I wonder why the electorate is not enganged…

.. with politicians especially our venerable house of lords. Here’s an extract from Hansard.

Lord Quinton asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether they will take steps to ensure that bicycle users abide by the Highway Code.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the Highway Code and road traffic law apply as much to cyclists as to anyone else. The police can prosecute cyclists who drive dangerously, carelessly, ignore traffic signs or signals, cycle on the pavement or commit any other offence. Such offences carry maximum fines ranging from £2,500 to £500. Enforcement of the law and the Highway Code is a matter for the police and the relevant authorities.

Lord Quinton: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply, which in its abstract way is extremely encouraging, but does she feel that the system of penalties is effectively applied? As an elderly resident much given to walking about central London, I constantly perceive riders on the pavement and persons popping through traffic lights that are against them and driving up one-way streets. Perhaps I should declare a kind of medical interest, in that my wife was bumped into by a cyclist going the wrong way up Bond Street—at least it was a good street—and as a result she suffered a fractured pelvis. I will say of the offender that he said he was sorry, but that was rather by the way.

The law is not very effectively applied; I know of one person who, when a cyclist was going along the pavement, said to a nearby policeman, “Oughtn’t you to do something about that?” The policeman replied, “The road is very crowded”. That seems to me to be turning a blind eye to serious offences in the most unsatisfactory way.

Finally, I draw the noble Baroness’s attention to the special needs of the blind in this regard. They are peculiarly vulnerable to the offences committed by cyclists, particularly when they are crossing with one of those beeping lights in their favour and the cyclist offends against the rule against going through red lights.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I very much agree with the noble Lord that there is no excuse for cyclists to commit offences such as riding on pavements, although cyclists sometimes tell me that they feel safer in some of the traffic conditions that they experience if they ride on pavements. However, there is no excuse for such offences.

There is more of this drivel at http://tinyurl.com/8fh5e but I’ve cut it short as I’m sure you can see where it’s heading.

Words fail me. What kind of democracy do we pay for that provides a platform for these transparently self serving, out of touch, aging windbags? Where is the right of reply? The core of the argument seems to be “well if one rapist is bad, then they must all be and the same for cyclists”. One guy abuses the highway code, we’re all testosterone fuelled baby killers.

I notice that the Strand is festooned with happy little yellow signs informing us that any transgressions of a cyclist wheel onto the pavement will result in a £30 fine. And yet the same vigilance and robust enforcement of the highway code is mysteriously absent from those driving a motor vehicle.

We’re the bloody victims here. And I’m not just talking metaphorically. The roads (especially those in London) are bloody dangerous places – overcrowded and massively skewed in design terms for those with a steering wheel. It’s enough to make me vote “Green”, buy some sandals and start raging against the superstate that supports only those who fund it.

This kind of thing just makes me more determined to exercise – assertively and sometimes aggressively – my right to be a cyclist. If only the “joined up government” was something other than a fading soundbite, maybe we would be treated as a solution to the problems of pollution and ill health rather than some rather nasty lowlives to be criminalised off the streets.

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