Category Archives: Riders Rights

Soft fruit

The mornings are starting to feel like autumn – there’s a very tiny chill in the air and a sense of change. And not-quite-autumn is bringing small firm pears, gooseberrys, and new bikers.

I am guessing that they are new bikers, because all their gear is shiny, they have fresh clean L-plates, and they have an air of nervous pride.

It makes me glad that there are people so keen on motorcycling that they are willing to brave the crazy new licence regulations to get there. I hope the sun carries on shining on them for a few more weeks. 

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Can you help me with my homework?

These days all the good jobs need Qualifications. So I have gone back to school and need to carry out a small research project on a communications topic.

I’m looking at the PR aspects of activism and protest, because it’s something I find really interesting.

Specifically, the No To Bike Parking Tax protests – because it was one of the biggest direct actions Westminster has ever seen.

If you’re a biker who took part in the protests and would be willing to speak to me for about 30 minutes on your experience, please get in touch. You can be completely anonymous and I’ll arrange time and place to suit you. Highwaylass [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Once again, the #bloodycyclists show the way

I’m interested in the pasting being handed out on Twitter to “Nice Way Code,” a new road safety initiative by the Scottish Government.

Cyclists have taken over from bikers as the group for whom KSIs are rising, not falling.

Yes, it’s probably due in part to more people on two wheels – but that was also true for bikers and it didn’t stop many key people in Government saying that as a result of rising KSIs, motorcycling could not be promoted as part of the transport mix.

Now the road safety authorities are rolling out for cyclists the kind of inept, well-meaning campaigns they inflicted on us. Hell, some of them weren’t even well-meaning. But Nicewaycode is trying to encourage road users to look out for each other and share responsibility for safety using some “humorous” posters and videos.

Seems reasonable?

Not if you’re a cyclist, apparently!

Instead of muttering a bit and then flagellating themselves, as the bikers did, the cyclists are angry and are expressing their views in very clear terms.

The main argument being put forward seems to be that for as long as the majority of collisions are the responsibility of the other driver – true for bicycles and motorcycles – then the campaign is targetting the wrong audience.

I do hope TfL and @dorsetbikecop are listening.


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No To Bike Parking Tax

Ruby wanted to come to the Old Bailey to offer moral support.

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I’m a biker – and the consultation on Roadside Facilities on the Strategic Road Network was my idea

As my years advance and my bones get old and knackered I find myself more closely in touch with my Inner Curmudgeon. Things were better when I was young. Hair was higher. Sony Walkmen were bigger. And Motorway Services lived up to their name, rather than being just an endless chain of opportunities to extort money from the road-weary traveller.

The trip to and from an otherwise excellent A.R.S.E was marred, on the way down, by the classic Small-Print-Parking-Sign shuffle. I used to campaign about these for a living so it’s profoundly annoying having fallen for one – maybe this is how Geoff Hoon feels, though at least I’m only out a tenner rather than a £5,000 day rate.

YOU MUST PAY TO PARK FOR MORE THAN 2 HOURS. Seriously? TRAVELODGE STAFF CANOT TAKE YOUR MONEY. YOU MUST PAY BY PHONE. What joy. Having been done by Westminster Council in the 5 minutes between parking and getting to my office in the hope of calling without getting rained on, I thought it were best to be done quickly, gritted my teeth and phoned the automatic call-handling service. £10 quid fee, oh, and a “handling charge.” How nice. How much does it cost to have a computer take your money anyway?

Drag the bags out of the panniers, squelch to the doors. In very small writing – FREE. Travelodge customers may park for free if they register their VRN at reception. I ask the receptionist that doesn’t speak English very well and the one with her ear clamped to her mobile phone if they can reimburse me. No, nothing to do with them, sorry.

So you have to pay for parking (if you’re going to be longer than 2 hours) and you have to pay to get your own money to hand back over the counter to the multiple retail opportunities, because free cash machines have been replaced by fee-charging boxes managed by the lovely people at LINK. (No, M&S in Service Areas don’t do cash-back, I asked.) At least in the old days the part of the services that was designed to ream you of your money was over-18s only and in plain sight as a slot-machine arcade.

What’s the point of a Motorway Services anyway? I’d argue that their key function is a safety one – they are a place to stop and rest if you’re so tired that your brain has stopped talking to your body. And since the arrival of HighwayHound, this is my perpetual condition. If you’re on a bike, you have a special need for somewhere you can sit that isn’t conditional on the purchase of fast food, because you can’t buy a sandwich and take it back to your warm and comfy car for scoff & shut-eye (119 minutes, max).

Maybe I am taking this too seriously in my sleep-deprived state. It’s good of the Government to consult on what Services should be provided at an MSA, and I don’t want to be too tetchy about the special prominence given to caravans and electric cars compared to the humble motorcyclist. The consultation says that we should be offered lockers to stash our gear. I’d prefer a parking space that wasn’t seen as a handy place to stash an RAC recruiting wagon. And that I wasn’t fooled into paying for.

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Shiny Side Up

I like this poster, it shares the responsibility for safety between the rider and the other vehicle. According to the MAIDS study, 2/3 of collisions are attributable to the other road user's mistake.

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Playing Chicken

Lots of coverage in the press today of Antony Young, who has been awarded compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after being badly hurt in a crash caused by a 12-year old boy who deliberately ran into the road as a dare.

The case has been reported in very mixed ways – kudos to the Times, who put it in the headline that the boy was playing chicken, but the Telegraph headline is “Motorcyclist who killed boy gets compensation” – which suggests a whole other scenario and might leave casual readers quite angry.

Presumably this crash is one of those claimed in aid by biking’s critics who like to argue that motorcycles are more dangerous to pedestrians than cars. It just goes to show that the real stories are always more complicated than the statistics.

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Reporting Road Accidents

Interersting column in Scotland on Sunday by Norman Harper.

After describing an incident he witnessed where a pedestrian sadly lost his life after starting to cross the road without chcecking properly for cars, he concludes “In any case, the next time you read of a pedestrian being knocked down and killed by a car, pause for a moment before assuming that the fault was the driver’s.”

I’d second that in spades for reporting of motorcycle deaths. A particularly egregious example from the Bucks Examiner still sticks in my mind – the headline was something like, “biker killed after hitting family car.” On getting to the final third of the story it was explained that the family car in question had done an unsignalled right turn across his path on a fast A-road, the driver admitted that he hadn’t checked for oncoming traffic – yet the casual reader of the piece will assume that it’s just another death-crazy biker who got what he was looking for. Would it have been so hard to write “being hit by”?

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Two and a half cheers for bikes and bus lanes

The DfT has finally published its new guidance to local authorities on allowing bikes in bus lanes. It’s not as positive as it could be, but it’s an improvement on the previous version which told local councils that bikers should not normally be allowed in bus lanes.

I particularly like the hard stare the bloke in the blue anorak on page 3 is getting from the courier – a potential lemmingPed if ever I saw one!

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Bikes in Bus Lanes redux

Sign the petition!
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to open all bus lanes to motorbikes across the UK now and stop messing about. More details

Submitted by Gary Stephenson – Deadline to sign up by: 11 April 2007 – Signatures: 490″

Only one million, seven hundred and ninety nine thousand, five hundred and ten to go before we get our own “thanks but no thanks” reply from Tony!

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