Political correctness rears its head again.
On the local radio station this morning, there was an announcement of a range of increased fines for existing and newly created traffic “offences”.
It is no longer just police cars stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing that must be given a wide berth. Now any emergency vehicles stopped with lights flashing, including tow trucks must be treated the same.
The mind boggles at how many accidents this might cause as nervous motorists, desperate to avoid the $300 fine, cut into busy centre and fast lanes.
The linguistic wizards in the Ontario government are not content with bastardising the English language by convicting speeding drivers of “stunt driving” when no stunts are being performed. That and “street racing” when neither competitors nor timing devices are seen are merely excuses for extracting larger fines from drivers than if they were merely caught speeding.
Now a new and weird sounding offence of “dooring” has been created. This hints at some sort of deviant behaviour by old men in dirty rain coats. It’s not, it is a new word dreamed up to describe the moment of impact between a cyclist and a car door being opened to allow a driver or passenger to get out of a parked vehicle.
We are already forced to allow slow-moving cyclists a full lane width to wobble along, now we have to risk dislocating our necks to spot them lurking in our blind spots, before opening our car doors.
I am not an anarchist, I do believe laws are necessary, however this latest increase in penalties, seems more about increasing government revenues and political correctness, than road safety.
I also enjoyed cycling when I lived in a part of the world that had road shoulders wide enough to let cyclists and motor vehicles to coexist safely.
No amount of bizarrely named legislation or exorbitant penalties will hide the fact that slow-moving, unprotected cyclists and fast, heavy motor vehicles are a dangerous combination on the same piece of asphalt.
I can see some merit in trying to improve safety for cyclists in cities and built up areas with low speed limits. However expecting huge transport rigs, trucks, farm equipment and cars to creep along behind a solitary cyclist weaving down a busy country road is a recipe for frustration and disaster.
The consequences of allowing political correctness to drive legislation.
The claim that cycling is a “green” form of transport is totally refuted by the extra gallons of diesel and gasoline burned by queues of heavy vehicles crawling along in low gear waiting for an opportunity to pass. An opportunity that becomes all too rare on narrow roads now that drivers must allow 1 metre clearance between the side of their vehicle and the cyclist.
Cyclists can wobble half that distance in a heart beat, all of it with one push of the pedal.
One cyclist causing dozens of vehicles an hour to slow down not only promotes global warming, it is selfish, and it affects the productivity of many people.
It’s time that cyclists were restricted to roads with wide shoulders in the rural areas or kept off the roads in periods of peak traffic volume.
The one good change to the traffic laws is that cyclists will now be fined for riding with no lights at night. That is long overdue, now it remains to be seen if it will be enforced.
My argument against cyclists on rural roads is not aimed at those serious riders training for races and riding at 40 kph. It is with those who are unable to ride at more than 10 kph, cannot pedal in a straight line and make no attempt to allow motorised vehicles to pass.
This is not so much about cyclists in particular as the continual interference by big government in our everyday lives. There are a range of existing laws to cover careless or negligent driving, speeding and unsafe overtaking. It seems that government cannot resist exploiting every opportunity to remove cash from people in the name of protecting some group or the other.
Political correctness and the “green” image of cycling lets government promote the “rights” of a small minority at the cost of inconveniencing and punishing the majority.
It’s motorists that are being targeted today, who will be next?