Monday 24 January 2011

A man who probably needs our support

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, called for tougher punishments for motorists who kill and injure cyclists. The reaction from "motorists" can be found here.

When I say the reaction from motorists, what is actually meant is the reaction of the RAC foundation, a spin-off from the RAC (and also a registered charity, which is interesting).

What Julian Huppert says is eminently sensible and not outrageous.

What a spokesman for the RAC foundation said was 

“The reality is there are reckless elements among all groups of road users.
“He is right to say tough action needs to be taken against offenders, but wrong to seek to establish a hierarchy of the supposed righteous.”
Of course there are reckless elements among all road users. But cyclists and pedestrians who are reckless don't have 1 tonne of vehicle in their control at the time. Surely even the most cursory consideration would draw the conclusion that reckless elements that pose a much greater risk to life and limb should possibly be treated with more rigour?
And the righteous comments are really starting to grate. Am I suddenly righteous on my cycle, but meek and humble when I do the same journey in my car?

The hierarchy that needs to be established is not of the "righteous" but of the vulnerability of road-user. Putting a higher duty of care based upon the potential hurt that can be caused seems very sensible. But road lobby groups will fight every inch of the way to preserve the status-quo. 
I am going to email Julian Huppert. We need more people like him, and we need them not to be discouraged by the efforts of the powerful road lobby.


  1. Note: The system forced me to post as "Anonymous" but my name is Kevin Love.

  2. We have such a law here in Ontario. It deems motor vehicle operators to be automatically negligent and liable for any damage they cause, unless they can prove otherwise. Most of our legal system is inherited UK law. Perhaps it is time for this law to go the return route.

    Here is our negligence law, from:

    “When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle.”

    That’s for civil liability, but criminal law is also rather intolerant of dangerous, violent criminals whose lethal weapon is a car. Driving 50 km/hr (30 MPH) over the speed limit is good for six months in jail. Careless driving, also six months in jail. Dangerous driving, five years in jail.

    Rest assured, the police aggressively enforce these laws. And after the arrest, if the accused has been released on bail, one of the terms of release is ALWAYS a driver’s licence suspension until the trial. If convicted, when the criminal gets out of jail, that licence isn’t coming back any time soon.

    Proper laws and law enforcement is one reason why Ontario’s roads are the safest in North America.

  3. I have sent an email to the CEN over this, though I'm from much further south I doubt it will get published. I have tried to encourage others on the CTC and CycleChat forums to contribute, especially if they're local.