Peter Rhodes on deadly cyclists, wheelie bins and an exciting event at the tip

“A selfish minority of cyclists appear to believe that they are somehow immune to red lights.” So says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, proposing a new law of causing death by dangerous cycling.

Grant Shapps – targeting dangerous cyclists
Grant Shapps – targeting dangerous cyclists

It's long overdue. A bicycle at speed can be as deadly as a car. Under Shapps' law, the current maximum penalty of two years in prison for cyclists who kill might be raised to life imprisonment, the same as for car drivers. But how to enforce it?

How do we identify the rider or the machine? Some pundits suggest fitting bicycles with number plates. The snag is that about half the UK population of 70 million has access to a bike and about 10.7 million riders cycle more than once a week. Plating all those bikes would be a monumental national effort. Checking that a plate related to a particular bike would be well-nigh impossible. Responsible riders would play the game. Irresponsible ones would not. The sort of cyclist who jumps red lights will probably have fake plates, too. Great idea, Mr Shapps. Now, try making it work.

We are at that awesome moment in human development when one wheelie-bin system is being replaced with another. My grey bin is to be succeeded by a black bin and I have a neat little food caddy to trip over in the kitchen.

Things might have gone better if the council had issued the black bins before the new collections started. Or if the binmen had turned up on the final collection day of the old regime. Or if the new system, under which baby nappies can be left to marinade in a bin for up to three ghastly weeks, had not coincided with the hottest heatwave on record. The council assures me the bins are on the way but “I'm afraid we can't give you a definite timeline.”

Meanwhile we have booked a slot at our local recycling centre. The passes are issued through Eventbrite, the outfit that usually deals with concerts and festivals. Two days before the recycling appointment, Eventbrite sent me this excited message: “Your event is coming up soon!” So a trip to the tip is now an event? The world is going mad. It's not just me, is it?

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