Saturday, 20 November 2010

Do Students On Bikes Have A Death Wish?

Police launched their Lights on Bikes campaign at the beginning of November to coincide with the clocks changing and dark nights drawing in.

Cyclists caught breaking the law are given the opportunity to avoid the fine if they show police a receipt for new lights within seven days.
That's awfully generous! I wonder if you or I were caught with bald tyres or a defective exhaust if they would be quite so accommodating?

Still, it's nice to see a good story about police and public for once. How are the students treating this generosity?

Ah:
But bike shop staff revealed some people, particularly students, were returning to the store to get a refund after they had shown officers their new lights.
Good lord, how pricey are bike lights, for heaven's sake?

Well, a quick glance in Halfords shows they are....not very much at all.

Certainly, not worth the risk of disappearing under the wheels of a goods lorry who can't see you in the dark...
Jim Tanner, of Bike Zone, in Market Street, Oxford, said: “The police have tried to stop it by stamping the receipt. We’ve had people who try to cut the police stamp off.

“The police have said, if they ask for a refund, we should ask for their name and the police will reissue the fine and double it. But this time of year we are now refusing all bike light refunds.”
Not sure about the legality of that, but FFS, how dim are these kids?
Road safety officer Pc Mark Pilling said: “The initiative is now running 365 days-a-year and legally the force is unable to stop shops from offering refunds, but if the receipt has been stamped it will have been used to prove purchase of a set of cycle lights and avoid paying a fine.

If anyone would rather ride without lights after dark they should expect to either get injured or repeatedly stopped and fined.”
Or killed.

So what is it, a macho thing? Is it considered uncool to ride with lights? Is it a rebellion against authority?

I really, really cannot see what's to the student's advantage in doing this....

22 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

I was once riding home late in the evening with my GF on the back of the bike, no lights on of course (the bike simply didn't have any) and we whizzed past this miserable old codger (we did not in any way endanger him), and (this being Germany) he shouted after us:

"Das geht aber viel zo weit!
Ohne Licht und noch zu Zweit."

Which means 'You are going too far, no lights on and two of you" but it scans and rhymes absolutely perfectly, so I muttered to the GF 'Hey, that rhymes perfectly' and bless him, the old codger then said, in an astonished tone "Hey, that rhymes".

Lynne said...

Well let's look at it from a practical point of view. If enough of them get squished while riding their no lights bikes it'll help relieve the shortage of uni places won't it...

Richard said...

I did a piece on this here a few days ago. You see, the reason is that cyclists are special. Friendly, nice, harmless, eco-aware ... unlike us motorists who just pay for the bloody roads. I was mildly outraged that they were getting let off an offence if they demonstrated that they had bought the lights later (a bit like getting let off robbery if you return the money afterwards), but trying for a refund afterwards is sheer cheek. If the police just enforced the law with cyclists like they are so keen to do with the rest of us, I'd be quite happy.

WV - torch :)

Jiks said...

Put an idiot on a bike they remain just as much an idiot.

Students, as a rule, have always been lacking in sense but I guess it is worse now. Anyone going through the state education system will come out knowing nothing about personal responsibility.

I don't doubt this lot are just as much a danger to themselves while on foot, wandering out into the road without looking and to others, driving whilst texting, etc.

Dave H. said...

This isn't so much applicable to students, but I can never understand how parents could spend hundreds on a bike as a present for their kids and then scrimp on a couple of extra quid for lights, esp. rear ones. It isn't nowadays much of a burden to keep lights running.

The majority of them must be drivers and will know what a difference even a couple of red LEDs make.

PT Barnum said...

It's a stealth thing, you see. If they can't be seen, they can ride anywhere and in any style they see fit. I speak as a cyclist-cum-pedestrian and have to severely restrain myself from putting a stick through their spokes as they hurtle down the pavement toward or behind me. Some of us appreciate that other road users are not psychic and will obey the highway code. Even if the odd car driver thinks it is hilarious to swipe a cyclist into the gutter.

Invisible bike meets bus or lorry or van? More Darwinism in operation, methinks.

Clarissa said...

As someone who tends to use her bike everyday I will always aim to take my lights with me at this time of year or when I know that I'm going to be back late.

