whether or not they own a car, truck, cycle or carthorse, is paying for the upkeep of our roads. And everyone is entitled to use the road.
Furthermore, and far more troublingly, she and the rest of the "#Bloodycyclist" brigade seem to forget that cyclists are flesh and blood, human beings, people, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. Would that foolish young woman be so proud of herself if she had seriously injured the cyclist, or worse?
Rant over, normal service resumes in the next post.

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