Bring Back The 1865 Locomotive Act
One of the institutions of British cycling is the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton Ride . With 27,000 riders heading out to cause traffic mayhem (the roads on the route are closed to proper, tax-paying traffic…) the ride’s about 60 miles, and the event has been run since 1980.
But actually, it’s a pale imitation of the original London to Brighton event - The Veteran Car Run . This is the oldest motoring event in the world, dating back from 1896. The first event was in celebration of the repeal of the 1865 Locomotive Act - also known as the Red Flag Act .
This act put in place a mandatory 4mph speed limit for all mechanically propelled vehicles, and was enforced by the vehicle having to be proceeded by a man carrying a red flag - to warn pedestrians and horses of the approach of the infernal contraption being driven along the road.
According to this news that was highlighted this morning by Copenhagenize.com , it seems that those crazy Californian’s are trying to bring back the Locomotive Act. Except they’ve gone and got it all arse about face:
Yes, that’s right. They’ve got the pedestrian waving a flag to attract the attention of the fast moving vehicles, in the vain hope that they’ll slow down.
Because when you think about it, it’s the pedestrian’s (or for that matter, cyclists’) responsibility to make themselves visible. Unless they make at least this small, token effort, how can we reasonably expect drivers to look up from their phones to check their speedometers, let alone look at what’s on the road ahead of them.
Alternatively, maybe it’s time to bring back the Red Flag Act for cars. In addition to slowing down motor vehicles to a human-scale speed, it’d be a fantastic job creation scheme.