26 Apr 2015

26th April 2015 Rant, rant against the dying of the right to life.

Sunday 26th 45F, 7C, overcast, occasional rain with only a light breeze. I am being sent on my walk. It was just spitting lightly as I returned an hour and a half later. A few geese and Shelducks added life to my usual route. It rained for most of the day so I used it as an excuse for another rest day. My knees have been aching recently but this may be to climbing ladders rather than cycling.

Oh no, he's off on his soapbox again! Lest there is any doubt. I post my rants because I can. It saves me bottling up the anger which was always at the forefront when I commuted daily by bike and trike. I often used to get to work absolutely fuming at the utter senselessness and selfishness of drivers. Now I can smile at my pointless words and the length of my rants. This is despite the best efforts of what are basically, countless psychopathic bullies riding in massive, dodgem cars. Haring along on a worldwide race track without a care in the world. How else can one describe the behaviour of so many drivers?

Why is slowing down, however briefly, for a slower moving obstruction such a massive blow to their egos? Such an affront to their place in the rigid hierarchy of vehicle ownership? Or is it just an irritating, but monetary blip, in their [usually absent] concentration? Is that the secret? They don't want to pay for their motoring convenience by being returned to hideous reality even for a moment? Driving seems so easy. Anyone can do it. You have to kill "loads of people" just to get your license taken away. A driving license is a basic human right and must be returned ASAP even to a habitual "serial killer!" 

How hard is it to apply the brakes gently [or much more likely] simply lift off the accelerator pedal slightly? They always slow down to stare at an "accident." Even if it risked the lives of drivers too dumb to slow down for the other ghouls up ahead. They would certainly slow down to a kerb crawl if a couple of pretty young women in bikinis were walking, two abreast, down the side of the road! Should cycling and walking only be allowed for attractive young women in bikinis? This might be rather weather sensitive and accidents might actually increase! Better not go there!

A cyclist usually has to work quite hard to regain lost speed. A driver just has to press a soft pedal ever so slightly and completely effortlessly. Which is the greater task? Pedalling or pressing a pedal? Why does the driver [who has to exert so little effort] resent having to accelerate back up to their previous [and probably illegal] speed? Think about that for a moment...

What is it about cars which makes drivers feel so utterly invulnerable that they will risk the lives of others, including children, to avoid slowing even slightly? Drivers seem to develop an antipathy towards other road users because their own perceived, personal risks are so incredibly low. I have always said that seat belts and air bags should be replaced with a long, sharp spike in the middle of the steering wheel. How else can you concentrate their minds on the hideous and bloody reality of hitting something living? Hitting a fellow human being with a sledgehammer weighing over a ton and moving so incredibly fast that it smashes literally everything in its path. The damage to flesh and bone makes shooting people look [almost] like a harmless hobby!  

Perhaps drivers caught speeding, or for any moving traffic infringements, should be sent to car breakers yards at frequent intervals? Make them examine the carnage of everyday motoring life. Give them a real sledgehammer to see ow incredibly hard it is to damage a car in reality. Then compare their feeble efforts with the results of any RTA.

I have twice seen the aftermath of horrific "accidents" in Denmark and another in the UK. On one occasion I saw a family car ripped wide open! It was resting against the motorway central barrier and facing the "wrong way." A young woman was trying desperately to pull her baby out of the open side of the car. She was standing in the overtaking lane as cars sped by apparently oblivious to the perils of her, and her baby's, situation. Were these drivers literally on auto-pilot? Were they so "out of it" that they could not see a brightly coloured car ahead with a "real" person standing in the middle of the "fast" lane? The motorway is completely straight for miles at this point and weather conditions were perfect. Do you sneer, or just wonder, at those who cause concertina pile-ups on motorways? What was the young woman doing which caused her to end up in such a precarious situation? Texting? Using her mobile phone, behind the wheel, as so many countless others do without an obvious care?

The second "accident" was at a village crossroads on a route I have travelled many hundreds of times over the last two decades. This crossroads is almost blind to cars on the main road from one direction. They get only 200 yards of straight road to prepare themselves for the crossroads. Otherwise all other branches are very long straights with excellent visibility. Approach speeds on the main road, from both directions, in this 30mph/50kph zone, are typically 70kph according to the speed indicator board. 70kph is 44mph. Or ~50% above the legal speed limit. At 44mph 85% of pedestrians and cyclists will die compared with a much lower fraction at the legal speed limit.

