Today’s column features guest writer Angela Einstein. (Please do follow that link before reading on.)
Take it away, Angela…
Charles Rowan, or “Karr the Magician” as he billed himself, was a self-styled magician of the early twentieth century, whose performance came to include escapology. Magicians being showmen, he—like many others—sought to add the excitement of danger to his act.
It all began, as it so often does, with a couple of simple questions.
Friday’s ride was good. Wouldn’t have minded a bit more sun, I guess, but I spent ten hours in the saddle and felt better than expected, which is a good day out by any standards.
Quick as a flash, the hare senses the machinery approaching. His ears twitch towards the deep, industrial growl; his nose dances around the particles drifting through the air; his eyes swivel instantly towards the cloud of dust and chaff cast skywards by the beast that thunders towards him.
Today Philip Sinden was cleared of causing the death of Daniel Squire.
But something’s not quite right here.
In the aftermath of a car crash there is silence. An eerie, disturbing silence. But if you listen carefully, you can hear the echoes of the crash throughout the legal system.
And, like any echoes, these become quieter and quieter.
The law, like the life scattered across the tarmac, is being erased.
When Channel 4 covered cycling in London recently, the content was predictably disappointing, but it does at least serve as an example of why coverage of this type is so problematic.
It came in three parts, which are best covered in reverse order.
OK, here’s a hypothetical scenario. Imagine this.
Speed cameras are in the news again, so what better time to gather by the roadside to watch the glorious parade of naked, self-interested human deceit?
So there’s this guy, right?
Recently the Bicycle Helmet Initiative trust (BHIT) rebranded itself as “Cycle-Smart”. But what did this change of name actually signal?
Get in and buckle up, we’re being taken for a ride again.
I’ve already covered a number of aspects of the harmful use of language in reporting collisions. But some articles are particularly bad, and demonstrate particular points.
Sometimes a single remark encapsulates a whole raft of misguided thinking.
What part does infrastructure play in lawbreaking? Let’s ask the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
Language is a funny old thing: it can be beautiful yet brutal; trivial yet pivotal. At the very least, it’s always a product of the author’s thoughts: a symptom of an attitude; a barometer of a mindset. But—more than that—whether subtle or strident, malign or mendacious, it remains our main tool of influence. What you say, what you write, is important.
But sometimes, it’s a car crash.
Let’s take a look at it, pull it apart, see if it needs fixing, and then put it back together.
Who’s the master of disguise? Sherlock Holmes? No! It’s you! (Provided you’re not in a car.)
Low sun. When do we get our collective heads around this apparently unfathomable phenomenon?
This morning I tweeted a link to this oft-cited article which explains saccadic masking, with the suggestion that perhaps the explanation of it—the understanding of why that first look isn’t enough, even though you absolutely think it is—ought to be a part of mandatory training for drivers.
Back came the response, “How about a compulsory driving [sic] test for all cyclists as well?”
Well, why not?
Amazingly, an MP has stood up in the House of Commons and argued the case for lifetime driving bans as protection from particularly dangerous drivers.
The use of headphones is just one of many aspects of cycling behaviour which generates lively debate; but debate which rarely braves the cold world of data and quantitative study, preferring to inhabit the opinion columns of newspapers and the soundbites of politicians.
Let’s try and move it on a little.
Pop quiz time! Two scenarios, each with some questions.
Here we are once again: The sun exists, therefore fatal road collisions are legally inevitable.
Here’s a joke:
Q: When is a facetious comment not a facetious comment?
A: When you don’t have a legal team and a big pile of cash.
OK, it’s not a funny joke. Maybe it wasn’t a joke. I don’t know. I wonder if The Telegraph can help us out.
A grim vignette of commercial operators’ attitudes to road laws and other road users.
Look, I’ll make this simple.
When it comes to anyone broadcasting road safety messages to the public about the risks to people on bicycles, there’s a pattern of behaviour that’s been apparent for a long, long time.
Recently, Jersey voted overwhelmingly to make cycling helmets compulsory for under 14s. It turns out this was based on a report from the Transport Research Laboratory. Let’s take a look at it, then.
A new low in road safety films.
This article – bar a few changes – was originally published elsewhere in February 2012, in response to calls for the maximum jail term for causing death by dangerous/careless driving to be raised from 14 years to life, in line with other homicidal offences.
Another week, another road safety film. Step forward, please, the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
Some deaths are, whilst inherently no greater or lesser than others, more poignant than others from any given viewpoint. This weekend, one death happened to take me aback somewhat.
Oh, Top Gear did a thing.
Today, we look at some idiots.
Let’s cut to the chase here: UK courts are explicitly condoning driving that is dangerous and is absolutely contrary to the Highway Code. Here’s why.
Some days, things seem futile.
There is something that happens twice a day, every day. It has done so since before life existed on Earth and it will do so until the seas boil and life ceases to exits. So reliably does it happen that the very concept of a day is inherently bound to it. Twice a day, the sun is near the horizon.
Given the frequency and the fundamental constancy of this phenomenon, the way we treat it with regard to road collisions is quite remarkable.
Let’s take a look into the sun.
The Horse is dead. The Horse deserved to die, but not like this. And you should be very vocal about what killed it.
Why do people on bicycles get so agitated about close passes, when they’re happy passing other vehicles closely? Isaac Newton has the answer.
A tragic death gives rise to some curious comments which should make us all think.
Pavement cycling is, rightly, a contentious issue. But are we seeing the problems or just the symptoms?
We would do well to remember that morals are not absolute, and that morality is not a measure of competence.
The government THINK! campaign is fairly unambiguously named. It implores us to do one thing: THINK!
But, to copy a set of decisions laid out before you; to take them at face value; is that to THINK?
What are we being taught to THINK? Are we even being taught to THINK! at all?
No, this isn’t really about sexism. But sexism shines a light on what this article is really about.