Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Why a terrible verdict shows how the ASA is wrong

Today's been a bad day for cycling in the UK.

First we had the ruling by the ASA about 5 (yes five) complaints about one of the Nicewaycode adverts, which we all thought had been put to death with a bicycle pump though it's heart to prevent resurrection.

If you haven't read the ruling (surely everyone reading this will have by now) it's here

The advert is below

ASA upheld the compalints about the final scene where where the cyclist is being overtaken by a car.
The car is not over the lines. At the very end of the clip it can be seen that the rider is riding to avoid potholes.

ASA ruled that:

We noted that the cyclist in the final scene was not wearing a helmet or any other safety attire, and appeared to be more than 0.5 metres from the parking lane. We also acknowledged that the cyclist was shown in broad daylight on a fairly large lane without any traffic.
We understood that UK law did not require cyclists to wear helmets or cycle at least 0.5 metres from the kerb. However, under the Highway Code it was recommended as good practice for cyclists to wear helmets. Therefore, we considered that the scene featuring the cyclist on a road without wearing a helmet undermined the recommendations set out in the Highway Code. Furthermore, we were concerned that whilst the cyclist was more than 0.5 metres from the kerb, they appeared to be located more in the centre of the lane when the car behind overtook them and the car almost had to enter the right lane of traffic. Therefore, for those reasons we concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.

ASA have banned the advert and have imposed the following on Cycling Scotland

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Cycling Scotland that any future ads featuring cyclists should be shown wearing helmets and placed in the most suitable cycling position.

A few issues with that ruling

  • Firstly what the feck is a "parking lane" there are no lane markings in the clip other than the central one. Do they mean the pavement?
  • ASA think that no cyclists should be more than 0.5 metres from the edge of the road. That's about 18 inches in old money. Or not much more than the diagonal distance across most laptop screens. 
  • The argument about helmets is legion, and is recommended (not by me btw) but conclusive evidence about their effectiveness is hard to find at best, and they are not designed for protection in vehicle collisions anyway.
If you disgree with the ASA, then please sign this petition or write or email them.

The second blow to cycling was the aquittal of a minibus driver from Dorset who hit and killed a cyclist travelling in the same direction. This was in daylight and the cyclist was wearing a helmet, hivis, and lights. The BBC article is here

Leaving aside the legals, the driver admits that he hit something with his nearside door mirror although he thought he'd clipped a bus stop sign. How close to the kerb was he then?

Although we could never know, and it was certainly NOT the cyclists fault regardless of position, I suggest that if the poor cyclist had been riding further out,contrary to the ASA ruling, then the driver may have seen him and taken action instead of just ploughing on regardless.

The Dorset tale certainly highlights one of the main reasons for not hugging the gutter, and that's vehicles squeezing past given the slightest gap, which is extremely dangerous.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bollocks infra... South Tyneside style

Spot of Limbo dancing anyone? Same barrier from both directions.

South Tyneside has a problem with Tanks illegally using cycleways

If the sign wasn't there.... A dropped kerb would be nice though

There wasn't much in the budget for a lot of paint, so went for the minimalist approach

They go to real efforts to keep cyclists safe on the busy roundabouts
South Tyneside does have some "dutch style" infra, even to putting the Give Way lines on the wrong side for the UK.
And where we're going we don't need roads (tbf this was "borrowed" from Gmaps although it is real!)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Cyclists on pavements are the wrong target

With the recent statement from the "cycling" (junior transport really) minister, Robert Goodwill reaffirming the advice to police not to issue fixed penalties for people riding on the pavement in a sensible and responsible manner, a flurry of responses from organisations have raised objections.

Most of these organisations have completely missed the point and an important opportunity.

Most experienced cyclists like myself, would rather not ride on pavements.

They are often narrow, rougher and badly maintained compared to roads, full of street furniture, and often have no dropped kerbs at junctions.

Organisations such as Living Streets and others need to get behind the space4cycling campaign and change it into a space4people campaign.

Safe separated cycling facilities should be provided from road space which is often plentiful, NOT from narrow pavements. Most road space is wide enough to provide this space, but local authorities find it easier to slap down a bit of paint.

Below is an excellent example from my town. Wide grass verges either side of a wide road with central turning markings, and a bus stop layby. But the narrow pavement has been converted into a shared use facility between pedestrians and cyclists. Why? Because it's cheap and doesn't upset the motoring lobby

The shared pavement along Temple Park Road in  South Shields.  Only benefits  Motorists. Plenty of road space available. See below

View Larger Map

South Tyneside council like many other LAs makes lots of pavements like this as shared use making it legal for bicycles to use them, which reinforces the belief of some that all cyclists should be the pavements, and often causes confusion then the shared status ends without warning. The shared path along the John Reid road is a perfect example of this, the shared path ends at a Toucan crossing, but isn't shared use on the other side. This is on a route put in to link primary schools as well.

It should also be pointed out that cars on pavements present much more of an obstruction and risk to pedestrians. approx 60 (sixty) pedestrians are killed by cars on pavements every year compared with 1 by cyclists. Drivers are the real inconsiderate and dangerous ones on the pavements. Drivers are often very inconsiderate and dangerous towards cyclists on the roads scaring some onto the paths.

Motoring is the real enemy, not people on bicycles. All the pedestrian and cycling organisations need to recognise that fully and form a united front against the real enemy and danger.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Taking the lane...

The other day Jeremy Clarkson published this tweet
The story from the cyclists point of view has been posted here for all to read.

Even excluding the obvious fact that Jezza is using a handheld device whilst driving which is completely illegal whilst the cyclist is riding legally, there are a few reasons why Jezza is completely wrong regardless of any previous interaction with the cyclist, and why in the same environment I would be in a similar position on the road

If that was me cycling...

  • I would take the lane that close to a junction with a give way, with only a few metres to go because:
  • I would take the lane as the road is fairly narrow anyway, certainly not wide enough for a larger car to safely pass a cyclist.
  • I would take the lane prevents the car from overtaking as anything could turn left into the road.
  • I would take the lane prevents possibility of the car overtaking and then turning left cutting me up
  • I would take the lane to give me space if I was going straight ahead or turning right
If I was in that position it is not because I am trying to "make a point" but keeping some safe space to myself.
If that cyclists had been in a car would Jezza have tried to squeeze past?
Of course not?
What's the difference? the guy on the bike is using less road space as he doesn't need to...

So Mr Clarkson, if you're in a supermarket queue with a large trolley with only one item in it, behind someone with a basket with the same item, would you...
  1. Wait patiently behind them?
  2. Force your way past them as your trolley needs more room than their basket?
  3. Tweet a picture of them along with a idiotic rant about people shopping with baskets "making a point"?
I trust it would be 1 as that's the sane thing. If everyone took trolleys around supermarkets, the aisles would be impossible to navigate when the stores busy. That is also a sane thing to do.