3 more crazy laws we should introduce for cyclists

There are still people in the world who maintain that it is legal to shoot a Welshman with a crossbow and arrow in Chester after sunset – technically this piece of legislation is in the book of statute and you could do it. However, common sense suggests that if you were to do so, you would go to prison for breaking a raft of other laws.

So where are we going with this little nugget of information?

There are some laws and tiny bits of legislation that exist, but that perhaps aren’t particularly relevant to today’s culture or don’t take into account modern technology. Such as clipless pedals.  “Reflectorgate” (coined by BikeBiz) is a recent high profile example of where cyclists have been like the Welshmen of Chester, a victim of the law being stuck in the past.

Do your pedals have reflectors?

Do your pedals have reflectors?

Currently it is the law that you must have reflectors on your pedals, but police mainly look out for lights or lack off, and with the introduction of clipless pedals, reflectors are not commonly used.

Despite this, the Anti-social behavior, Crime and Policing Bill which is currently being debated by MPs appears to disregard this fact entirely, and if left unaltered will allow PCSOs to fine cyclists with no reflectors.

Thankfully, the House of Lords have voted to amend the bill and discussions will take place on Tuesday, so hopefully this one will be dropped shortly.

However, we thought we’d take a light hearted look at 3 more stupid laws that could be enforced, if the wrong people were left in charge:

1. Police have the powers to taser anyone running a red light

It’s illegal, you shouldn’t run red lights (it gives drivers more ammunition – for starters) and you certainly shouldn’t steal bikes – but does a cyclist who ignores the rules of the road deserved to be tasered? Well – Police in California thought so in 2012 when they attempted to administer a shot from an electrical stun gun to a teen who rode through a stop sign. The bike was later revealed to be stolen, but the police ‘dealt with’ him by blocking his path with a patrol car and knocking him to the ground, which seems rather heavy handed. Police in California will now no longer use taster guns to stop cyclists, but it’s really quite shocking that an independent report is required to come to that decision.

2. All cyclists must wear head to toe high viz and trousers are to be left at home

Back in November police took it upon themselves to stop and “advise and educate” cyclists that they should be wearing a helmet when cycling. Now, personally, I always wear a helmet and I cringe at the thought of not doing so – however, it’s not a legal requirement and this “education” seems to be an example of a rather unwanted piece of advice. All adults know the facts about helmets, and they come to their own conclusions. If this nannying is legal, what is to stop police advising that all cyclists wear head to toe high viz?

Could this be the enforceable uniform?

Could this be the enforceable uniform?

Following on from that logic, perhaps authorities should then turn their efforts to advising that long trousers should be removed as they pose a risk to rider and other vehicles due to the chance of a thread becoming tangled in the chain?

3. Cyclists must stay less than half a metre from the kerb at all times, especially as they don’t pay road tax

If Labour MP for Vauxhall and former Sports Minister Kate Hoey’s opinions are anything to go by, cyclists are basically a lesser breed of human being and should not be treated with the same respect as drivers.

In fact, drivers like Hoey herself who was fined in October for shunning a red light after calling cyclists “law breaking Lycra louts”, have more right to the road because they pay “road tax”, as she explained in November , stating:  “Why should I pay a hundred and whatever pounds for my little Mini and they don’t?”

In case you were not aware, Road Tax was abolished in the 1930s, and replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty – which is based on emissions. The moment I start blowing as much c02 out my bottom as Hoey’s “little mini” does, I’ll think about paying tax for my bike (as well as my car).

There was also recently the news of Jeremy Clarkson tweeting the below image and text:

“It’s middle of the road point-makers like this who make car drivers so angry about cyclists.”

BdoYu8kIgAAYrFJ

Jeremy Clarkson’s ignorance reflects that of many drivers, who believe that cyclists pedal in the middle of the road to “annoy people”. Of course, this is exactly what cyclists should do according to TfL and cycle safety experts. This position not only prevents a car from overtaking in a dangerous manner, but it also prevents injuries from passengers swinging open their car doors without looking.

Unfortunately, due to the aggressiveness of drivers when they see this behaviour, many cyclists fail to take this safe position.

Any other laws you think we should enforce, if present attitudes are anything to go by?