On those odd times when I have an unplanned late night and don't have them on me I take care not to put myself in danger by using the back streets and pulling over if I see a pair of headlights approaching from either direction or using the pavement where I will stay in a low gear and give way to pedestrians.

Common sense really but too many people - cyclists or not - don't seem to have it.

Third Gear said...

Not sure what the problem is here. Most cyclists, often being econuts or indulging in a sense of natural superiority, ride on the pavements and across pedestrian crossings rather than wait for traffic lights to change.

They don't need lights then.

Chuckles said...

Self correcting really.

Johnnyrvf said...

As an ex lorry driver and now handlebar attendent, my greatest fear was always cyclists doing something stupid , e.g. trying to race me away from the lights when I was in a 500 horse power trator unit minus trailer, or even worse when the stupid burke ( I recall very rarely having problems with female cyclists OR children ) thinking he could some how not be crushed by being on my nearside when I was turning left in the U.K. or right abroad, although cyclists in Europe seem much more switched on as does thier govt. provision for cycling; the number of times I had rows with cyclists when I lived in and had to drive around London outnumbered all the rest, I can say that fortunately in all the 20 years I was wagon driving, I only had one minor incident when a young lass cycled the wrong way up a one way street as I was pulling out and because I was looking in the direction of oncoming traffic only knew of the collision when I head her screams as she hit the front wheel, fortunately she was not hurt, just shocked but the front wheel of her bike was a write off, she did'nt even mark the paint on the wheel of the lorry. People who dont drive 40 tonne and bigger vehicles have NO idea of what it is like, none what so ever and believe me it is in NO way a pleasure to be selected as an executioner because of somebodies machosim or stupidity.

ranter said...

I wonder if you or I were caught with bald tyres or a defective exhaust if they would be quite so accommodating?

They are, been in for years, Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme.

http://www.kent.police.uk/about_us/our_organisation/policies/p/p06.html

Richard said...

@Ranter - good to see that, an example of common sense in action.

@Clarissa - you really shouldn't be caught out by an 'unplanned' late night. LED lights are small and virtually weightless, and there's no excuse not to have them on you if you are out after dark. It depends on how seriously you take your own safety, I suppose.

Jiks said...

Richard - I think you will find various uniformed types are very happy to stop little old ladies cycling at 4 mph on the pavement. It's the youths in hoodies being a genuine danger they can't see. As usual it's a matter of going for the easy targets, no different to any other group IMO.

As a veteran cycling commuter be assured I like to give the motorists a sporting chance of seeing me so at this time of year I look like a mobile disco. I get just as annoyed as you about the idiots zooming up the inside, jumping the lights, etc as they give the rest of us a bad name.

Just don't assume we are all ecoloons please ><

Richard said...

@Jiks - far from it. I make a massive distinction between cyclists and cyclists. I am one of the former. I love bicycles and still have two, although the hills round here and my ageing system mean I use them less than I used to. I used to commute 16 miles each way across the Yorkshire Wolds and through Hull city centre, summer and winter, so I have the t-shirt, if you like. I loved mixing it up with the city traffic, although I was careful to stay within the rules. After all, if you don't follow the rules yourself, you can hardly complain when someone else does the same and mows you down.

Cyclists, however, are either aggressive Lycra-clad hooligans who believe the Highway Code is for wimps, or politically-motivated superior types who believe that because bicycles are non-polluting they have the right to sneer at everyone else on the road. I have met, and argued with, both.

I love bikes (push and motor) and I love riding. But when you take to the roads, common decency says you should stick to a sensible set of rules that make it easier and safer for everyone. Riding a bicycle according to the HC is no hardship IME. Even obeying red lights, you are still the fastest thing on the road.

So, no offence to you at all.

Jiks said...

Richard - Sorry, I misunderstood your first post, my bad.

Richard said...

No, I was in semi-rant mode and should have been clearer about who I was talking about. My bad.

I insist.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

Up here in the town of the followers of Deornoth, hardly any of the cyclists have lights. It seems to me to be a rather strange phenomenon, given how keen the local Herberts are to steal bicycle lights.

