Archives For BBC

The War on Britain’s Roads

November 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

The War on Britain’s Roads combines footage captured by cyclists through helmet-mounted cameras, with interviews from cyclists, drivers and those affected by incidents on our roads. Viewers are parachuted into the middle of the battle that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts.

The documentary airs on Wednesday the 5th of December at 9pm on BBC1 but is there really a war on the roads?

War is a strong word, one that suggests a them vs us and that there is daily conflict on the road. There is obviously some concern coming from the cycling community about this. As what better way to make cycling look dangerous than to convey the roads as a war zone and to show countless videos of dangerous driving.

And whilst this may have a negative affect, this has all come around because of the poor driving that some of us have received over the years. If the documentary can get through to people about how vulnerable we are and how much space we require, then surely it must be a good thing.

Those of us that film will be the first ones to admit how safe it is on the roads. Whilst watching my youtube videos may seem like I run in with a lot of lunatics, you have to take into consideration how many miles I travel and under what traffic conditions.
Most of my riding is done in central London during rush hour traffic, I can do anything from 120miles – 300 miles in a week in those conditions and average over 6,000 miles a year. On average I probably pass and get passed by 4,500 vehicles a week, lets say 250,000 vehicles a year. For the past 3 years that would make 18,000 miles covered and 750,000 vehicles passed. I would say that I have had no more than 50 bad interactions with vehicles in that time. That means I’ll have an incident every 15,000 vehicles or 360 miles.
Considering that I spend most of my time cycling in rush hour traffic, where people just want to get home or into the office on time. I don’t think that is too bad.

So is it a war? It could be described as such. I wouldn’t say it was cyclists vs motorists though, more good road users vs bad road users. It’s not just cyclists who are using cameras, motorcyclists, horse riders and motorists use them to record what they experience on the roads.

I’ve had some involvement with the documentary and whilst they are advertising it as a war (hopefully to gain attention), I don’t think that is the way they program is going, more raising awareness of the issues that we experience on the roads.

David Secker has been banned from driving for 12 months by Norwich Magistrates. He has been given a £150 fine and 14 penalty points. Mr Secker was witnessed by two police officers on the A47 driving at 70mph holding one phone to his ear and the other in his hand. My Secker also had no insurance!

The dangers of driving whilst using a phone are well documented, be it talking or texting. Using two phones at the same time is clearly a very dangerous thing to do and obviously he was distracted as he failed to notice the police approach from behind and pull up alongside him.

My Secker’s solicitor appears to be a twisted man, comparing driving whilst on the phone to eating an apple whilst driving and claims that it isn’t that bad as he wasn’t texting, just reading numbers off the phone, much like reading off a pad. Should you really be reading off a pad whilst driving?

You can watch a short video of what his solicitor had to say at this BBC article.
The dangers of driving whilst on the phone can be read here.

Speed Cameras are Pointless

January 31, 2011 — 5 Comments
A GATSO speed camera

Image via Wikipedia

The GATSO camera, the most common in the UK, is the most pointless device for catching and dealing with speeding motorists. They only catch the idiots that don’t notice them and they only succeed at slowing down the traffic to the limit at their location.

In the middle of 2010, a few councils across the UK decided to announce they would switch their speed cameras off. Much to the pleasure of the motorist. Stats from Swindon’s shut down show very minimal decrease’s in casualties and seriously injured, but is this a good enough reason to scrap the speed cameras?

The main reason for the switch off is the government cuts to the Road Safety Grant, which funds the speed cameras. It seems that some small changes in road casualties are another reason but in reality we will need to see a stronger change over a period of time, rather than a small change over a year.

In the past week the BBC reported that most speed cameras in the England and Wales aren’t functional. A freedom of information request was put in by Which? magazine.

47% worked at any given moment in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales.

Its study also highlighted big regional differences, with all 60 cameras in Sussex working compared to just 10% of Lancashire’s 287 sites

Which? also did a survey of nearly 2,000 people and they were split as to whether speed cameras made the roads safer.

47% saying they did and 45% disagreeing.

Speed cameras make people think about their speed, but in doing so, they may be distracted from hazards in front of them.

The one time I notice all road users obeying the speed limits is through average speed check zones, these are most often found on motorways or busy/large A roads during road works. But why not apply these along roads where there is an issues with speeding in general?

Speeding on Britons roads is a big factor in crashes and casualties, we should kill our speed and not one another. Removing or keeping our common GATSO camera will not affect how the vast majority of motorists speed daily.