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.
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?
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.”
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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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.