Thursday, 22 October 2009

No mention of Red Lights though....

In an article about "Anti-Social" cyclists on the BBC.

The government should do more to target "irresponsible behaviour" by cyclists - particularly when they break traffic laws, a committee of MPs has said.

Good. It's about time they stopped being deified by the media, which only adds to their arrogance and belief that "the rules do not apply to them". I'd like to take this opportunity to remind cyclists that the rules very much apply to you. That includes stopping at fucking red lights as well, something the BBC article neglects to mention.

The thing is, if when confronted about cycling through red lights, or on the pavement, cyclists were even the slightest fucking bit humble, and admitted that they knew it was wrong, and they were very sorry, but sometimes it's just easier and they do it if it's safe to do so. However, most I've come across do not do this - in fact, almost the opposite - they believe they have a god-given right to ignore red lights and cycle on the pavement, because their smugcycle is not fitted with an engine. They make no apology for the fact that they completely flout rules on the road on an hourly basis and even have the outright fucking temerity to get indignant when drivers don't show them the utmost courtesy even though they're not prepared to do the same (such as actually stopping at red lights, or pulling into the side of the road when it's safe to do to allow traffic to pass, or actually looking before they wobble out from a side street straight into traffic).

I've taken a personal resolution that the next arse who "buzzes" me whilst twatting through the pedestrianised area in Broadmead as fast as they can on their stupid fucking bike is going to get pushed off it.


Chris Hutt said...

Dave, when motorists start obeying the rules of the road then there might be a case for expecting cyclists to follow suit.

But since motorists plainly will not obey speed limits, parking restrictions or the prohibition of driving on the footway (to mention just a few of many examples)it's pretty arrogant and hypocritical of you to expect cyclists to.

As for jumping red lights, try standing near some busy lights some time and see what a high proportion of motorists rush through on amber and the first second or two of red when they should and perfectly well could have stopped.

Another interesting one is to observe one of those Vehicle Activated Warning Signs (they're on Temple Way, Hotwell Road, Winterstoke Road and Hartcliffe Way for example) and see what a high proportion of motorists trigger the 30 mph sign to light up.

Cycling through Broadmead is permitted, by the way, so if you do try pushing someone off his bike don't be surprised if you find yourself on the wrong end of a prosecution. There's a lot of CCTV around there remember.

Bristol Dave said...

Some points:

1) My point was that cyclists mainly need to obey the rules if they want the slightest chance of justifying their indignant vilification of motorists. Jumping red lights at the first second of the red cycle because you think you can make it is indeed unacceptable, but is not in the same league as just completely ignoring the light and blithely pedalling through regardless of it's colour.

2) Vehicle Activated Warning Signs - a high proportion of motorists set these off because the tolerances are set too low. Many are set to light up even if you're doing under 30mph - I've personally verified this using a GPS reciever, which is possibly the most accurate way to measure my speed. So it's not necessarily that everyone is speeding. I think in these instances the council have deliberately set the tolerance low (maybe 25mph?) not as a warning but just as a reminder.

3) Cycling through a pedestrianised area is permitted? On what grounds? And is cycling as fast as you can, going so close to people you almost knock them over permitted? I'd be quite confident that if the CCTV caught me push someone off their bike it would catch the previous "buzzing" incident which caused it to happen, so I'm afraid my resolution stands!

Chris Hutt said...

1. I'm not aware of any cyclists' group arguing that motorists should obey the rules while cyclists ignore them. The main consensus is that we should all respect the rules and not just cyclists or just motorists.

And jumping red lights is jumping red lights. It makes absolutely no difference legally whether you do it 0.1 seconds after they change or 10 seconds.

2. I think you'll find that Vehicle Activated Speed Warning Signs are set to be triggered at 34 mph (for a 30 mph sign) so those triggering it haven't just drifted slightly over the limit but are exceeding the limit by at least 10%. It may well be that a large proportion of those who do not trigger the sign are still breaking the speed limit.

GPS is not an accurate means of determining your speed. See Bristol Traffic for a recent blog post exposing some of the weaknesses of GPS.

3. Pedestrianised areas like Broadmead are not classed as footways (where cycling is illegal unless specifically allowed) but as highways which have some kind of vehicular prohibition in force. If you check the signs at Broadmead you will see that only motor vehicles are prohibited.

Of course that does not entitle cyclists to ride in a way that harasses or intimidates pedestrians any more than motorists are entitled to harass or intimidate cyclists on ordinary roads (although many motorist do so routinely).

If such behaviour by cyclists entitles you to push them off their bikes then would you agree that such behaviour by motorists entitles us to haul them out of their cars and throw them violently on the ground?

banned said...

Whenever I see a neaby cyclist break the law I call in a deep voice " Bad cyclist ! ". I know they can hear me because it has generated some splendidly angry scowls.

Bristol Traffic said...

1. I cannot cycle through ped areas at "race speed" on account of my knee being buggered. It aint me.

2. I get off the tagalong and wait patiently at the pelican crossing so as to get over whiteladies road alive. Last week my son -standing on the pavement here- almost got hit by a delivery van pulling onto the buildout at the dropped kerb there.

