Thursday, 21 June 2012

Followup on the "R242AAC incident"

We've been keeping an eye on the Times's Cities Safe for Cycling campaign.

We weren't that worried, because their manifesto was all about infrastructure. Such projects take years and can be put off on the grounds of the "the economy is in crisis -all we can afford is more bypasses".

What they had left out was the one thing that could have made our life tangibly worse straight away -demanding anything resembling enforcement of traffic laws. Today we can drive into ASLs on the phone, speed around the city, park in bike lanes, sound our horn behind cyclists. The underpeople may view all this as harassment, but it is what we need to do to get by in our city. There isn't room in the city for bike lanes, not when short term parking is so critical; stopping behind ASLs costs us seconds when the lights change, and mobile phones reduce the cost of congestion.

We need to break these outdated highway code laws to keep the city moving!

What's  concerned us recently is not just that the times is giving cyclists more publicity, but that they are slowly starting to look at enforcement:

That's a danger -a legal system that actually enforces the outdated rules. Of course, for that we will need judges that care about cyclists -which we are fortunately a long way off from having, and a police force that forwards cases to them.

The latter is something we all fear, obviously. Which is why it is so reassuring to look at the Cycling Silk's blog and see that in London, the police, sensibly, refuse to do anything. Indeed, the unit set to to focus on road safety, Roadpeace, are leading the way in this refusal to do anything.

Similarly, up in Glasgow, the one surviving cyclist, Magnatom, has actually been surprised to discover that the police won't do anything about HGVs nearly running him over at roundabouts.

It is critical that this unofficial policy remains. The growing popularity of helmet and handlebar cameras means that the things we used to do with impunity, now become videoed and stuck up online. If the police acted on these videos, then it would be worse than when the speed cameras were turned on.

Which is why today, we have some bad news for all important people in a hurry. Bristol Police do seem to care about the cyclists.

As regular readers may recall, last October we covered an incident where the car R242AAC nearly ran over a cyclist at a mini-roundabout.

The cyclist had complained to the police, who were trying to track the driver down. However, the driver had been successfully using the "don't reply to the letters" gambit, along with the "hide under the sofa when the police come by" tactic. It looked like they would get away with it.

Sadly for him, just before the time limit ran out, the police uploaded his registration number to the "cars to stop" list  on all the police cars, and within a week he'd been pulled over, forced to acknowledge he had been the driver, and pulled into court for "driving without due care and attention"

Now, at this point the normal my word vs their word argument would come out, and since the cyclist is trying to prove guilt, it's hard for them to make any defensible claims about our driving. And here is where those helmet cameras really hurt.

The driver had done what we'd do: deny all charges. But as soon as the video was shown to them, they realised that the usual denial tactic was doomed, and changed their plea to guilty.

We'll cover this in more detail shortly, but the key thing to bear in mind is this:

Not only are cyclists filming their journeys, the police in Bristol are acting on their complaints.

This is chilling. At least is hasn't got as far as London or Glasgow yet -maybe we should all move there.

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