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37 Responses to 3 more crazy laws we should introduce for cyclists

  1. Mark 14/01/2014 at 8:46 am #

    The law on reflectors is even dafter than generally reported: it requires them not only to be fitted, but to BE MARKED AS complying with a certain British standard. Even pedals which do have reflectors are almost never marked as compliant, so they’re still illegal. And good luck with sourcing any replacement reflectors marked with a BS number….

  2. Alan Moore 14/01/2014 at 10:44 am #

    On the other hand, it should be illegal to sell a bike without built in dynamo lights. If everyone did it it’d cost £8 per bike – and last forever, with no batteries.

    • Vincent 14/01/2014 at 10:28 pm #

      What about road bike$, where every shed pound counts?

      • Alan Moore 15/01/2014 at 12:09 pm #

        Road bike = used on the road = needs lights! If they all had lights it would still be a level playing field. And to be honest I’d extend it to ALL bikes including Olympic track specials.

        Hub dynamos are already very low drag, not noticeable on the road, but racing should improve the breed.. eventually the whole system will weigh about an ounce and feature ultra low drag hub dynamos, tiny but super-bright build in LEDs – and probably built in sensor and wiring for a cycle computer, why not?

        Wasting money and natural resources on batteries, or time on clipping lights on and off, or having them stolen on a regular basis.. it’s all such a drag. The freedom to just jump on and ride without worrying about your lights is brilliant.

        • Chris 17/01/2014 at 10:47 am #

          Do these still suffer from the fatal flaw of dynamos that I grew up with as a kid in the Seventies?

          If I pointed my light upwards I could blind airline pilots going down a local 1 in 5 hill, but any time I tried to cycle back up it, my speed would drop off so rapidly that my lights would take on the appearance of an anemic firefly within 50 yards of the bottom of the climb!

          Do they have built in batteries or something now?

        • Sean Kelly 17/01/2014 at 10:57 am #

          Frankly Alan, I preferred your work on Watchmen, From Hell, Swamp Thing, etc. than this recent tract.

          Facetiousness aside, how about Reelight magnet-powered lights? No batteries required, not excessively heavy, and can be removed without too much hassle.

        • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 11:10 am #

          You’re talking about those old bottle dynamos pushed against the side of the wheel, Chris – admittedly terrible. But yes, things have moved on. A modern setup gives BRIGHT light with really no noticeable drag, and even stores excess power so that it works for several minutes after you stop.

        • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 11:15 am #

          Har har Sean. The good news is, my even hairier namesake makes the real me unGoogleable!

          Reelight = retrofit equivalent to dynamo hubs, and yes I’ve fitted them to my wife’s bike. They do work, but are slightly clumsy and not as powerful or reliable as a system built in from the start.

    • Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 4:23 pm #

      [[[[[ No ta, Alan. The harder you pedal, the more they drag you back. But is this your deliberately unlikely law? Just asking.
      A.R.

      • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 4:28 pm #

        I defy anyone except a sprint rider to tell the difference. There’s no physical drag, just induction.

      • Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 4:30 pm #

        [[[[[ AHHH! I’ve just seen ALAN’s earlier comments on dragless dynamo’s But are there two Alan Moore’s?
        A.R.

  3. Opus the Poet 14/01/2014 at 4:24 pm #

    How about mandatory driving helmets? And firesuits? They use them in racing so it’s just common sense…

  4. Andrew 15/01/2014 at 7:20 am #

    Perhaps we could confiscate the cars of any driver caught speeding (a breach of the law which kills many people every year) much as the police confiscate the bikes of those they catch running lights. We’d soon have lovely quiet roads all to ourselves.

  5. Paul C 15/01/2014 at 9:44 am #

    Appreciate that this is a bit tongue-in-cheek but the question at the end doesn’t necessarily ask for crazy laws. These are just common sense and should be enforced, not just by Operation Safeway.

