Why am I angry? Ignoring the fact that I've met a number of poor drivers on the roads recently who value their convenience (and we are talking seconds here) over my safety, I have two issues that make me particularly angry.
This news article made me particularly angry.
A driver (who is called elderly, though I wouldn't class 72 as elderly) ran into the back of a cyclist and killed them. He did this on a day with good visibility (according to the local article he would have seen her for 250m). He suggests that he saw the cyclist well before he hit them. He claimed that he was travelling at 15-20mph and yet after the cyclist hit the windscreen the cyclist was thrown 90 feet from the car. The car was in fact travelling at 33-46mph.
The driver had this to say in court:
I saw the cyclist in front of me so I was slowly coming up to avoid her and out of the blue I felt the impact. I stopped and saw it was a cyclist I had hit. I thought I had left enough space between her and my car.
No. You had not left enough room. You had not left any. You didn't even just clip her with your wing-mirror, you hit her square on and she bounced off your windscreen.
This, though is not the worst part. The worst part is that the driver was found guilty of........death by careless driving.
What the f*ck!!?! What the actual f*ck?!
Careless? Seriously?!? This is not careless. How in any sense of the word, or indeed the law, could this be defined as careless. This was downright dangerous!!
Let's in fact look at the law. This section from the CPS (England but my understanding is that the definitions are the same in Scotland) is relevant:
(Death by careless driving).... stipulates that a person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he or she drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
The clear difference between this offence and an offence of causing death by dangerous driving is the standard of driving. For causing death by dangerous driving, the standard of driving must fall far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver; whereas for this offence the standard of driving must merely fall below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
So let me get this.....in the above case the driving standard fell below what would be expected of a competent driver, but not well below? The driving was just a wee bit crap, not totally shite? So not seeing someone directly in front of you on the road, when visibility is good, on a straight piece of road, without taking any necessary evasive action, and underestimating your speed significantly, and hitting them square on and sending them flying 90 feet and to their death......is just a wee bit crap?!?!
It beggars belief!
If there are any of my readers who work for the judiciary who could explain this one to me, I'd really be grateful! I'd love to know if you think this is justice, or that this shows that the judicial system is actually working....at all.
Protecting the vulnerable? No. Protecting the rights of the driver to travel unhindered. Yes.
As I suggested above, though, this is not the only other reason I am angry.
News of the above court outcome comes on the day when it is revealed by Spokes that the recent announcement of £10m extra for active travel and cycling by the Scottish Government is...well....anything but. £5m had already been announced and it would appear that the other £5m can't be spent on infrastructure.
Another education campaign anyone? Nicewaycode???
So today it has felt like cycling in Scotland has been kicked from two different angles. The judiciary and the government.
So let's just sit back and accept that it won't get any better?
Hell no! Please, PLEASE, PLEASE.....write to your MSP. Tell them that that something needs to change with the judiciary and that if they really are in any way at all, serious about making Scotland a better, fitter, less polluted, healthier and more vibrant place, that that they must start investing in cycling properly and NOW.
It's really easy to contact your MSP, just click this link, enter your postcode and away you go. Remember it is your MSP that matters, not your MP.
Everyone in Scotland was so engaged over the independence referendum. Why not transfer that engagement to somewhere where you can make a difference. Please write to your MSP and perhaps, just perhaps we can persuade them to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.