Is Top Cop in Cyclist Denial?
In a remarkable episode which raises serious questions about the culture at the heart of road safety enforcement in the UK, hear the tale of Mr Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, and former Senior officer on road safety.for the Association of Chief Police Officers.
He appeared before Wrexham Magistrates Court on the 5th December 07, where a guilty plea was entered in his absence for driving at 90mph in a 60mph zone. He was banned from driving for six weeks and given a £300 fine. He had already received two £60 fines and six penalty points on his licence for earlier driving offences.
Mr Hughes said 'There is never an excuse for bad driving and I should have paid more attention to my speed.". By way of explanation he stated the weather on the day he committed the offence was good, the road surface was dry, and that there had been minimal traffic.
There will be much public cynicism, and no doubt satisfaction amongst those who believe that road law enforcement is unfair to motorists. But consider this - in an earlier broadcast video Mr Hughes rightly pointed out that roads are for horse riders, the elderly, children and the disabled, as well as for cars. So far so good.
But how interesting that he failed to mention cyclists. We may charitably think this omission to be a slip of the tongue, or unintended oversight - but just have a look at the video. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/05/npolice405.xml Is Mr Hughes reading from a prepared off-screen cue?
We may safely assume Mr Hughes did not deliberately leave out cyclists, undoubtedly the most vulnerable of all road users, apart from equestrians, as they both share space in the traffic flow with motor vehicles. But cyclists, unlike equestrians, have to cope with urban as well as rural roads - and are to be found in far greater numbers. This failure to even think of cyclists, coming from the very heart of road safety enforcement culture in this country, serves only to confirm the widespread belief that cyclists are invisible in more ways than one.