28 Dec 2011

New, heavier fines for cycling offences in Denmark


Humbug Rant alert!

This would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. The new centre-left Danish government has dropped all of the empty promises it made prior to its election. It has ignored the 95% of drivers who are speeding in every kind of vehicle on the road except cycles! It has ignored the 30%+ of all drivers who use their mobile phones routinely and continuously at the wheel while in motion. It has ignored the 80% of all drivers who completely ignore double white line markings on the roads.

The Danes are still nowhere near reaching their empty promises on carbon emissions. You'd think cycling was the cheapest way to cut emissions and should be encouraged. It has everything going for it including better health. So fewer visits to the doctor and fewer lifestyle diseases. You'd even think cyclists would be rewarded for their selfless courage. (Yes Please!)

The world is in social chaos and political unrest. The EU is in financial meltdown. Rich Danes are getting tens of thousands of pounds (each) in child benefit and social assistance. Their private palaces and castles are being renovated at huge cost to the ordinary (and the world's most heavily burdened) taxpayer.

But! And you really couldn't make this up! The new government has been using its incredibly valuable time to increase fines for cycling offences! Read all about it! Riots in the cycle lanes! Terrorists on the cycle paths!

This list is borrowed from Dansk Cyklistforbund: The Danish Cycling Association: The rough translations in red italics are my own.

 Bøder og takster: Offences & Fines

 Uden lys i lygtetændingstiden 700 kr/ Having no lights on a bike at night:£80/$122US

 Håndholdt mobiltelefon under kørslen 1000 kr/ Hand-held mobile phone use while riding. On an empty cycle path? Or only on the roads? £112/$174

 Fejl/ mangler v/ bremser, reflekser mv. 700 kr/ Mechanical brake faults or lack of reflectors on the cycle: £80/$122

 Kører over for rødt 1000 kr  Jumping a red light. £112/$174 Unlike drivers, the vast majority of cyclists are turning 90¤ into another cycle lane, when they jump the red light. Not crossing the moving lanes of traffic. Which would be suicidal!

 Kører mod færdselsretningen 1000 kr/ Riding against the traffic: £112/$174

 Cykler i et fodgængerfelt 700 kr/ Riding on a pedestrian crossing:£80/$122

 Cykler på cykelstien i venstre side 700 kr/ Riding on the wrong side of a cycle path:£80/$122

 Respekterer ikke færdselstavle eller pile 700 kr/ Failure to respect warning signs and posts:£80/$122

 Overtræder ubetinget vigepligt 1000 kr/ Failure to observe the rules of the road: £112/$174

 Giver ikke tegn 700 kr/ Failure to indicate: £80/$122

 Kører uden hænder på styret 700 kr/ Riding without hands on the bars. Tour of Danmark stage winners excepted? £80/$122

 Cykler på fortov/ gangsti 700 kr/ Riding on the pavement/ footpath: £80/$122

 Holder fast i andet køretøj 700 kr/. Holding onto another vehicle: £80/$122

 To personer på alm. cykel (bøde til begge) 700 kr/ Two people riding on a normal bicycle: £80 each! $122x2= $244!

 Forkert placering før/ mens du svinger 700 kr/ Wrong road placement before and while taking a turn? Hmm? £80/$122

 Ringklokke, der ikke virker: Advarsel/ A warning for a Non-functioning bell.

Usynlighed: Complete invisibility to other road users: The death penalty! No appeal!

Some of these offences are far from trivial. For example: I'd make jumping a red light to cross a junction a fine of £1000 without the slightest hesitation. It irritates the hell out of other road users! But, let's make it £10,000 for doing so in any other vehicle! Which is a far more dangerous moving object to avoid for all other road users.

Driving through red lights is completely routine in Danish cities after the lights change. Often holding up the traffic which is queuing patiently at a filter to turn at the traffic lights. Many filter queues miss their chance to progress several times thanks to late, illegal, selfish, red light runners.

Likewise with riding a bike without lights at night. Stupidly dangerous in traffic. A bright set of front and rear, 5-diode lights can be had for only 25DKK. Or about £2.50 at most supermarkets. So there is little excuse not to have several lights. But, what about the vast numbers of motorists and lorries with missing or faulty lights? I'd put it at a conservative 1 in 4 of all vehicles, on the Danish roads, if you include badly adjusted headlights pointing far too high. I drove 20 miles home in the dark yesterday and was staggered at the number of approaching vehicles with missing or badly adjusted headlights! Instead of being cut off at the back window sill, many 4WDs and people-carriers flood the car ahead with blinding light, when following another vehicle.

What about putting up speed cameras? Denmark's drivers could repay the entire world debt in a week if they automatically fined the vast majority of speeding motorists. All of whom are flagrantly exceeding the speed limit in town, on the motorways and country roads. It i so commonplace that driving at the speed limit attracts tail-gaters like a magnet. They then use any chance to overtake. Often while carrying their entire family. What sort of example is this to the young and impressionable? The next generation of speeding, dangerous and selfish motorists!

Excessive speed uses far more fuel than maintaining a steady speed at the prevailing speed limit. The excessive speed demands harsher braking and harder acceleration. Which dramatically increases fuel consumption! Not to mention vehicle and tyre wear. It also increases the risk of loss of control on wet or wintry roads.

Do you want to hear the finniest thing about all this? If a Dane pays a £50m fine without appeal to a court his speeding offence up to 40mph is dropped from his police record after a couple of years. So speeding in a car past a school. Or through a busy shopping street. Is considered only half as dangerous as many of the cycing offences listed above!! Welcome to Danish alternative reality! Stranger than fiction! The Twilight Zone... Woo-oo-ooh. :-)

What about making car chip (performance) tuning illegal? You see plates outside garages offering this service. What about crushing the cars of of multiple, drink driving offenders without licenses, insurance or road tax? What about making it illegal to leave the engine running while a vehicle is parked? An amazing number of diesel owners leave the engine running while they visit shops and supermarkets. Do diesel starter motors really suffer from such incredibly poor reliability?

At least one in five of all drivers don't (ever) indicate when exiting a roundabout. The vast majority of drivers indicate far too late at junctions and exits for the information to be of any use to other road users. Causing long queues while people wait to enter a supermarket car park. Only for the approaching vehicle to finally indicate its intention when it is already parked in the car park and the driver is halfway to the checkouts!

The vast majority of drivers haven't a clue about matching their speed to motorway or trunk road traffic. Then, once they have reached the speed limit, having caused a dangerous but temporary tailback, they continue to accelerate to 20-30 kph over the speed limit! Every single time! I guarantee you could place bets on it and become rich overnight!

Ironically, in Denmark you aren't allowed to learn to drive without qualified driving instructor tuition. By far the worst driving I have seen are these driving school cars with only the instructor behind the wheel. So who's watching the instructors?

Anyway, let's hear it for pedal transport! Saviours of the world! Where do I queue for my bløødy medal?

PS I have just fitted Mr Higgins with the statuary, CE approved, bright orange, spoke reflectors. He is sulking and threatening never to come out of the shed again. ;-)

PS:  Razzia: Over 100 cyklister fik bøder - fyens.dk - Odense



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