Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Elephant in the Garage

Just saw yet another article online, claiming that cyclists no longer belong on 'our' (by which the writer means 'motorists') roads. These articles are ten-a-penny recently. Apparently, many motorists want to help us stay safe on the roads by denying our right to use them. If they're so concerned about our safety, rather than finding a solution that restricts the travel options of the potential victims of traffic collisions, I think maybe the motorists should take a good hard look in the mirror and see if they can find a better solution in what they see there.

Because let's face facts: motorists have only the privilege of using the roads. They lost the 'right' to use the road, beginning in the early 1900s, after the death toll from motoring caused a public outcry which resulted in governments around the world revoking motorists' right to the road and demanding that they pass tests and become licensed road users. Since then, the death toll has not declined. In fact it has skyrocketed. Clearly, licensing is not enough. If anything, testing and licensing may make the situation worse, as it appears to give motorists a false sense of entitlement.

Many motorists seem to think their licenses give them a divine right to behave poorly on the road. They routinely speed, as if speeding were perfectly safe and natural. They use cellphones to talk and text while driving; they drive drunk; they run stop signs and red lights, etc., etc., etc. And this wouldn't be so bad if their actions resulted in death only extremely rarely. But the fact is, a person is killed on the world's roads by a motorist every 30 seconds! This, apparently, is the elephant in the living room (or, in this case, in the garage) that we, as members of a polite society, are not to speak of.

But I think something more needs to be done, because it's quite obvious that motorists do not understand that their having been given privileged status was not some sort of advanced road user's diploma. On the contrary, it was (and still is) a demotion, a mark of censure: lets not forget that driver's licenses are a reminder to us all that motorists cannot be fully trusted on the road.

The real question is this: should there really be a guaranteed place for the car on our streets anymore? When is enough carnage enough? Isn't it time we started to take away the privilege of using a motor vehicle on the roads from those who have shown an unwillingness or inability to use their cars safely? When is the government going to get tough on road users who are abusing 3,000+lb vehicles on the road and who often don't even show a hint of remorse when, as a result, they kill someone.

Drivers who rail against cyclists, when motorists kill over a million people per year, ought to be ashamed of themselves! This witch hunt against cyclists must stop. It's about time we started a justifiable witch hunt against incompetent and dangerous drivers. They, not cyclists, are the real problem, and there's a simple solution: permanently revoke the licenses of drivers whose actions result in death on the roads. I think the fact that driving is a privilege needs to be brought home to motorists, who don't seem to understand that privileges can, and should, be revoked when people abuse them.

As cycling advocates, let's never forget that a driving license does not give its owner a right to the road. On the contrary, it's a reminder that that right was taken away from all motorists - and it was taken away for good reason.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on, Ian.

    We tried a couple years ago to argue for higher standards for motorists. It hasn't gotten too far.

    Motorists should face real danger of having their driving privileges revoked just as a drunken airline pilot would immediately be unemployed. Sadly, its not happening.