Bumbling around the interwebs on this glum, grey day, I came across a current campaign of the UK’s National Cyclists’ Organization– the CTC. It’s an ancient group, founded in 1878 as the Bicycle Touring Club and later rebranded as the Cyclists’ Touring Club. With over a century of experience, maybe the CTC feels endowed with the responsibility to protect cyclists’ rights. Or maybe they’re just cool. I don’t know. But check out this cool campaign: Stop SMIDSY. The acronym– sorry mate, I didn’t see you– is a little strange but infinitely cuter when you see the bear on the bike. Ah, is that SMIDSY? Don’t hit that guy. He’s bear on a bike.
If you’re not one of furry fandom, well nevermind. What the CTC gets right with the campaign is the placement of attention on reckless driving around vulnerable road users. They’re lobbying all the legal players– cops, prosecutors and courts– to encourage safer and more considerate road use. Smart, right? And they’re compiling data from cyclists and pedestrians to present to the various entities to make the powerful point: it’s usually not cyclists hurting themselves in road collisions. They know that other campaigns and even the Highway Code requires visibility from cyclists. They know that it isn’t just up to cyclists to protect themselves on the road; there’s other folks out there too. What they want now is accountability from the other party in those devastating crashes that seem to always want to blame the soft-tissue over the car. In their FAQs, they write:
The Stop SMIDSY campaign is more concerned with the response of the authorities when crashes and near-misses involving vulnerable roads users actually happen. It aims to address what our society can do to protect our most vulnerable road users, rather than putting the onus on cyclists and pedestrians to protect themselves.
Our society! All of us. We can all protect each other on the road. Neat, huh?
On the Stop SMIDSY site, a rider or pedestrian can report a crash or near-miss and seek legal and practical assistance. The stats compiled tell a story that is rarely reported in the media, especially after tragic crashes. Maybe it’s time to take a cue from an elder statesman among cycling clubs?