Channel 5 in the UK did a one-hour documentary about … well, basically everybody versus cyclists.
Was there anything unexpected in it?
Like the Department of Transportation in New York City, the documentary took a blame-all-around approach for “balance.”
And given its title, it begins with the bad behavior of cyclists.
Running red lights:
And the Highway Code is highlighted to show how cyclists violate the law:
But when people are shown complaining about how cyclists “zoom,” it’s pointed out that the Highway Code does not include a speed limit for them;
And this is what too many people don’t understand: If the law does not explicitly state something, it cannot apply to that thing. This goes against the common sense of people. But this is how the law works. It is based on precision. Did you steal an airplane in 1926? Well, the law couldn’t touch you! Let me repeat: That is how the law works.
There were actually very few instances of speeding cyclists documented (which were from a distance, making judging speed ambiguous), but several instances of other bad behaviors.
Using the sidewalk:
And the aftermath of Box Hill, Surrey once being an Olympics cycling route:
The locals have had their lives overturned by an influx of wannabe athletes challenging themselves to match or surpass Olympians:
I’m putting things in more order than the documentary itself, which tended to ping-pong between sides.
Now, the sins of drivers!
This is Dave Sherry.
He owns a car. He’s driven public buses.
He’s also an avenging cyclist!
He goes out with his GoPro camera and catches drivers in their own bits of bad behavior.
Such as using their phones:
At home, he edits the footage and uploads it to a site for such reporting (here in NYC, there’s a site for reporting vehicles idling):
He then goes to court to testify:
And gets an email with the verdict and fine amount:
What he does is dangerous. He wears a Kevlar vest:
Because sometimes drivers object to him pointing out their illegality:
And this is where the documentary failed. It shows cars colliding with cyclists:
A truck deliberately running into a cyclist:
Car hitting a cyclist:
Without a clearly-marked bike path, this truck got as close to the curb as it could and its rear clipped a cyclist:
The “balance” this documentary aimed at made it seem as if a cyclist on a sidewalk was as bad as a driver running down a cyclist! What were they thinking? How can a low-speed bicycle on a sidewalk be equivalent to the threat and impact of a multi-ton motorized vehicle? The filmmakers did so much subject-leveling that I suspect some viewers saw those incidents and thought the cyclists “deserved” it.
Even a police officer on a bike — one clearly marked like this …
… has no immunity from bad drivers! He’s followed at a distance by an officer on a motorcycle and together they pull over and ticket bad drivers. (Imagine if NYPD did something like that! Their eyes might finally be opened.)
London cab drivers have their own objections to cyclists. Here is the most ridiculous one:
He points out that aside from rush hours, the bike path has more joggers than cyclists in it. He said he could drive through it instead of being stuck in traffic. The day he points this out …
… it’s raining! But even if the weather was good, I’m certain he’d have the same sentiment. Which goes to show that bike lanes aren’t seen as legitimate parts of the street.
This program lacked the sensationalism and condescending tone I’ve seen in others from England. But it’s basically nothing other than depicting two sides squabbling — as if they were of equal power! That’s just not the case at all and how they could have put this together without realizing it is staggering.
Not covered at all were the governmental decisions that led to their current mess. It all begins at the top. If the streets are chaos, it’s because the decisions behind them were chaotic.
Let me state here my bias (which should be obvious to anyone who has been to this blog before): It’s pro-cyclist (actually pro-Alt-Wheels, which includes cyclists). Streets were made for people. Then widened for traffic by horse. Traffic which then became horse and bicycle. The motor vehicle came later and its popularity reshaped entire nations to accommodate it. In doing so, accommodating anything other than motor vehicles in streets was swept away. The very idea of a street being for people is an alien thought these days. Streets are seen as “belonging” to motor vehicles — only.
The resistance cycling faces today is over one hundred years old. Bicycles were seen as a scourge from their very beginning.
But here is something no one is realizing or even seeing: Joggers were once seen as weirdos. The idea of being a jogger in the 1960s or 1970s was seen as being the domain of “health nuts.” People who watched Jack LaLanne on TV and went off the deep end. Running? For what? If anything, aside from “health nuts,” runners were regarded as being athletes in training, not everyday people.
That has changed. Today, you can hardly walk anywhere without seeing a jogger. And joggers are now recognized as being everyday people.
Newsflash: The same change in perception is going to happen with cycling too. And by that, I mean the entirety of Alt-Wheels: pedal bikes, eBikes, eSkateboards, eScooters, eUncicyles, the Onewheel, and whatever else appears on the scene.
Motor vehicles will be seen as the weirdos one day.
To show the true imbalance of power on the streets, below is a YouTube video where the maker used the same title as this documentary. It illustrates what cyclists really have to go through. (It has annoying music; I advise Mute.)
But before you hit Play, here’s the law in England:
Watch with care to see how little distance this cyclist is given!