So where do we end up if we fail to learn from those lessons? My dear friends, we end up in Scotland.
Or, rather, we end up where Scotland is now. With the flagship pile of pointlessness that is Niceway Code. A campaign that aims to make roads safer by politely asking everyone to be nice.
Now don't get all uppity because its the Scottish and not us. This same attitude is prevalent across our local councillors here too, but thankfully they haven't the brains or the resources to turn it into a 'campaign'... yet.
The problem I've got regarding Niceway Code isn't that I don't believe people should be nice on the road. The problem is, to use a phrase I so frequently resort to when analyzing government policy on cycling, the message is vacuous crap. We're going to deal with the fact that 70% of cyclist fatalities and serious injuries on the roads can be blamed solely on motorists by asking cyclists to be nice? We're saying that cyclists being rude is a contributory factor in motorists mowing us down?
Nearly all of the things we're supposedly doing that are so offensive aren't causing accidents. The bottom line? Someone annoying you by breaking a rule that has no impact on safety (accident stats show thats the case for red light jumping, something Niceway Code have hilighted as an issue without correctly relating it to safety) is not something you can morally equate with endangering people with your car. It makes no moral sense, it makes no statistical sense. It. Is. Wrong.
But more important than that, this reinforces the idea that we're all somehow collectively responsible. You are contributing towards the prejudice which fuels aggression and hatred directed towards us on the roads on a daily basis, so-called Niceway.
Even if that were not the case, are we seriously arguing that the people intentionally driving too close, too fast are amenable to this kind of gentle persuasion? They know what they're doing. You're asking them to politely pass us at 50mph within three feet of us?
The idea that there is moral equivalence between cyclists and motorists ignores the fact that the power and therefore hazard posed by each is not equivalent - accident stats back this up. It may seem appropriate to ask cyclists for a bit of give when also asking motorists to stop endangering us, but the reality is we have nothing to give - most of us don't jump reds, we don't ride on the pavement, and even if we did thats irrelevant - all of those factors combined still only amount for a few percent of all cyclist injuries.
I suppose from behind the windscreen wipers of your car this could look like a good idea. From anywhere else? Its expensive, counterproductive, victim blaming nonsense.