I was going to post about another topic entirely, but I’ve just seen something in ‘The Guardian’ which has both angered me no end and is symptomatic of a growing trend amongst people to increasingly lay the blame for whatever misfortune befalls them at someone else’s door.
The article is on it’s front page, and is headlined;
Cycling UK angered by Highway Code’s ‘victim blaming’ helmet advice
Click-bait if ever I read it, with a sub-heading;
Group says driver education and safer roads matter more than protective clothing
Presumably the headline writers at ‘The Guardian’ know it’s bitterly cold where I am and knew I needed warming up and what better way to do that than to make my blood boil!
Cycling campaigners have reacted angrily to a tweet from the Highway Code that said cyclists should wear helmets and protective clothing, saying the advice fuelled a culture of “victim blaming”.
The official Twitter account’s post encouraging people to wear “appropriate clothes for cycling” was met with negative responses from those who believe the suggestion to be ineffective. The code is published by the Department for Transport.
A spokesperson for Cycling UK said the recommendation led to a culture of “victim blaming” of cyclists and allowed careless drivers to evade responsibility.
“Helmets are only really effective in low-impact collisions, we need better infrastructure for cyclists and education for drivers,” they said.
“If you look at places like the Netherlands and Denmark, where there are more cyclists, it’s not helmets that contribute to low death rates for cyclists but roadscapes and townscapes that are designed to keep people safe.”
The article also thoughtfully included a video expelling why cycle helmets are not that good, together with some accidents waiting to happen, sharing ill-informed condemnation that contributed nothing of any relevance whatsoever.
Long before my brain injury, I had to cycle from East Barnet to Waterloo at least four times a week both in the morning rush hour – not great but at least it was downhill – and the return – at night, after a day at work and uphill – so I know a bit about cycling in London. The main thing I know is that I wouldn’t do it now. Not only because there are more cars, buses and lorries on the roads than before, not only because car drivers are driving faster and more aggressive than before. Not only because their is a bewildering array of traffic calming measures which have the opposite effect, not only because some of these come into force with little explanation – the new roundabout system at Elephant and Castle being an example. One of the reasons I wouldn’t cycle in London again – aside from me not being able to ride a bike anymore, that is – is cyclists themselves and their seemingly delusional belief that other road users have a kind of osmosis, one that informs them of a cyclists intentions without any need for the cyclist to indicate this.
What other possible explanation could there be that explains why cyclists perform manoeuvres without first checking it’s safe to do so? As a passenger in a car I’ve been constantly amazed at their foolhardy antics, swerving in and out between cars, riding two or three abreast but worst of all, sailing through red traffic lights. Why is it that cyclists expect every other road user to obey the Highway Code when they themselves don’t? And what is it with cyclists and epileptic fit inducing lights? You know the ones like portable strobe machines? Or lights that are so small as to be as much use a cement football? And also to be clad in dark clothing, with no lights, on a dark night? Yes, I grant you, a helmet won’t do you much good if you’re hit by a car then, but then whose fault is that?
I’m not saying that other road users aren’t responsible for the lions share of culpability of accidents to cyclists but it’s never their fault! It’s always someone else’s fault! Isn’t it ironic that so many of them have crash-cams now, to record the transgressions of others?