Reap what you sow

A commonly raised trope amongst the driving community is that there is some kind of clandestine war on the motorist. This ‘opinion’ is formed when those in a position of huge entitlement and privilege suddenly find their unchallenged societal priority comes under threat. The under threat positioning is described well here by Peter Walker but I’ll leave him to describe that in better words than I could.

My aim is to highlight a slightly different perspective. I’m very much of the opinion that *if* drivers had listened to the growing pressure that behaviours needed to change, *if* they had taken on board criticism of poor driver behaviours, *if* drivers had actually watched the growth of vehicular traffic around them and recognised it was not sustainable….then maybe they might not be in the position they’re in now. But I’m leaping ahead. Lets look more at the detail.


Give me a break. You’re sat in your car, in a queue of other cars. You’ve all caused that queue, every single one of you. Not one of you is exempt from blame. You will of course try and move the responsibility across to absolutely everyone else. Cyclists is a common one, the irony in not blaming other drivers is never lost on me, roadworks (because the roads have been damaged from too many cars), upgrades (see above), buses, lorries, taxis. Anything but you.

But it’s you. Look in the mirror if you’re trying to blame any queue you’re stuck in. Look in the mirror and say “This is my fault”. Don’t want to sit in a queue of cars with other queuing people? Don’t take a car to where queues happen. It’s your fault.

China witnesses toll-free holiday travel peak[1]|

Cycles Lanes
Well this is a very common one, drivers mistakenly think they alone pay for the roads which is beyond ridiculous but that’s not our focus. Drivers believe cyclists should have to pay for cycle lanes because they think they have to pay for driving roads. The basic fact is, cycle lanes would not be needed if all drivers were sensible and drove safely. Imagine that. Imagine complaining about infrastructure that’s needed because you can’t be trusted to use your vehicle in a safe manner. You’re reaping what you sow.

Low Traffic Networks

This is very relevant at the time of writing. For decades, drivers have terrorised dwellers on residential streets by using those streets to bypass the busier, more congested main roads. A scenario previously restricted to cabbies and locals, with the advent of dynamic navigational aids, now anyone can use the street where your kids want to play out on as a rat run. And you’ve got to drive fast haven’t you? Otherwise you’re limiting the benefit you receive cutting out that 200 metres of queuing traffic. So councils respond by putting up 20mph speed limits and maybe even some speed humps, even a little sign begging drivers not to use these streets. Did that stop them? Of course not.

Suck it up chumps, should have listened when you were asked. Any idea what you’re reaping here?

1. Making the case for a low traffic neighbourhood -
(Note to the reader. The road isn’t closed, it’s only closed to vehicular through traffic)

Speed Cameras

If there were a single subject guaranteed to evoke an irrational response from entitled drivers, it’s speed cameras. I mean, speed cameras wouldn’t even exist if drivers didn’t break the speed limit so irrespective of whether your views are that they are strong safety tools or whether they are simply deployed to raise money, the answer to both is ‘align your speedometer reading with the posted speed limit as a clever way to avoid getting speeding tickets’. Which sounds simple in practice but really does seem to be beyond the literal millions of drivers who get caught every single year. This is reaping what you sow at a very individual level. If you’ve got a speeding ticket, the next logical step to resolve the issue for the future is too embarrassing for me to tell you.

The truth about speed cameras and how they catch you - Daily Record

You have to feel sorry for drivers[1]. They’ve had to buy an expensive car, pay for the fuel it runs on, pay for the fumes that fuel creates and now they have to pay for the damage they might cause![2]

Now wonder they feel like cash cows. All they want to do is drive about the place as is their god-given right, occasionally drive into things they didn’t see and then drive off. Why should they have to pay for that?

*those people* don’t have to have insurance …/points at person doing 10mph on a 30lb bike who would hurt only themselves if they rode into something, why do I have to pay? Well the scientific answer is physics. Cars are strong, heavy and capable of moving very fast. They’re not squishy and slow like cyclists. The financial answer is that the damage cars cause when they’re driven into something is significant but the more important answer is, when cars are driven into squishy things, the squishy things *always* come off worse. I mean, you *could* actually open your frigging eyes and not drive into things but despite all the evidence to the contrary, safety campaigners often seem to have a lot of trouble telling drivers to stop driving into things and people and find it much easier to tell the people they keep driving into, to wear a yellow coat.

Still, insurance for road users who keep racking up billions in direct and incurred costs is here to stay and it’s incredibly unlikely to be applied to road users who even at full tilt, have an incredibly difficult time damaging anything other than their own, soft skin. The fundamental advice, if you’ve not guessed it yet is, if you don’t want to have to pay high insurance costs, maybe stop driving into things and people all the time. Insurance costs are directly related to how you drive.

[1] No you don’t
[2] Other travel options where you don’t have to pay any of this are available.

Video and pix: Car crashes into a house in York | YorkMix

Parking enforcement

In some way I would laugh at any driver complaining about parking enforcement. Outside of London parking enforcement is largely a joke. People can generally leave their car where they want without any repercussions. There’s a view that leaving your car anywhere on the public highway is an unalienable right through some misguided relationship between road space and vehicle duty. The fact of the matter is, bad parking is hugely anti-social but more importantly puts people lives at risk when they are forced off the pavement and onto the road. Outside of London you have to park really, really badly before you’ll come to the attention of the authorities. Meanwhile every poor sod who happens upon your vehicle will have to find some way to deal with it. That thousands of badly parked vehicles aren’t vandalised every single day is beyond me and I wouldn’t care if they were.

