5 cyclists doing nothing wrong taken down by careless, thoughtless, and reckless motorists in as many days, all dead, with another touch and go today.
As a cyclist and a motorist, I refuse to call these accidents. Accidents are genuinely unexpected and unavoidable in foresight. All of these deaths are neither.
At last count there are 470 comments attached to the above story following the usual antagonistic divide of motorist vs cyclist, with far more blinkered examples of the former, and few voices of reason. One should be wary of seeing this as a representative sample of population since it is self selecting, but an astonishing number seem to subscribe to the belief that cyclists have no right to be on the road, no right to any expectation of safe passage; whatever happens is their fault for being there. Dedicated cycling infrastructure in the form of designated lanes and safe areas and the like is slowly appearing, but is still rare, and nowhere near the norm, so bikes and other traffic are forced together. To be fair, while a lot of drivers (either maliciously or ignorantly) don't react to cyclists well, there are many stupid cyclists who give the rest of us a bad name by thinking the road rules don't apply to them because they aren't in a car, or worse translate the at times palpable antagonism on the roads into deliberate provocation. I could rant about my own experiences as a regular commuter cyclist, but that would take an entire other post.
While as cycling becomes more popular there is something of a quiet culture war going on around it at the moment, the bigger point being missed as the heads bang on the comment threads is just why these incidents keep happening. It should be a scandal that a young driver thought there was nothing wrong in navigating a blind corner at speed on the wrong side of the road (a practice that killed three cyclists in one incident). It isn't, because it is accepted that as a nation we suck at driving. Across all road users (cyclists included) there is a certain element with a huge attitude problem, mostly centred around 'me first, screw everybody else', and a total lack of consideration for other road users, and a lack of awareness of potential consequences.
It's everywhere, constantly. Just in one ten minute drive home tonight on quiet suburban streets I counted three separate incidents of the type of driving that causes crashes. On a long drive on the open road dangerous driving is a typically regular sight, people risking lives to get where they are going a minute or two earlier. Local readers can try a challenge if they want. Next time you drive, if it is safe, try sticking exactly to the posted speed limit, and see how long it takes to pick up a tailgater, then a queue. It won't take long.
Driver training and licensing in this country is a joke (again to be fair, there is no formal licensing or training for cyclists at all, despite a formal road code being drawn up for them. Bicycles are also not subject to vehicle related road user charges or levies, although most cyclists are car owners, and pay levies accordingly anyway). No formal education or training required, essentially just a multichoice test and practical assessment and you are good to go. Enforcement of driving laws is similarly laid back, no matter how much those drivers for whom speed limits are only a guideline bleat about speeding tickets being an easy means of revenue gathering (hint: if you don't want a ticket, obey the bloody LAW! ). We are very good at licensing car operators rather than drivers. Formal and defensive driver training should be mandatory because the fact that you are in control of a big piece of metal that has mass, inertia and momentum, which you only need to screw up handling once to kill yourself, or worse somebody else, seems to be lost on people. I won't claim to be a perfect wheel, but on observation most drivers are nowhere near as good and safe as they think they are. They think it won't happen to them, if they think of it at all. I've survived both serious bike and car crashes, so I know it can and will if you let it.