Clarissa said...

@Richard - I only tend to take those things I know I need with me when I leave for work and during the summer months, unless I know I'm going to be late, that doesn't include my lights.

Perhaps I should live by the Scout motto and always have them with me but I also don't carry my pump, tire irons and a puncture repair kit on such trips. Why? Because the station is just over a mile away and I can - if necessary - push the bike home instead. On a longer ride however I always go fully prepared.

Like you though I stick to the highway code. The only exceptions I make are the aforementioned unplanned nights and a 100m section of pavement between me and the London bound platform as I'm afraid I can't be bothered to take the half mile diversion to do it legally.

Richard said...

@Clarissa - no criticism intended. In the end it's all down to what's reasonable. 100m on the pavement to avoid a huge detour is one thing - my disapproval is of the oafs who barge pedestrians out of the way, run red lights, cross roads on pedestrian crossings and then act all hurt and victimised when the inevitable consequence happens. That wouldn't be you, obviously :)

JuliaM said...

"..and bless him, the old codger then said, in an astonished tone "Hey, that rhymes"."

:D

What a great little anecdote!

"You see, the reason is that cyclists are special. Friendly, nice, harmless, eco-aware ... unlike us motorists who just pay for the bloody roads."

I wonder if the main difference is in those cyclists who are ALSO drivers?

Are they more aware of the dangers, and also less inclined to be cycling not out of necessity or fun, but as a statement to others?

"I don't doubt this lot are just as much a danger to themselves while on foot, wandering out into the road without looking and to others, driving whilst texting, etc."

That's a worrying thought!

"...I can never understand how parents could spend hundreds on a bike as a present for their kids and then scrimp on a couple of extra quid for lights..."

That's always been pretty mind-boggling to me too. It's why I wondered if the 'no lights' thing is somehow considered 'cool'...

Mind you, a few adults seem to be of the same mind.

A few nights ago, I watched as a black man, on a dark-coloured bike, with dark clothing with absolutely no reflectivity and - of course - no lights pulled out of a junction and the car in front of me narrowly swerved to avoid him.

If not for his headlights briefly illuminating why he'd swerved, I'd never have known. He was almost completely invisible...

Perhaps, as PT Barnum points out, it's a stealth thing?

"...my greatest fear was always cyclists doing something stupid , e.g. trying to race me away from the lights when I was in a 500 horse power trator unit minus trailer.."

Yes, even some car drivers exhibit a total lack of knowledge of the laws of physics where lorries are concerned...

"They are, been in for years, Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme."

Oooh! Good to know! :)

JuliaM said...

"..and bless him, the old codger then said, in an astonished tone "Hey, that rhymes"."

:D

What a great little anecdote!

"You see, the reason is that cyclists are special. Friendly, nice, harmless, eco-aware ... unlike us motorists who just pay for the bloody roads."

I wonder if the main difference is in those cyclists who are ALSO drivers?

Are they more aware of the dangers, and also less inclined to be cycling not out of necessity or fun, but as a statement to others?

"I don't doubt this lot are just as much a danger to themselves while on foot, wandering out into the road without looking and to others, driving whilst texting, etc."

That's a worrying thought!

"...I can never understand how parents could spend hundreds on a bike as a present for their kids and then scrimp on a couple of extra quid for lights..."

That's always been pretty mind-boggling to me too. It's why I wondered if the 'no lights' thing is somehow considered 'cool'...

Mind you, a few adults seem to be of the same mind.

A few nights ago, I watched as a black man, on a dark-coloured bike, with dark clothing with absolutely no reflectivity and - of course - no lights pulled out of a junction and the car in front of me narrowly swerved to avoid him.

If not for his headlights briefly illuminating why he'd swerved, I'd never have known. He was almost completely invisible...

Perhaps, as PT Barnum points out, it's a stealth thing?

JuliaM said...

"...my greatest fear was always cyclists doing something stupid , e.g. trying to race me away from the lights when I was in a 500 horse power trator unit minus trailer.."

Yes, even some car drivers exhibit a total lack of knowledge of the laws of physics where lorries are concerned...

"They are, been in for years, Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme."

Oooh! Good to know! :)