Hello. Author here
Far better to accept personal responsibility and be aware of our own and others safety than to expect to be protected by the Judicial System.
I fully agree. Cyclists should be responsible and competent and law-abiding road users.
I am a great believer in the idea that you make your own luck, and that it's possible to anticipate a lot of dangerous events before they become incidents.
But not all.
Mary Bowers was in a legitimate part of the road, fully visible to the driver behind, waiting at the lights, and the vehicle drove straight over her from behind because the driver didn't look and wasn't giving his attention to the road.
Elizabeth Brown was killed because she was hit from behind by a driver who was tailgating another vehicle. Even his defence lawyers said she was blameless.
Tim Sanders was killed by a motorist who hit him from behind whilst on the phone.
There are many, many cases like this. In all of these cases, the victim was doing nothing wrong and was entirely law-abiding and responsible. (Indeed, if Mary Bowers had jumped the red light she would have avoided the incident.)
In the first case, a small fine was given. In the second, the driver was acquitted. In the third, no charge was even made, despite the driver fleeing the scene and - as far as I can ascertain - the witness doing nothing to help.
There are two arguments to be made.
One is that the law does not recognise the massive difference in kinetic energy and corresponding potential danger between a bicycle and a car or other, larger motorised vehicle. I can understand why you might be comfortable, if you focus on equality of legislation rather than equality of protection. I disagree, but there are valid points on either side and both positions are tenable.
But the second is that where a vulnerable user does absolutely nothing wrong and is injured or killed by someone driving into them, the law fails them. To a sickening degree. I think that to argue that this is acceptable is not a tenable position.
Personally, I am broadly comfortable with risks that occur in front of me. I consider myself a responsible and diligent (and experienced) road user.
But some dangers, notably those that approach at speed from behind, are entirely outside my control. My - and your - only protections are the good intentions and aptitude and alertness of the driver behind. And my problem is that the law falls way short of reinforcing that fact in the minds of less vulnerable road users.
That is the issue that I would like addressed.
A couple of analagous questions for you: If someone wanders through a city late at night and is mugged or stabbed, do we just say they knew the risks and do nothing more? If a woman goes out for a drink in the evening, meets a man and is raped, do we just say they knew the risks and do nothing more?
So if a cyclist rides along a road and is mown down from behind by a car, so we just say they knew the risks and do nothing more?
I hope we can at least agree on the answers to those questions.
And I'm sorted for Christmas, but thanks