So don’t ever whinge about parking. Want to get back to your car and find it without a parking ticket, not vandalised or clamped/towed away, park it sensibly where it’s not causing problems for people. Again, if any of these things have happened to you, you are literally experiencing the consequences of your actions.

Pavement parking UK - What is the law, is it illegal and can you receive a  fine? |

All these limitations on driver enjoyment are in place because of one thing only. It’s not cyclists or councils. It’s not subversive active travel aficionados wreaking their evil way. It’s not communists or left wingers halting capitalism or any other bizarre claims that drivers may put forwards.

The fault for all these restrictions is entirely, 100% on the shoulders of drivers.

8 thoughts on “Reap what you sow

  1. Really interesting read, although it seems a bit like a gripe against car drivers.

    As a neutral (I drive and cycle), I’d like to play devil’s advocate here a little if that’s ok?

    With Queues and traffic, it’s usually caused by an accident or roadworks of some kind. That’s not the fault of car drivers or cyclists. And I think the thought should be for the person who has been in the accident (if it is an accident)… Have some empathy.

    On cycle lanes and low traffic areas, I see cars and cyclists be idiots all the time. I was crossing a road with my daughter in her pram – it was a green man – a CYCLIST ran the red light and narrowly missed the pram by mere inches, and then when I shouted at him, he shouted back and gave me the finger… WTF!! And when I was waiting at a separate traffic light a car intentionally drove near the kerb, through a puddle just to attempt to intentionally splash me… WTF!!
    The common thread here is some people are idiots – whether they ride a bike or drive a car, idiots will be idiots.

    Same with parking. The picks you show are so annoying. They cause my blood to boil. Know what else does that? When I chain my bike to a railing, go into a shop, and when I come out some other cyclist has chained their bike to the same railing, OVER MY BIKE.

    So… Cyclists… Car drivers… People in general… All need to stop being idiots and doing stupid shit, so that we can all just get on with life without getting angry at each other all the time!

    1. I think you may benefit from reading this again. Most queues and traffic are caused by too many motor vehicles. Rush hour traffic isn’t caused by roadworks or so-called accidents, it’s caused by too many people using vehicles that are big enough to carry 5+ people, but in reality, carry just 1 person most of the time.

      Where it is a result of roadworks, this is usually a consequence of either repairing the damage caused by motor vehicles or the construction of new roads or widening of existing roads to accommodate more motor vehicles.

      On the subject of road accidents, in almost every instance, they’re the result of driver error. This is why the police abandoned ‘accident’ in favour of ‘collision’ and now refer to them as RTCs and not RTAs.

      You’re correct to say some people are idiots irrespective of their mode of transport. However, this misses the point that it’s the consequences of behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself that should be of concern to any rational person. Idiot cyclists tend to be annoying. Idiot drivers tend to kill, injure or cause massive amounts of property damage.

      The point Jon is making is that drivers, as an in-group, have a tendency to externalise the effects of their group’s actions and choices. They ignore or downplay their own involvement and look to out-groups to take the blame or make claims they’re being treated unfairly.

    2. This is always a good thing to aim for but it has to be said that the consequences of thoughtless or distracted actions are potentially far worse when a car is involved. If it had been a car on that ped crossing would it even have missed you?

      But yes, everyone has a part to play.

    3. I’m not sure about using whataboutery as a tactic to play devil’s advocate. Writer pens a thoughtful piece on the impacts car drivers have on others and themselves. Valid arguments need to be about what the writer has written (or omitted to write) about their chosen subject, not about a different subject. I’m sure there’s a great article that could be written about careless cyclists, but this isn’t it.

    4. I appreciate that there are people driving cars badly and riding bikes badly. I do think it’s false equivalence though. A bad driver can kill many people.

      Everyone driving a car with a licence is a motorist, I am unsure if every person on a bike you could class as cyclist. You need to pass a theory and practical driving test to be able to drive a machine with the power and weight to be able to smash through a building. The is a reasonable barrier to entry for being able to drive a car.

      The same cannot be said about cycling, you just need to be able to get your hands on a bike and physically be able to ride it and you’re away. The reason for this is to make cycling as accessible as possible and because a bike can only go as fast as it’s user can carry it*.

      *Yes electric bikes exist.

      Road users are held to a higher standard because they have such a greater ability to inflict severe damage. You are piloting 3 tonne piece of machinery FFS.

      That’s not to say that the bad things you saw people on bikes do is acceptable it’s just that bad driving has considerably more chance of seriously injuring or killing others. Your post makes it seem like poor behavior on a bike is the same as poor driving in a car, it’s not.

      The is a good reason you don’t see bicycles used in terror attacks.

      A bad driver can kill, a bad cyclist almost always will do injury to themselves. Don’t hold poor cycling to the same standard as poor driving.

      Poor driving is much more dangerous. That’s not to say bad cycling should not be called-out when you witness it.

      Drivers have formal training and should know better.

    5. I am very curious to know what you think causes crashes (they are not accidents) if you believe it’s not drivers or cyclists..

      1. I would say accidents are unavoidable, caused by mechanical failings for example, or the driver suffering some sort of unexpected physical condition that leads to an accident. Hitting something or someone because you didn’t see them, couldn’t stop in time, didn’t expect them to move out into the road, are not really accidents, the driver is deciding not to take the time to look properly, to drive faster than is safe in that situation, not to anticipate what other road users may do. These are bad decisions made by drivers, as such the consequences may be accidental but not the actions that lead to them.

      2. I’d mostly agree although I would expect many mechanical failures are due to a failure to properly maintain vehicles.

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