21st November 2011

There's a new law in France. Cyclists and pedestrians now have absolute priority on French roads, from immediate effect. Whereas before they had priority only at certain spots like pedestrian crossings, now they can cross wherever they please. Pedestrians only need to show an ostensible gesture to cross, e.g. a hand gesture (!), and all approaching trucks must come to a crashing halt. Drivers who ignore the new rules face a fine of 135 euros or lose 4 points from their licence. Cyclists too are now allowed to skip red lights to turn red. But, they've always done that anyway! Cyclists have always loved the apparent flexibility of the road: to choose whether to obey the road laws or the pedestrians' - so now the law agrees.
Chaos looms. And what should French parents teach their children? Now they can cross wherever they like?? But at least I don't see in France what always happened in the UK: mothers pushing baby buggies down the kerb, using it as a battering ram, and placing their vulnerable child on the road until a vehicle stops. Ordinary people don't generally have the knowledge of precise stopping distances for large vehicles like trucks and buses. They often wander into the road, chatting to friends.
Quel catastrophe!

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