This illegal speed of ~45mph is true for all motor traffic on the main road except when an "inconvenience" occurs. Such as when a vehicle wants to turn off at the crossroads. Near "rear-enders" are so commonplace that it is completely routine. They miss seeing the indicators of the turning vehicle and then have to brake violently to avoid an "accident". That'll be the "sensory deprivation" of modern vehicles at work. Sensory deprivation means the absence of sense. Common or otherwise. 

Imagine our horror when we arrived in our own car from the 'blind' direction to find a vehicle on its roof! Several other cars were damaged and at odd angles to the road or even lying on their sides. A tractor was involved somehow and the elderly "farmer" was crying, waving his arms and wandering about in an obvious state of shock.

The "star attraction" in all this mayhem was a car which was either crushed to half its width. Or had been literally sliced in half lengthways. A pretty girl sat in the driver's seat of what little remained. She was ashen faced and there was obviously nowhere left where her legs should have been. There was nobody standing anywhere near her or her damaged car. Perhaps nobody present was prepared for the hideous reality of what had actually happened to her on her simple journey from A to B. They just couldn't cope with the sight of somebody dying so horribly in their warm, comfy and fuzzy everyday reality. All this occurred in a 30mph / 50kph zone. How is it even possible to slice a car in half lengthways at 30mph? The obvious answer is that it is not possible at 30mph even with approaching vehicle both travelling at the same [legal] speed. Twice 30mph is 60mph. Twice 45mph is 90mph collision speed. That 50% increase is probably what cut her vehicle in two and left nowhere for her legs to continue their normal existence. I have often seen very much higher approach speeds on the indicator board just before this crossing.

I still pass this same point several times a week on my trike. Most of the traffic is still travelling at a steady 44-45mph in a zone which is still clearly marked as 30mph [50kph] at frequent intervals. The "lollipop" signs are erected for miles in all directions. I have to suppress my rage against the speeding driver's pointless selfishness and utter stupidity but have no real outlet except for my equally pointless rants. [Call them personal therapy.]

Despite the obvious carnage we never found anything about the "accident" in the local paper. So have no idea whether the girl even survived her horrific injuries. The nearest emergency station was already alerted and only a couple of miles away. The traffic was still flowing slowly through the carnage so we got out of the way. I have felt guilty ever since that I did not stop and try to comfort the poor girl. There would probably have been hopeless language difficulties and I certainly have no emergency first aid skills to offer. But I still remember her ashen face and shiver involuntarily sometimes as I pass the spot where she was sitting so still. Would I have been quite so concerned if some "stupid old git" had been sitting in the same "half a car?" It is so easy to dehumanise others in unthinkable ways when they fit our programming.

The kommune [county council] seems to be widening the road from the blind side of these same crossroads. They have cut down all the mature, roadside trees which once decorated this pretty stretch on both sides of the road. The road already seems twice as wide without the narrowing psychological hurdles of massive tree trunks. Without doubt approach speeds will rise even further once the machines have gone and the entire road is perfectly resurfaced at full width. I can guarantee that the speed indicator board just before the crossroads will continue to flash its utterly useless warnings to every passing vehicle. Most of which are travelling well above the speed limit and have passed before the lights can react! Just as so many other village speed indicator boards flash uselessly far more often than merely indicating the legal speed of passing vehicles. But life goes on.

There was nothing in the local paper when a young man turned abruptly and stepped into the speeding traffic on a hill into Bath. He somersaulted like a rag doll as a car hit him hard at about 30mph. Now the young man was a serious inconvenience to the morning rush hour commuters! He was selfishly lying all twisted up in the roadway. Several drivers took it upon themselves to lift him and prop him limply against a garden wall on the opposite side of the road. The RTA "victim" was behaving like a floppy Guy Fawkes figure and not taking his "propping up" at all seriously. He was clearly unconscious or perhaps even dead by the time they had finished with him! 

I argued with the drivers to leave him alone until the expected ambulance men could asses his obviously serious injuries. But I was just a cyclist and had no authority amongst drivers still in auto-psychopath mode. They just climbed back into their vehicles and drove off to their globally important tasks for the day.

I had been riding downhill on the opposite side of the road when the "accident" happened. He seemed to have been walking fairly normally until he made his sudden turn just prior to a completely blind corner. I doubt he ever walked again by the time the psychos had straightened out his damaged limbs to make him easier to carry! I wonder if the psychopaths would have been quite so unthinking if the victim had been an attractive young woman. Would she have been more "real" to them as a person? Or just another road casualty? To be pushed aside like some piece of unwanted road debris. So that they could continue their utterly vital journeys to the office or factory. Are these the same monsters who bayed for death at the Roman games, public execution or enjoy today's "splatter," horror movies?

Click on any image for an enlargement.


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