3. I dont run red lights. The only road-rage incident I have had the joy of experiencing was when a white van driver got irate that I wasnt turning into the oncoming traffic, but instead waiting patiently for the turn right sign.

4. IF you read the PAC article it primarily advocates better road safety for kids in deprived areas, and pushes 20 mph zones. The BBC and Daily Mail skipped those recommendations and went straight to #4, "perception of cycle/pedestrian safety" and instead of understanding what the word "perception" means, focused on it bike/pedestrian safety as the key problem facing our streets.

So: I dont run lights, I don't cycle on pavements, I still get chased by van drivers, abused by buses and vans in the advanced stop lanes, cut up by redland mums of death on their school run and generally treated like shit. Oh, and denounced as responsible for more deaths than the 7/7 terrorists in a paper last month.

Now remind me, why exactly do you feel threatened by us?

Bristol Dave said...

Chris: Actually GPS is an incredibly accurate way of measuring speed - far more so than any mechanical or electronic speedometer, for example. The accuracy of most GPS recievers is around +/- 0.1 mph. That's just as accurate as the radar used in the Warning Signs, and possibly even more so.

As far as I can tell Bristol Traffic's blog post (aside from the amusing "The Bristol Traffic Project is not anti-car" - really? Your blog implies otherwise) highlighted the dangers of blindly following SatNav directions without using common sense, which I completely agree with.

If such behaviour by cyclists entitles you to push them off their bikes then would you agree that such behaviour by motorists entitles us to haul them out of their cars and throw them violently on the ground?

If they're in the wrong, I see no reason why not.

My preferred solution though: I have purchased a very loud horn off eBay which I intend to fit to my bike with a 1.2ah 12v lead acid battery. If someone pisses me off when I'm on my bike, I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to let them know of their error as effectively as I can in a car.

Bristol Traffic said...

Speed radars are confused by vehicles behind, and other calibration issues -usually used by celebrities, and footballers to get off their tickets

Car speedos measure wheel rotation speed, and are calibrated at manufacturing time for the specific tyre. Change tyre and they become inaccurate.

GPS is very accurate at speed when you have good satellite coverage and there have been no solar storms hitting the ionosphere. Way better than car speedos. They use it for some of the tachograph replacement stuff in lorries and autobahn use billing in Germany, missing the point in that it is possible to subvert if you really want to, and if it is used to bill you or speed limit you, you will want to.

At slower speeds (walking pace) it's not so good, though runners use it as it is the first time they have a speedo. To check how accurate GPS is, use your unit on the same walking route on a regular basis, see if the distance ever comes our "different".

Some of those roadside signs are hopelessly badly calibrated -Shaldon Road, Lockleaze- and as there is no need ever to use them in court, nobody cares. But signs that are blatantly inaccurate just get ignored. It would be nice to calibrate them and then set them up to count the ratio of legal:illegal vehicles, and traffic volumes altogether.

Returning to the bikes and laws issues, I don't think two wrongs make a right. It is no more acceptable for buses and taxis to stop in ASLs because "you cyclists run through lights" than it is to cycle through lights "because buses run ASLs".

But pavements, they are tricky. I used to cycle down the A4174 pavements years before they had bike signs put in, because the ring road was death. But I did it corteously. Now the pavement has signs. I still use them, and I am still nice to pedestrians. What do I gain by cutting them up?

Finally, Bristol Traffic. Not anti car. Anti selfish parent endangering all other schoolkids. Anti car parking completely across a corner or blocking the whole of montpelier. Most of what we cover is actually more inconvenient to other motor vehicles and pedestrians than bicycles. We just cover what's interesting.

Chris Hutt said...

OK, I was wrong about GPS speed measuring accuracy and Dave was right.

On Vehicle Activated signs, they can be linked to induction loops in the road in which case they might give better accuracy.

As BT says it would be very helpful if they were accurately calibrated and triggered at the speed indicated so people can see what's really going on with speed limit compliance.

As for the general issue of obeying rules, I used to obey them but got fed up with constantly being harassed, intimidated and endangered by motorists breaking the rules.

Then I realsied that if I broke some of the rules myself I could give myself a better chance of survival. So I will continue to break the rules as long as motorists continue to do so.

Bristol Dave said...

Then I realsied that if I broke some of the rules myself I could give myself a better chance of survival.

Not that I'm accusing you specifically of jumping red lights, but I'd say ignoring a red light and riding a bike through a stream of traffic that is only obeying it's traffic signal (as I've seen many times) is decreasing chances of survival!

Chris Hutt said...

As you have doubtless noticed there are many situations where a light remains red although whatever conflicting traffic (including pedestrian) movements it allowed have taken place.

If a cyclist sets off as soon as conflicting movements have ceased then he has the opportunity to get clear of the motor vehicles also waiting at the signal and avoid the competition for space for at least a few seconds, giving him a chance to get up to speed and establish a better position on the road ahaead for when (and if) the motorists catch up.

