A Six Inch Nail Through The Frontal Lobe

I was on a lesson over the weekend, and driving through the city centre and on to London Road we were repeatedly obstructed by a cyclist who was weaving through traffic and riding in the middle of lanes to prevent anyone getting by. Amusingly, he had a GoPro on the front of his helmet – which I assume must have been attached with a couple of 6-inch nails straight through his brain.Cyclist warnings on lorries

I pointed out to my pupil, as this twat weaved his way through traffic and rode straight through red traffic lights at the junction between Lower Parliament Street and Pennyfoot Street, that this was the precise location where a woman cyclist was killed not that long ago. Then, at the roundabout, he skipped on to the pavement to avoid stopping, and we again had to deal with him blocking the left lane he’d re-joined as we approached Hooters.

He wasn’t unusual. He was typical.

Coincidentally, the case against the lorry driver who ran over that woman has just come to its conclusion. He has been found guilty of “causing her death by careless driving”. The BBC Local newsfeed has a few more details – most notably:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

Actually, the Highway Code says various things aimed at cyclists. I can’t find anything like that, but there are plenty of much better ones.

Rule 72

On the left. When approaching a junction on the left, watch out for vehicles turning in front of you, out of or into the side road. Just before you turn, check for undertaking cyclists or motorcyclists. Do not ride on the inside of vehicles signalling or slowing down to turn left.

Rule 73

Pay particular attention to long vehicles which need a lot of room to manoeuvre at corners. Be aware that drivers may not see you. They may have to move over to the right before turning left. Wait until they have completed the manoeuvre because the rear wheels come very close to the kerb while turning. Do not be tempted to ride in the space between them and the kerb.

I don’t think it has been proven one way or the other whether Adam Haywood was signalling. He has never claimed that he was – saying that he cannot remember, but that he normally would have. That Post report somehow has reached the conclusion that he wasn’t, and I believe this is based on the premise that Louise Wright – an all-knowing and completely flawless cyclist – wouldn’t have been there if he – a totally flawed and guilty before proven motorist – had been signalling, so since she was there, he couldn’t have been.

The big problem here is that the Highway Code is full of MUSTs and DO NOTs for motorists (the capitals mean there is a Law that applies). ALL the cyclist rules – with a few notable exceptions – are completely free from hindrance of Laws, meaning cyclists can technically get away with anything. Absolutely no cyclist is anywhere near flawless, and even the exceptions are ignored.

Rule 64

You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

I don’t think I need to say again that 95% of cyclists ride on the pavement when it suits them. And 100% of the police force does sod all about it. Then there is:

Rule 60

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Not many cyclists have lights fitted, or even reflectors.

Rule 71

You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic

The majority think nothing of skipping lights when it suits them, and many haven’t got a clue about cycle forward areas and assume they can do that at any junction.

Rule 66

You should

  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
  • not ride close behind another vehicle

It’s common to see the Spandex boys slipstreaming cars and buses. Riding two abreast on country lanes and busy roads is standard behaviour. Earlier this summer there was an organised cycle event around Ruddington and the south of Nottingham, and there were parents riding three or four abreast as they ushered there bloody kids on tiny little toy bikes along the A60. It was extremely dangerous, since the roads had not been closed, and you had to overtake wide.

Considering all of the above, the Pennyfoot Street junction does not have a cycle forward area. The junction is one of the busiest in Nottingham and the accident happened during the rush hour. Any cyclist pushing forward – and especially alongside a lorry – under those conditions would need their head examining. And yet they still do it.

When I’m out on lessons, my blood sometimes runs cold when I suddenly realise that a cyclist has crept up on our left side. It’s bad enough that it almost catches me out – but what about the pupil, who might only be on their second or third session? Even a newly qualified driver may not have suitably developed skills to spot every retard on two wheels who does things like this – and it doesn’t help anyone if they all find out the hard way. Neither the dead or seriously injured cyclist, nor the severely traumatised driver (who will undeservedly get 100% of the blame and 0% sympathy).

It seems that the Law is very eager to blame Adam Haywood for Louise Wright’s death. It is prepared to make all kinds of assumptions without the necessary proof in order to do so. But if you were being completely objective about it, it would be equally simple to make some similar assumptions about Louise Wright putting herself in such a dangerous situation to begin with.

The Highway Code urgently needs some DO NOTs and MUSTs adding to the cycling rules. Unfortunately, before that can happen, the UK needs to start getting real about cycling and road use. The government needs to stop trying to encourage people to ride on the roads, and instead get them on to the very expensive and underused cycle lanes and cycle routes.

Adam Haywood has been found guilty of “careless driving” because such a crime exists. There is no Law about careless cycling, and on that basis Mr Haywood might be considered to have been hard done by over something that was, at best, more like 50:50.


There’s more detail in this updated story on the BBC. The article repeats:

Jurors were told it is not illegal for a cyclist to come up the inside of a lorry, but the Highway Code recommends not to do so.

It also adds:

Jurors were told there is nothing in law to say that a driver must indicate, but the Highway Code says they should.

Only the first nebulous statement was used in determining Adam Haywood’s guilt. The second one was not used at any time to suggest that Louise Wright was equally to blame if such vague reasoning is to be allowed in courts of law. I’m sorry, but this is just f—ing ridiculous.

The BBC’s Local News feed includes a post:

Cyclist death should ‘remind motorists about awareness’

Speaking after the sentencing, Det Con Connie Xavier from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “It should remind all motorists for the need for absolute awareness.”

“If we allow that awareness to lapse, even for one moment, it can result, as with this case, in a loss of life.”

This is why the police have lost the plot. Where is the vital mention that cyclists should also develop “awareness” and not behave like anarchic prats?

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