Last night we had the story of a biker killed waving to other bikers standing on an over-bridge, because thus distracted the biker ran into the back of stationary traffic. To stop a repeat the police this year (it was an annual biker meet that spawned the unfortunate incident) tried to dissuade people from standing there waving. To achieve this they sent two traffic bikes and a BBC film crew. Now I'm not saying that this additional and unusual activity made any difference, but they were able to film a smash on the road below, caused as voiceover man said, 'by a moment's inattention.' Caused by what, I wonder.
The bit that really struck me though was the cyclist. He was spotted by the Traffic Cops cycling without lights and just before they got to him, he went straight through a red light. Initially, as they came alongside, he went up on the pavement and wouldn't stop, despite blue lights and a shout from an officer. Eventually he did, and cue a very dim wattage conversation from both sides. To be fair the police were intending on just warning him about the lack of lights and tell him to walk, but he decided to argue. The officer however seemed equally unable to make his argument cogent. At one point he accused him of being drunk, then said 'forget about that, you haven't got any lights.' Personally, I would think being drunk might have led to most of his wrong thinking and that was what was putting him in danger in the first place, but as we know, the police know best.
So for arguing, they decided to charge him with no lights, running a red light, riding on the pavement and failing to stop for police. He wanted to go to court. Bad idea. Not sure if he thought the arrogant attitude with which the police are imbued hasn't reached elsewhere (he obviously doesn't talk to his local authority either) but he was in for a shock. The court decided to 'make an example' of him and fined him £700 with over £200 costs. I'm not sure who else s was going to know and thus benefit from this 'example' but I'm not sure that is how justice works. Unless the BBC had promised to make the decision public via their film, which again adds just a little more corruption to the administration of justice. The man was clearly a pillock and the safety (his safety) was the main issue, but all this 'example' stuff just shows an arrogant but ultimately weak minded system. Almost as if inserted by God to emphasise the point, as the police were berating (rather than dealing) with the miscreant a dopey woman in a car drove towards them with no lights on. She was stopped and informed of her error, put her lights on and was allowed to then go on her way as, we were informed by the ever knowledgeable voiceover man, 'being in a car with no lights on you are much safer than on a bike'. Not brilliant for pedestrians crossing a road I would guess, or other traffic at junctions and it is an offence, but hey, it's all about proportionality and fairness.
The cyclist thing chimed with me because, in my days as a Special there was an incident where a magistrate had nearly killed someone riding without lights so wanted something done about it. That meant a town with usually about four policemen on duty at any one time, being treated to a flood of uniforms as 8 Specials and some extra regulars were ordered to disperse around town and deal (usually just warn) cyclists about the need for lights. It rankled me then too, because much as I agreed with the safety angle, the fact that it was on the personal whim (and anger) of a magistrate struck me as being wrong. However it did throw up one amusing moment. A foot patrol stopped a bloke and warned him to walk with the bike as he had no lights. So he stomped off and got back on just around the corner. He was then seen and stopped by a traffic car that decided to warn him that there was a drive on to deal with that and a magistrate on the warpath, but chummy decided to go nuts and said that he had already been stopped once! Oops. Out came the fixed penalty ticket.....