    1. Outlaw the use of headphones for all road users. These abominations dramatically reduce or impair road awareness. I would love to extend this to pedestrians, for the same reason, but impractical.
    2. Advanced Stop Line (ASL). Invoke Fixed Penalty Charge Notifications (PCNs) for yellow box, cycle lane and ASL encroachment by non-pedal powered vehicles
    3. Impose loading bay restrictions e.g. Mon–Fri 07:00/09:30 and 16:30/19:00 on all main routes

    • Jules 17/01/2014 at 10:19 am #

      Totally agree with the headphones argument. Once saw a lady in Stockholm cycling home at dusk, no helmet, no lights, no reflectors, earphones in, cycling one handed whilst texting with the other, absolute madness, but to make matters worse she had a child in a child seat on the back…. maddening and gives ammunition to the anti brigade… you can bet if she was run over she would blame the driver! I love cycling but we do ourselves no favors sometimes with our actions on the road, no earphones or iPhones whilst cycling should be a given, and enforced by law if necessary.

    • Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 4:39 pm #

      [[[[[[ Oooh! I’ve thought of a crazy law—-Community Service and a few points on yer licence if you injure a cyclist due to “Driving Without Due Care and Attention”. No, wait—-we already have that, don’t we?
      A.L.

  6. PC 15/01/2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Interestingly, I have just renewed vehicle excise duty for my car, and next to the disc it states:

    ‘This is your tax disc’.

    Note the word ‘tax’. No wonder so many motorists think they pay road tax.

  7. Andy S 15/01/2014 at 6:45 pm #

    I cycle and I’m also a petrol head when i can afford it. In fact when i win the lottery i will treat myself to a full tank of fuel! Sorry i digress…

    Most drivers these days don’t actually know the width of their car. Often there is plenty of room to pull out to the center line and give the rider at least four feet of safe space. Or just hang back, and wait until you can pass.

    Modern cars are point and go, you rally are not driving it much. in many cars you don’t fight a camber with the wheel anymore. You don’t feel the car. And if you could feel the car, you would have greater awareness of the conditions everybody else on the road is experiencing, including the cyclist or motorcyclist. Car design is not helping us to get things right…Drivers should not be in a relaxed coma in their mobile living rooms.

    I don’t wear a helmet as i learned to ride on a Chopper in the 70’s and did my fair share of tumbles without one. But they are a great idea for children and those who want extra safety. But i won’t have some jack booted commissar telling me to wear one. cycling will always carry an element of danger…that’s what we love about it. And a bike will never be a mobile living room with air bags. Shred your bikes…stay safe rockers, as your all Hell’s Angels at heart!

  8. Spencer 15/01/2014 at 11:29 pm #

    Mudguards should be mandatory!

    I soooo love having the bloke in front of me splashing dirty water into my face because he can’t be bothered with proper mudguards.

  9. Phil B 16/01/2014 at 8:18 am #

    Mudguards with full-length mudflaps, and dynamo lighting definitely should be mandatory- you’d see some real investment in reducing size/weight and increasing efficiency from the makers of racing style bikes. I’d also make it illegal to drive any vehicle within a doors’ width of a cyclist, to keep a minimum 5 metres behind and any form of intimidation a fixed £100 penalty.

    • Jozudae 17/01/2014 at 11:27 am #

      Sadly the driving rules you mention there are actually probably covered by existing laws such as due care and attention and reckless driving, but they’re just not enforced properly by the police who often are on the side of the driver or more commonly simply aren’t there to witness it as they can’t be everywhere all the time.

      Personally I’d like there to be a mandatory cycling segment in every driving test including a practical to make drivers really understand the dangers and just how scary inconsiderate driving can be for cyclists. Would probably have to be done in a controlled area, not on the open road because if people started getting knocked off bikes and killed during their driving test then lawsuits would surely follow…

    • Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 4:52 pm #

      [[[[[ Yes, good idea. And here’s another one—-an automatic 10-year driving ban for anyone found guilty of drunk-driving. (ANDREAS….what have you started?)
      A.R.

  10. Frank Byrne 17/01/2014 at 10:28 am #

    One has to assume that Jeremy Clarkson took this photo from the driver’s seat. Surely not legal????????

  11. Rob W 17/01/2014 at 10:33 am #

    (already mandatory on my regular route): Cyclists stationary at junctions, crossings or lights may not under any circumstances place one or both feet on the ground; it is compulsory to sit ostentatiously out of the saddle, tensely hover and twitch until it is time to move ahead.

  12. Dave 17/01/2014 at 10:45 am #

    Did they ever abolish the law requiring a man carrying a red flag to walk in front of a horseless carriage?

