The blame is usually laid on drivers after an accident. It is enough to read comments under the news about some accident in order to have no doubts: angry citizens blame a driver without seeing any video from the scene as well as without any understanding of the situation, investigation or court. And if he is also misfortunate enough to have an expensive car, he automatically becomes guilty.
I wrote a whole novel about this paradox (although some believe that the novel is about opera), and now I would like to return to this topic and say a few words about the other road users. For roads and streets are not meant exclusively for cars, as urbanists, cyclists, and pedestrians like to say. I have to agree with them, but I have something to add: if so, then traffic rules are not meant for car drivers alone either.
A recent journey between the district centres urged me to write about it. The road led through numerous villages. It was a pleasant Sunday evening, and the hot summer dusk was falling onto the ground. The oncoming cars were blinding me with their headlights so that I inadvertently wanted to move as close to the right road marking as possible. But it was dangerous because some cyclists were coming out of the darkness from time to time there. They were wearing dark clothing, had no reflectors or lights, were appearing out of nowhere, making incomprehensible manoeuvres, turning and going around some obstructions without any signal. They were often drunk and unable to adequately control their bicycles. Self-murderers!
The situations when cyclists pass pedestrian crossings in cities without stopping, having forgotten that a pedestrian crossing is called so for a reason, are equally common. The thing is that the driver of a car expects that people will move slowly at a pedestrian crossing. But it is a completely different situation when a vehicle (bicycle) flies out onto it. The driver of the car sometimes can’t react or brake in time. And how many times have I seen children riding their bikes on the roads and not holding steering wheels, or having lifted their steering wheels and moving on the back wheel alone! My point is that none of the road users wants to get into an accident or become a culprit. But very few road users seem to remember that not only do they have rights but they also have certain responsibilities.
I recall a situation that happened with a friend of mine in Warsaw a few years ago. He was stopped by police because he was giving his girlfriend a ride on a bicycle frame, that is – according to the law – on a vehicle not properly equipped for transporting passengers. While the police were checking his documents, they noticed that the guy’s language was a bit indistinct, so they also checked him for alcohol. As a result, he paid a fine (almost 100 euros!) and was banned from cycling for the next six months! I would also add that there is a fine for talking on the mobile phone while cycling (50 Euros), riding on a pavement (10 Euros) and for towing to other vehicles (20 Euros) in Poland. By the way, a child between the age of 10 and 18 must have something like a “permission to ride a bicycle” on public roads in Poland. It can only be issued after passing the appropriate tests and exam.
It seems to me that Ukraine had to regulate cycling traffic long ago, it should strengthen its requirements to cyclists, and check them more often. It must apply not only to children but also to all other happy owners of bicycles. I believe that checking cyclists for alcohol intoxication, fining them for the absence of reflectors or headlights, and the creation of mandatory traffic rules tests (if you want to be a road user, learn the rules first!) would significantly improve the situation and make roads safer. For every road, the user has one aim: to reach the destination point safely. So not only do ALL road users have to know their rights but they also have to fulfil their responsibilities.