If you think about it such an action makes life a little simpler for the motorists waiting because when the light does change they don't have to wait for a cyclist in front to slowly get up to speed before they can get going, probably allowing more traffic through the light before it changes again to red.

So it may be that if all cyclists onbeyed traffic dsignals at all times it would add significantly to congestion, which I'm sure you'd love. Of course I don't jump red lights for the benefit of motorists but if it helps them too I've no particular problem with that.

Bristol Dave said...

Hmmmm. Tenuous at best.

Bristol Traffic said...

The problem with cycling through red lights is that it pisses cars off. If you commute through BRS you are unhappy already at the cars in front, buses, having to wait, and bicycles create two holdups.

1. they stop you sprinting between traffic jams. Especially when they are far out that you can't pass them without waiting for a gap. Now chris, I know you will point out that this is legal and the driver is just sprinting between jams, but its psychological, you feel that but for the bike pootling along in the middle of road, that last holdup will be behind you and you will be at the destination in a moment. This partly stems from the fact that most drivers don't plan more than one move ahead, their horizon is the bike, not the junction or blockage in front.

2. they force you to stop while you are doing something at the lights you waited for, like turn right. And that is pretty frustrating, especially if it is gloucester road on an evening, you are waiting patiently and some idiot without lights, only visible by the way they occlude takeway shops, pedals through your green light.

The trouble with that resentment is that it creates problems downstream. I don't feel bad about holding cars up in situation (1), if they were on a bike and fitter than me they'd pass me in a moment. But #2, what does that gain. For the unlit cyclist, it's not clear its safer, and it is just laziness: a substitute for fitness, and the belief that you are allowed to.

Now a lot of the daily mail people -have you read their article- think bicycles should be banned and pedestrians pushed into underpasses. The very existence of bikes is an issue, and cycling legally would not make much difference. But how do we know without trying?

Chris Hutt said...

So BT you think if only all cyclists obeyed all traffic laws all the time all would be sweetness and light?

Not much chance of that ever being tested, is there, given human nature? When I first got involved in cycle campaigning in the early 1980s do you now what the big road safety issue was? Cyclists riding without lights! Or so almost everyone prefered to think since it provided a convenient diversion from the truth which was that motorists were killing and maiming hundreds of thousands.

In fact there wasn't a shred of hard evidence to support the notion that cyclists without lights were more dangerous to themselves of others than cyclists with lights. But that didn't stop cyclists being made scapegoats of on that pretext.

And so it is today. Cyclists just happen to be a convenient scapegoat group to substitute for Jews or Blacks or Catholics or whatever minority groups had served as scapegoats in the past.

Human nature and social cohesion demands that we identify a group to hate, to blame for societies ills, and whatever we cyclists do we are it until such time as we find the courage to confront the prejudice head on and fight it, instead of meekly accepting that it has even the slightest validity.

Bristol Dave said...

Come on. Are you really trying to suggest that lights on bikes don't make a difference at night?


I wouldn't contemplate taking my bike out at night without lights on it, and think anyone who does is a fucking moron.

I especially like the flashing LED rear lights, which means I can spot a cyclist half a mile away when I'm driving rather than relying on his "reflectors" to reflect some of my headlights back when I'm 30 feet away. One of the best inventions for cyclist road safety, IMHO.

Comparing cyclists as a scapegoat like Jews were is bordering on offensive.

In general cyclists bring the hate upon themselves with their relentless holier-than-thou arrogance, in both the way they conduct themselves on the road and their responses to problems on the road (i.e. refusal accept any blame for anything whatsoever). When they begin to justify their indignance at being singled out with correcting the behaviour that causes this to happen then maybe they'll be rewarded with the respect they're after.

Bristol Traffic said...

I think being visible matters. I also find that having heavy duty head lights on -bright enough to cause physicial pain in people I turn my helmet towards- actually give me a better experience cycling through narrow areas -like montpelier- than during daylight where they see it is only a bike and decide to treat me as something that mysteriously disappears if you drive at it aggressively enough.

That said, on my commute through lockleaze, I can predict exactly where vehicle will turn onto my lane (onto Shaldon road from Gainsborough square) despite my heavy duty LEDs. They are not doing this because they think its only a bicycle. They are doing it because there isn't much traffic coming down the road and they don't bother looking for anyone, car or bike. Good lighting helps, but it isn't enough. It also raises that expectation that everyone who goes out at night will be visible, covered in high viz clothing with shoes that light up -then when some child gets killed because the car was going too fast, the coroner gets to say "they should be wearing hi-viz"

Chris Hutt said...

Dave, if lights make such a difference, why don't you (or anyone else) carry lights when you're walking?

The answer is because we all know that it makes precious little difference in lit streets. And what's true for pedestrians is also true for cyclists.

In fact on lit streets I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if everyone dispensed with lights so that we could actually see people and shapes instead of being dazzled by headlight beams.

bristolmoose said...

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alice said...

This'll cheer everyone up too!

Just one of the many "issues" on the road.


swindon_alan said...

I'm hoping Mr Hutt goes under a bus.


Love and kisses.