    That would be the end of cyclists being killed by motorists. Really effective traffic calming

  13. Robert Walker 17/01/2014 at 10:56 am #

    I cycle every day taking my young children to school and childminders, I am also an Advanced Motircyclist and have passed parts 1 and 2 of my Driving Instructor exams so I think I’m quite a good road user. I think that everytime a car’s VED needs renewing the keeper should have to answer three questions on driving theory. This would mean that drivers would have to keep themselves up to date with the Highway code etc. Anyone not getting 3 out of 3 would have to sit the full theory test, anyone failing that would have to take compulsory driver training and re-take their test.

  14. Ed 17/01/2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Good to see the nutters out in force – Alan Moore. My lights are USB or mains rechargeable and I use rechargeable batteries in other lights.

    Takes all of about 1 second each to fit and remove each light. I never leave them on the bike when out in public – although I do see plenty of morons that do.

    That way mine don’t get nicked. I also use my rear light day and night – a Smart R2 USB rechargeable – £15 from Amazon.

    When the weather is changeable and dull as it is most of the time nowadays I use both front and rear lights.

    All of my bikes have either fully clipless or dual sided pedals. As a result 99% of the time I am wearing SPD shoes. Amazingly all of my Shimano SPD shoes have excellent reflective features not just on the back but on the sides and the laces. This makes them much more visible that some crappy reflectors that aren’t even CE “legal” and IMO utterly pointless.

    To increase my visibility further I have Shwalbe Lugano, Marathon Plus and Continental Sport Contact REFLEX tyres – that’s a reflective band on the whole tyre.

    As well as constantly running my rear light there is not much more I can or am willing to do to make myself more visible.

    Instead of messing about fitting useless Dynamos – I have seen them in use and utterly useless – manufacturers should concentrate on using more reflective paint finishes – even if it is only on the branding graphics.

    However, until this country gets educated and changes it’s whole attitude we are never going to advance relations between motorists and cyclists.

    Unfortunately.

    • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Charming :-/

      I’m not the other Alan Moore you know, he really is a nutter. I’m quite serious.

      I’m not prescribing what technology is used to make them; I just think all bikes should have self-powered lights of a certain minimum brightness. It’s ridiculous the number of people you see without lights.. or just one.. or with batteries just about to run out. I never have to recharge my lights, or carry them, or worry about them getting nicked. I never run out of charge halfway home, I always have my lights on day or night – and the front one in particular is very bright.

      The technology really is there and it works superbly. It’s just not part of the UK cycling culture yet – but the continentals have been doing this for decades.

  15. Dave 17/01/2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Bike theft, identity theft, we get it all here. Seriously though, with the relatively high cost of hub dynamos I have wondered how many batteries one might buy with the money
    One advantage of the hub dynamo is that a phone or satnav can be charged on the run.

    • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 4:14 pm #

      A dynamo hub by itself is already less than £50, how much more is that than the price of a basic hub that you need anyway? At the manufacturing end it’s only going to add a few quid. And the lights need not be much either.. they’d be much simpler than rechargeables.

      Also it’s not just about the cost vs batteries, it’s the convenience (never having to think about bike lights again) and safety benefits (never running out of battery).

      Perhaps we should move this to another thread though Andreas?

    • Alan Moore 17/01/2014 at 4:15 pm #

      Yes I’d love to have a USB charging port on the bike!

  16. Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 4:59 pm #

    [[[[[ I’m thinking of changing my name to “Alan Moore the Third”. Confusing or wot?
    A.L.

  17. Dave 17/01/2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Careful Ally

    That would mean that you can only speak in the third person. (no more I or you only he or they)

    • Alehouse Rock 17/01/2014 at 9:56 pm #

      [[[[[ DAVE……….eeeks! Is that (third person) a new compulsory for cyclists?
      A.R.

      • Dave 18/01/2014 at 7:33 pm #

        Hi Ally

        It’s not a cycling law, but a grammatical one. If you wish to use Allan Moore the third, then you need to speak in the third person as the first person is Allan Moore the first, the second person is Allan Moore the second, making you the third person.
        Just saying…

        • Alehouse Rock 18/01/2014 at 8:27 pm #

          [[[[[[ Yeah, I know……I was just joking.
          A.L.

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