armour, yet much simpler measures that would make the roads considerably safer - such as enforcing speed limits, or the ban on phoning or texting at the wheel - are ignored.The reality, of course, is that minority groups are easily suppressed, but enforcing laws disobeyed by the majority would cause uproar.The government has suggested increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph.Why bother changing the law? More than half of motorists already exceed 70mph, and 16% regularly exceed 80mph.
Cyclists can be pulled over for doing many things, but The Mole for one was unaware that a hefty fine awaits those who carry passengers on a bike that has not been ‘designed or adapted’ for the purpose, presumably on the principle that they might hurt themselves. This is rather interesting wording: putting a cushion on the rack sounds dubious, but what if you make and fit a seat of your own design?
Maybe, maybe not. Clearly a tandem is designed for two, and presumably a commercially-available trailer bike or child seat will keep you on the right side of the law? Well, yes and no, because the Health & Safety police are constantly on the look-out for potential infringements, and even the safest child seat can fall foul of the regulations if it’s deemed to be improperly fitted. Ghulam Murtza from Staffordshire took his two-yearold son for a ride on a top tube seat and came home with a £100 fixed penalty notice (some reports say £200). The seat was, apparently, properly fitted, but according to press reports, he had added some duct tape to make sure it was secure.
An oddity of our risk-averse Health & Safety culture is that the rules can be applied rather patchily. For example, the H&S police would be delighted to put all cyclists in reflective tabards and body www.atob.org.uk
An 80mph limit wouldn’t be an issue if it was rigorously enforced, but as we all know, the de facto limit would then rise to 90mph.There seems to be widespread support for this sort of thing: 68% of sandal
A to B 86 Oct 11 PHOTO:Telegraph/Cascade wearing types visiting The Guardian website are in favour of an increase to 80mph, while a quarter of Telegraph readers have lobbied for 100mph plus. Rather disturbingly, 8% of Institute of Advanced Motorist members admit that they are planning to exceed the proposed 80mph limit.
daft bit of infrastructure, where the three-metre wide ‘Olympic’ cycle path from Weymouth (soon to be NCR26) ends abruptly against the kerb of the A35 trunk road near Dorchester. As this is a trunk road, the crossing is the responsibility of the Highways Agency, whose remit as it likes to point out to the Daily Mail - is to keep traffic moving, rather than protecting cyclists. Squashed cyclists cause all sorts of tiresome hold-ups, but the Agency denies all knowledge of a Sustrans path crossing the road. Needless to say, the local authority disputes this and says the Agency has been aware for years that the National Cycle Network was coming. The Agency has responded by suggesting that NCR26 will just have to wiggle off somewhere else. Meanwhile, thousands of cyclists are already crossing the trunk road, a Health & Safety issue if ever there was one. Joined up thinking, eh readers?
The 60mph limit on single-carriageway roads is similarly widely flouted. Surely if professional railwaymen can be sacked for crossing the tracks, amateur cyclists and pedestrians are forbidden from crossing in front of 60mph road traffic? Not, it seems, when a ban might inconvenience the Highways Agency.
Cycle paths are pretty safe as a rule, give or take unexpected street furniture, trees and other slalom obstacles. The real danger is the 100% safe, car-free cyclists’ motorway that sweeps for miles in stately isolation, then dumps innocent riders somewhere really dangerous. Everyone will have an example, usually funded through a ‘greenwash’ tax on developers, who grudgingly install just as much cycle path as they have been obliged to install, and no more.
Finally, subscriber Bill Sharp of Chichester has spotted a reason for wearing a cycle crash-helmet that the Health & Safety bods might have missed. It seems buzzard attacks are becoming more frequent in the West Country, with innocent cyclists and joggers the primary targets.You can take all the precautions in the world and still get struck on the head by a grumpy raptor.
Is NCR26 set to become the most dangerous Sustrans route in the UK?
South Dorset now has its own www.atob.org.uk
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