Sticking up for the vulnerable road user

When bloggers aren’t ranting, they’re apologising for breaks in transmission. Quite a break.

I’d been meaning to mention the early day motion EDM 407 for a while and the other day, after reading this, I finally wrote the following to my MP:

Dear Stephen Hammond,

As one of your constituents who cycles, I am wondering if you are planning on supporting EDM 407? It attempts to raise the profile of victims of road accidents, in particular, that cyclists are often not given enough support by the justice system.

I would be interested in your opinions on the related concept of ‘strict liability’, where vulnerable road users are automatically considered the innocent party unless it can be proven otherwise. Obviously there are numerous road users, whether cyclists, pedestrians or motorists, who flagrantly disobey various traffic laws and the Highway Code on a daily basis, but the majority are law abiding. For every uninsured, speeding motorist, red light jumping cyclist or headphone-wearing pedestrian crossing the road without looking, there are many more normal people just going about their day.

Over 80 cyclists have been killed on Britain’s roads this year. If a terrorist group had been that ‘successful’ the country would be in uproar.

I’ve cycled nearly 5000 miles in the last year (and driven a similar amount) and I can assure you that the UK’s roads are not fit for purpose. To many times cyclists and motor vehicles are forced together: many cycle lanes just disappear moments before a junction, in shared bus lanes motorbikes zoom past a few inches from your ear and every advanced stop zone is so full of mopeds that cyclists can rarely get a look in.

Cycling is cheap, convenient and healthy, but when my wife would rather drive the half mile to the butchers on Leopold Road rather than take one of our our young children on the back of a bike because of the danger, it has got to change.

I want my children to be able to cycle safely in London – to go to school by bike, to think that cycling is normal, to not have to be driven everywhere and contribute to the problem.

The current situation is untenable and successive governments have failed us all. The roads are crammed with cars – either parked or in queues – because most people can’t imagine an alternative. They would rather get in their car and exacerbate the problem than risk their life and the lives of their children on the roads of Wimbledon, Merton, London and the rest of the UK.

Yours sincerely,

See you next year, probably.

Email disclaimers

I own a number of domains. Recently one of these has started to receive a number of email messages to apparently genuinely real people who definitely don’t have an email address on that domain but who, for some reason, are receiving email. (My favourite theory is a badly configured mail server appending an incorrect domain to outgoing messages.)

Several of the messages I’ve received have had disclaimers appended to the end, you know the form,

This email is only intended for the recipient, if you are not the recipient, please douse your computer in moonshine and howl at the moon.

(Due credit to MetaFilter)

I have taken to responding in a slightly disdainful tone (haughty? moi?) that if the sender can’t be bothered to verify that they’re sending email to real addresses then I can’t be held to their grip on the law.

Google searches suggest I’m on reasonably solid ground:

Even though their effectiveness in court is doubtful, they may provide a useful argument in negotiations to resolve a dispute.

The central conceit here is that while I’m not the target for the email I’m being given something. I’m not picking it up in the street, looking over someone’s shoulder or poking my nose into someone else’s private space. This is my email account and someone is, mistakenly, putting something of theirs into my inbox. I refuse to accept conditions – if they can’t send it to addresses they have validated to be correct, why should I obey their wishes?

I’m interested in why I might have got this wrong. I’m also interested in the real reasons why other people have so little regard for their businesses that they could configure their systems to get it wrong.