Cyclists or teddy bears; who's the most dangerous?
A hot topic this month in the world of British cycling has been the plan by Tory MP Andrea Leadsom to bring in a new Bill to target dangerous cyclists (Covered here among other places).
Although the number of people killed in the UK by cyclists is around one every other year, she still feels it's important to send a message to these two-wheeled potential killers. Her example case is of a cyclist hitting a pedestrian who'd strayed into the road. To make things worse, he'd reportedly shouted at the victim 'I'm not going to stop!' before hitting her.
This, on the face of it, sounds terrible but others have pointed out that if we look at the case in a little bit more detail, we get a very different picture. In fact, the pedestrian concerned was drunk and had deliberately walked into the road to try and block the cyclist for a laugh (a point mentioned in the comments to this Cycling Weekly article). I've unfortunately had personal experience of this. I've had drunk people deliberately step in front of me on several occasions. In addition, more than once one of them has tried to hit me or throw something at me while I've been cycling. Drunk people are a double hazard because they not only deliberately block you but they have no idea of how fast you're going. In the light of this, the comment 'I'm not going to stop' made by the cyclist concerned could have meant 'I can't stop in time' rather than 'I'm willing to hit you with my bike'. It's an important difference. It was still a tragedy, but not seemingly a case of a cyclist being a menace.
That particular case aside, it's very odd to get angry about cyclists killing people at all. Cyclists in the UK, on average, kill half a person a year (or one person every other year which sounds less strange) but they themselves suffer around four hundred fatalities a year. It's like demonising London people in the Blitz for having traffic accidents. Cyclists are certainly unpopular amongst the right wing press (this Evening Standard article is a good example). The usual rants are there - jumping red lights, not using lights, being sanctimonious etc - with an undercurrent of plain resentment that cyclists are a) healthier b) can go through traffic quickly and c) are being environmentally friendly. But even then, demonising them as dangerous killers?
To put things in perspective, I thought I'd hunt for a worse killer. I didn't have to look far. A much bigger killer is the humble teddy bear. Looks cute, doesn't it? Who'd not want to have one in their home? But they're KILLERS!!! In the United States, an average of twenty-two people are killed every year by teddy bears. The UK population is about 20% to 25% of the size of the U.S. so I'm guessing roughly 5 people are killed every year in the UK by teddy bears. The evil toys do it usually by being trip hazards. They kill sober, innocent children and adults. Evil Teddy Bears! They're ten times more dangerous than cyclists! How bad is that!
Hopefully, a Tory MP will soon bring in a BIll to change the law in this country to punish not only Teddy Bears but those harbouring Teddy Bears, Teddy Bear makers, the causes of Teddy Bears and anyone trying to defend Teddy Bears as a positive part of society that are only very rarely the cause of a tragic death. If we're soft on Teddy Bears, we're just opening ourselves up to even worse abuses by soft toys. No molly-coddling from left-wing liberals! Be strong! Make our country safer! Punish those 'I'm cuddlier than you', sanctimonious, allergy inducing, choking hazard monsters!!!!