The Roads are Un-policed!

I asked my self the other day when was the last time I saw a traffic police car on the road driving around? hmmmm… I thought long and hard but couldn’t give my self a definitive answer. Either they are doing a great job of hiding but not catching anyone or there aren’t any.

With the lack of Police patrols on the roads, drivers get away with speeding, drink driving and using their mobile phone whilst driving. In the case that they do get caught, the fines and penalties are not large enough to stop them from doing in the future. And as the motorist is aware that there aren’t many patrols, they know the chances of getting caught is slim.

I see people breaking road laws on a daily basis and not once do they get caught, they put other road users at danger and can serious hurt or kill innocent people. But how can we solve this problem?

More police on the roads.
That’s right, if we put a bigger police presences on the roads, then people won’t act like idiots all the time. They can use unmarked cars to blend in with regular drivers and catch people red handed. With more police on the roads and more fines given out, it will mean that the points system will actually work. As you have more of a chance of getting caught then you are more likely to get points and reach the limit. This will mean that over time, the people on the roads will be the safe drivers.

Fines relative to income
A £60 fine is nothing to someone driving around in a £60,000 car who earns more than £200,000 a year. I suggest that we do what Finland do and fine people relative to their last known income. This will help cover the costs of the extra officers required to catch offenders.
In finland a fine was handed out for €170,000 (£140,000) to a driver that was going around 45mph in a 30 zone. The police in the UK could make a comfortable living if people were charged that much.

CPS need to give decent sentences for traffic crimes
The amount of times I see a news report of a conviction given to a motorists for killing an innocent road user and the sentence is below poor. The fine isn’t high and they are only in jail for a few years and if they get a driving ban, it often runs along side the jail sentence which often means by the time they come out, they are allowed on the roads again.

But is it really the polices fault that driving standards are so bad? Well it kind of is, if the roads are un-inforced then people get away with bad driving a few times and then they continue to do it. Lets not forget how people learn to drive, the test isn’t particularly hard and the theory you are required to ‘learn’ is often forgotten as soon as they have passed the theory test.
As a cyclist I would like to see a section of the test that is devoted on how to drive around vulnerable road users and the duty of care they should have towards us.
At present drivers are put onto the road without any real experience around cyclists and the mentality of most drivers is that the speed limit is in fact a target. What the often fail to see is that over a set distance a bicycle can actually be just as fast and that rushing past us actually gets you no where.
I also think that there should be some re-testing involved , everyone 5 years you should have to go back and take your test to prove that you know what you’re doing and you haven’t picked up any bad habits.

Driving is a privilege and not a requirement or should I say, driving should be a privilege. I myself am a driver, and I know what sort of damage my vehicle could do to someone, because of this I take care when I’m driving and I look out for other road users.

Recently, Martin Porter QC (A cyclist and a helmet camera user) called out for courts to do more to protect cyclists after the tragic death of former boxer Gary Mason.

I don’t claim to know anything about how the Police work, my ideas about funding and more staff to catch more drivers may be a wild dream that is never practical, but we can all have our little perfect world.

Ding Ding – The Unheard Bicycle Bell

Bicycle bells are now attached to the handlebars of bicycles sold in the UK, but do they work?

The answer to the above isn’t that straight forward. Bicycle bells are designed to be used to warn people of your presence, this basically means you can use it on two road users, pedestrians and cyclists. I personally have never found my self in the situation where i need to use a bell, if I need to make someone aware of my presence i will use my voice. It has the advantage of you being able to control the volume easily and being able to use a polite tone, such as ‘Good day, please may I pass’

That doesn’t mean the bell doesn’t have it’s use. Look at the video below, a bicycle bell is used by a pedestrian on pedestrians and he films the results. It’s amazing to see how people move out-of-the-way but in reality, how many cyclists have had this experience? I expect only a handful

Clearly the bicycle bell has its place, but is that place on the handlebars of every bicycle sold in the UK?

With the current boom in cycle commuting, I would guess that most bikes sold are either going to be used off-road or on the road during commuting. This will mean that most interaction with pedestrians will be whilst they are around roads and whilst they are walking to and from work.
This means that if you are trying to get the attention of a pedestrian or cyclist during this time, the sound of your bell will be competing with traffic noise and the music that some pedestrians will be listening to. I would expect that the bell won’t be heard and you will be wasting your time by dinging it, It’s certainly not a sound I hear often and I spend many hours on the road around other cyclists every week. A question to ask, is how does the dopler shift affect the sound of the bell when using it on a pedestrian that is about to step out in front of you.
I’ve also seen some cyclists try to ding their bell at vehicle drivers, it really isn’t loud enough for them to take notice, and they certainly won’t react in time to avoid any danger. If you wish to use something against a vehicle, I would suggest using the aizround which punches out about 115db compared to around 80db for a bicycle bell. It’s also a sound which vehicle drivers are more aware of.

The bicycle bell has its place, and that is on the handlebars on some bikes, the ones which are taken on shared footpaths by considerate owners who wish to be polite to other users of the footpath. The government think that putting a bell on a bicycle will change the behaviour and attitude of cyclists towards pedestrians, the bell will not achieve that.

In conclusion, I suggest to ditch the bell, use your voice but above all, look out for people more/as vulnerable than you. Take care when cycling around pedestrians, as they can move unpredictably.