Justice - right?
This is the headline that no cyclist wants to see. It’s not the phone call that anyone wants to make or to receive.
As cyclists we can to some degree understand this, we all have experience of dangerous driving, from the unintended to the incompetent. This is something that can no longer be tolerated in a civilised society. So how can we move forward with this?
The most simple place to start is with ourselves, after all:
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
or perhaps we, as cyclists, should sort our own s*** out first. The cheap journalistic policy is to polemicise drivers and cyclists, and even pedestrians! This clearly doesn’t apply to all of us, but firstly let’s behave as responsible car drivers ourselves (those of us who are).
The experience of driving in any city regularly includes cyclists squeezing through too narrow gaps, cyclists going both sides of stationary traffic, cyclists in dark clothes, without lights, skipping traffic lights, and in the country riding more than 2 abreast, failing to signal, riding bikes in unroadworthy condition. Let’s not leave ourselves open to criticism by motorists, we need to sort these things out. There can be no excuse for any of these things, it’s time that cyclists rode to the highway code, consistently and with precision. We have to disarm the persistent, pathetic argument that cyclists do not obey the rules of the road.
This is clearly not a popular line with a lot of angry cyclists, but these are the things that make motorists angry, and in the fight between car and bike, car wins. We have to be taken seriously, both as a sport and a means of transport. We should match the efforts of Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Sarah Storey and Geraint Thomas - ride like you mean it.
Take a breath when the car passes too close, then turns in on you. Try to be calm not angry! It’s not easy, but it is part of educating motorists.
The other side of this is to make motorists responsible for their actions. What we don’t need are lenient sentences. There are many suggestions for how sentences for motorists that kill should be measured, murder, manslaughter and so on. This is a matter for legal experts, but let’s make the punishment fit the crime - it’s never just a fine and a ban.
Another issue is the transport policy - there must be a serious political will to make this happen - cycling is transport and should be treated as such. Real cycle paths, no corrupt process of money wasting and soft measures, if we split the car and the bike as much as possible then surely the number of incidents will be reduced. There is no value that can cover the lives lost unnecessarily, when we spend so much on taking life across the world, let’s spend some more on preserving life on our own streets. In the face of political boredom and apathy this is an issue that we should band together on and flex political muscle.
The key issue is that the cyclist must never be to blame, the only place this can start is with us, the cyclists.
This is never going to stop the sort of hideous accident that we have experienced in Bristol this weekend, and we offer our sincerest sympathy to the families and friends of Clare and Ross Simons.