Daft Old Duffer: Bike Laws

Daft Old Duffer gives us his view on the new cycling laws.

Did you watch the Tonight programme about cycling on Friday evening?

Daft Old Duffer: Bike LawsBy chance I had already finished a piece on this very subject. And I saw nothing on the programme to alter my opinion. So I’ll present it unaltered.

The government want us all to start using push bikes whenever possible. And to encourage us two new laws are being considered.

One is that cyclists be allowed to go the wrong way up one way streets if they want. Pretty much on the principle, that’s what they do anyway.

And the other is that in any accident involving a car and a bike, the car will automatically be judged as the one at fault.

As a motorcyclist who cannot remember how long ago he sold his last car, I can be expected to be in favour. After all, no cyclist has ever impeded my progress, whereas I’ve experienced plenty of apparently murderous car drivers in my time. As I have since becoming a part-time cyclist myself.

But I am not in favour. Not at all. Despite having been myself barged off the road – quite deliberately I am convinced – by a car – and with quite serious consequences resulting for me.

And the reason is the Englishman’s built-in determination to assert his rights no matter what the consequences.

We have all, I think, experienced the pedestrian who steps on to a crossing regardless of oncoming traffic, apparently smugly confident the driver who hits him will be severely punished should he be injured or killed.

And anyone driving in town will know the cyclist who ignores red lights, overtakes on either side of the traffic stream – and darts from one to the other without warning, U-turns and mounts pavements at will.

How many more of us will act in this way if we know it is not we who will be judged at fault? And how many will be run down by those motorists – and there are many of them – who drive with their eyes focused dreamily on a point two feet in front of their windscreen?

All in all I prefer to keep the fear factor in play.

Image: Optimal Tweezer under CC BY-SA 2.0

Opinion Piece

Saturday, 14th November, 2009 10:15am


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/27QJ

Filed under: Cycling, Isle of Wight News, Isle of Wight Opinion Pieces, Ventnor, Writers

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Sailor Sam

    14.Nov.2009 11:49am

    And how many do you see at night with lights on?

  2. Cheesybits

    14.Nov.2009 5:12pm

    Can I just point out that pedestrians are required to step onto a (Zebra) crossing to stop the oncomming traffic. It’s the drivers responsibiliy to allow for this eventuality when approaching. At least that was what it said in the Highway Code last time I read it (1972).

  3. Steephill Jack

    14.Nov.2009 8:57pm

    Legislation doesn’t make things happen on the street. What we need is more pedestrian and cycle routes free of motor-vehicle traffic.
    This can be done anywhere: London and the Isle of Wight. It just needs a determind policy and some money. Over to you Eco-Island !

  4. The Isle of Wight used to be marketed as “Bicycle Isle”.
    Problem now is that there are too many people riding BSO – aka Bike shaped objects ie the cheap full suspension etc like bikes for under £100- so you might as well be riding a piece of chesse!!-. Unfortunately they do not have a clue how to behave as “Cyclists”. On top of this we have drivers who give no consideration to any cyclists.
    It should be noted that in Belgium cyclists are allowed to ride against the flow of traffic in one way streets- without problems. Probably beacause unlike UK, Belgium has a cycling culture.

    • What do you know – there are cycle elitists too! They get everywhere. Damn those non-cyclist behaving people having the cheek to come here and ride their pieces of chesse (I think you meant cheese, Jan). My first experience was with something more like a triangle of Dairylea. It was a tricycle (well I was only three), but I got the bug. I went on to own some very fancy bikes indeed. I’m not sure if I knew how to behave as a ‘Cyclist’ but I certainly new how to ride properly on and off road and quickly understood to behave pro-actively in order to avoid motorists who unwittingly filter their vision for car shaped objects and not bicycles.

  5. I have never seen a cyclist at night on the Island without lights on. BUMP Just another pothole!!If you only have one headlight that works drive on full beam you can see better, and other road users know your coming.

  6. Meursault

    15.Nov.2009 4:16pm

    I invested £1500 in a very nice bike a few years ago with two goals – firstly to get fitter and secondly to ‘do my bit’ and reduce my carbon footprint a little. My initial plan was to ride as much as possible and eventually to only use the car when i really needed too.

    The first week I hit the roads and came very close on a number of occasions to writing the bike and myself off. The following week I decided to stick to off road riding as a much safer option and I found myself being treated with utter contempt by ramblers, dog walkers etc. So at the beginning of week three I decided to invest a further £200 in some super-powerful lights and only ride at night, off road. This worked great throughout the winter months but as the summer arrived I found myself having to hit the trails at like 10pm, which was a lot less practical.

    So if the government wants me to ride my bike (which i really do) it needs to invest in infrastructure. A few tweaks and laws here and there are not going to encourage more people to trade the car in for a bike.

  7. Unfortunately Not. As the clocks have just changed it is very noticable,especially on roads like Brading and Arreton Downs with no street lights.I myself have a crack in a forward fog light (one that shines downwards and a short distance) but it will not be replaced unless picked up on the MOT!

  8. Cyclist don,t pay to be on road,s,so think traffic law,s do not apply to them.They ride on pavement,s up one way street,s They ignore traffic light,s,and have no reguards for pedestrian,s, or most road users.Then spend time saying ,how bad other road users are

  9. Try being a longboard – everyone hates you!

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