Thursday, 1 August 2013

The nice way or the highway...

This week Scotland "pre-launched" a major new road safety campaign costing almost £500K which aims to boost mutual respect amongst all road users by asking them to be nice to each other.

the strapline on the blog is

Let’s face it we all have to share the roads. Until the world is a perfect place there are some simple rules we can all follow to make it safer for everyone out there. 

But don't those rules already exist in the Highway code? Why do we need an expensive new campaign and slogan? Just bloody enforce the existing rules and laws?

The campaign blog also states:

The campaign is designed to make the roads a more tolerant and harmonious place. We’re not under the impression the Nice Way Code is going to make the roads a wonderful place free of accidents or road rage overnight of course. It’s intended as the start of a conversation about how we treat our fellow roads users. It is there to support infrastructure and enforcement measures.

but seems to consign the whole campaign to a dismal failure in the second sentence.

The blog then waffles on about research with focus groups showing that all misdemeanors should be treated equally. All that seems to have happened is that they have clung onto existing prejudices without any real thought. I did post a comment asking if they would post the research, but although they replied, Nicewaycode completely ignored that point

Are that many cyclists really genuinely aggrieved about the odd person on a bike jumping a red light or occasionally riding on a pavement? I have done both, I suspect like most people riding bikes, because infrastructure has not been designed with any thought for cyclists. I don't get upset when I see a person riding a bike along a pavement. When I do ride along a path shared with pedestrians I slow, they usually give way and we pass the time of day & thank each other. A few idiots ignore me, but they are just as likely to ignore TV ads also.

Coincidentally, cyclists RLJing is one of the largest moans from drivers who of course never ever jump lights, and pavement cycling is a gripe from pedestrian groups.

The problem I have is that these appear to have been accepted at face value, and placed alongside drivers passing people on bikes with only a couple of inches to spare at high speed and not even mentioning all the other things drivers do like squeeze past at pinch points, pull out without looking, overtake and then turn left immediately. Which cyclists did the campaign designers speak to? A good proportion of drivers treat cyclists like something they trod in. At least the ones that hurl abuse have seen you! Other drivers are either texting or talking on the phone, fiddling with the sat nav, can't see cos of the sun but plough on regardless.

Mutual respect is rubbish. People riding bikes generally instinctively respect cars and HGVs etc cos if they don't they get hit and at best it hurts. At worst they are dead. All the driver will suffer is a bit of scratched paintwork. Dented if really unlucky.

Neil Grieg from the IAM is quoted as saying “If everyone on the roads can work together to reduce stress, give each other more room and stick to the rules"
So how exactly am I supposed to destress a driver, give them more room (sounds like ride closer to the gutter) & stick to the rules. Sounds like some subtle victim blaming to me.

I am not one-sided. I walk, cycle and drive like most people who cycle. Most drivers though do not cycle as well and a good proportion don't seem to walk very far anymore.

The real problem is the personality transplant that seems to affect a lot of people when they get behind a wheel. The Chief Constable of Cleveland police made the following quote here about drivers causing obstructions for disabled people.

“Some drivers have a completely different mindset when behind the wheel of a car. They would be considerate enough to hold a door open for a vulnerable or disabled person but think nothing of parking across a pavement and forcing them to walk on a busy road.”

 This is what needs to be broken, not some naive half arsed flowery campaign asking people to be nice to each other

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