Tuesday 11 August 2015 15.36 BST
“Socialism,” wrote the 1970s Chilean politician José Viera Gallo, “can only arrive by bicycle.” That’s why Jeremy Corbyn cycles everywhere. And come the revolution, prime minister Corbyn will see to it that this land of ours will be festooned with bike paths. Not the usual “crap” ones, oh no, the Corbynite cycleways will be clause IV bike paths, nationalised, surfaced with butter-smooth tarmac and wider than a wide thing.
Until then, we’ve got to make do with less then wholesome conditions, and that means sometimes sharing the road with tonnes of tin driven by texting, speeding, tweeting motorists.
I’m all for striving to reach Utopia (this is a small town in the Netherlands) but I live and cycle in the present day and I’d quite like motorists not to kill me today, and not just in 20 years’ time. Therefore alongside campaigning for infrastructure I’d quite like to affect some behavioural change right now. Naturally, expecting the current crop of motorists to treat cyclists with common courtesy is pie-in-the-sky thinking but we’ve got much more chance with the next crop.
There are now 17-year-old learner drivers who have had school-based Bikeability cycle training at school and it’s plausible that, because of memory imprinting, they will be more likely to treat cyclists with care. Part of the problem with some British motorists at the moment – and this is certainly different in the Netherlands – is that too few of them have ever ridden bicycles.
We need to reach student drivers via their driving instructors and this is something I’ve been doing via today’s universal medium of learning stuff: YouTube.
Last year I produced a video starring master driving instructor Blaine Walsh who explained why cyclists might sometimes ride “in the middle of the road”. The Driving Standards Agency sent this video to all UK driving instructors.
And now the DSA is all set to distribute the next video in the series, a film about rule 163 of the Highway Code, or how to give cyclists oodles of space, not the inch some motorists think is fine and dandy. Blaine Walsh is our driving representative again (he has a YouTube channel with 400 driving instructor subscribers) and from the world of cycling we’ve only gone and got Chris Boardman.
In the good old days a video like this would been produced and disseminated by the government as a public information film but the government doesn’t do such sensible things any more so the Bicycle Association and British Cycling funded this one.
The video takes the photograph of a wide overtake from the Highway Code and makes it move. We had Blaine overtaking a pack of cyclists from Exeter Wheelers but also made sure Chris pointed out that rule 163 applies to everyday cyclists, too.
The film is called Space, and lasts just three minutes. Beautifully, it finishes with a couple of correct overtakes from the real world, including a textbook overtake from an HGV driver that should be compulsory viewing for every motorist.