Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Killer drivers could avoid jail"

So says the BBC. And this is supposed to be news? Killer drivers in the UK routinely avoid any sort of significant penalty at all, especially if they "merely" run over a few cyclists. For a particularly extreme case of driving far too fast for the conditions (icy road) in an unfit vehicle and thus killing no fewer than 4 people, a 180 quid fine (and that was for the bald tyres, of course) is just par for the course...(don't take any notice of the Daily Wail headline, they are written by idiots, all sound and fury, signifying nothing - the police announced it was all just an "accident" before they'd even bothered to check whether the car was fit for the road).

Meanwhile ex-Tory MP hacks peddle hateful vitriol in the gutter press about how cyclists should be garotted. Oh, that was funny, so the victims of these vicious and cowardly attacks shouldn't really mind.

One thing I really like about Japan is that in 6 years here I have encountered less hostility, impatience and aggression than I would expect in a typical week in the UK. It's nothing to do with Japanese drivers being skilled or well-trained (they are neither), just that they are prepared to treat people outside their vehicle as if they are also human.


skanky said...

Even if he'd not mentioned decapitation, Matthew Parris shows his general level of idiocy in saying things like (paraphrase) - create large amounts of pollution and poison, but don't have bad manners.

This bit is also a bit bizarre:

"Driving or walking, don't you just hate the way that, riding two or three abreast, they shout and curse at you or whir their angry little bells, as though it's your problem that they need to clear the way?"

Has he ever tried walking down the road in front of cars? Does he live in the one area of the world where car drivers never use their horn "as though it's your problem that they need to clear the way?"

C W Magee said...

I generally slow down and say good morning to pedestrians on a bike path, but then, I'm not British.

James/Jules: Have y'all done much touring in Japan, or do you mostly just commute/ Mtn bike?

James Annan said...


The vast bulk of our riding is commuting (including commuting by mountain bike). But we've done a little bit of touring - eg here and here, plus shorter trips I've not written about. Just last weekend we cycled to an onsen in fact. But in general we prefer to spend our holidays walking in the mountains.

C W Magee said...

Nice pics, but I have to ask:
Did you guys ride the vine bridge?

James Annan said...

Sadly, it was pedestrian only! Actually IIRC it was small smooth round logs under-foot, which would have been a bit awkward for cycling.

James Annan said...

Hey, I'm top (and 2nd) google image search for kazurabashi. But here is a clearer picture of the bridge.

Nosmo said...

It is just as bad in the US often get off just as easily. Bob Mionske a lawyer with a column at recently wrote a series of articles with many illustrations of similar behavior and basic police prejudice against cyclists.

James Annan said...

Hi Nosmo,

Yes I had the impression that cycling was generally regarded as a rather unAmerican activity (of course any true patriot would burn oil as fast as possible). In the UK, one is part hooligan, part pond-scum (although the stats indicate we are actually richer than the average). In Japan, a cyclist is just someone's neighbour, or even relative. Although a small proportion of them do sometimes get harassed by police for the suspicious activity of riding while foreign - but that's not really a cycling issue.