Friday, 5 October 2018

Dutch to ban use of mobile phones when cycling

The Netherlands are ban to the use of mobile phones while cycling, reported a recent edition of The Guardian.

The ban is due to come into effect next July.  The law banning the use of handheld devices while driving was introduced in 2002.

The move comes following an increase in cycling accidents involving riders absorbed in “social media” activities on their smart phones.

The death of a young rider so engrossed with his smart phone led to a campaign for legislation.  

To me, it beggars belief that people do so. Clearly they don’t appear to understand the risks associated with the use of these smart devices to which we have become slaves.

We know, don’t we, that, many people using mobile phones appear to have switched off from their immediate surroundings. It’s what I might call a “disassociated state of mind”, distracting them from what’s going on around them.  

A “disassociated state of mind” was the state a novelist said he desired in order

to conjure up the twists and turns of his story lines.

Clearly, it’s best not to operate in this mode out on the streets.

Research in to the use of this technology when driving was found to reduce the driver’s reaction time to worse than if he or she were drunk.  

This is why they were banned in the first place, not because you would be driving with one arm, but because you would be driving with only half a brain. Or no brain at all, judging by the glazed expressions on faces.

The scientists had wanted hands-free phones banned, too.

Because unbeknown to the user, whether using a hand-held or hands-free, his or her mind is no longer on the job of driving although they think it is.

The essential factor here is in the subconscious connection with a remote voice, said the research.  It’s as if you’ve gone down the line to their place.

Talking with fellow companions in the vehicle is not the same thing at all.  They will be aware of the driving conditions and conversation tends to wax and wane accordingly, unlike the voice at the other end of the line.

Despite this the authorities decided they would allow use of hands-free for drivers.

They were persuaded when the police said they wouldn’t be able to detect if a driver was using hands free or not.  The upshot of this is that hands-free became accepted as safer to use. It reinforced the belief that the danger came from driving one handed, when this is a secondary issue.

Would we have known all this but for scientific research?  Maybe not.  I found out for myself when catching a flight from Heathrow. I needed gate 15 and was talking to someone on my phone, keeping an eye open for gate 15, or so I thought.  And I missed it until gate 20 came into focus and I thought bloody hell.   Pay attention.

Bloody device.  Marvellous things, of course.  We’ve become slaves to this magic. Well, not me. You, perhaps.

Such things were out of this world to me when I was a lad. Talking of which, dare we ponder what has driven this massive development in micro-wave and computer whizkiddery these past 50 years? Some say its harvested technology retrieved from crashed discs!

 (That’s enough of that, Ed).

Sorry. Wrong hat.

Meanwhile, back to the other-worldly Netherlands where the utopian cycling culture has been shaken by the use of the ubiquitous smartphone now implicated in one in five bike accidents in people aged 12 to 25.

Last year, 206 cyclists died in traffic accidents, 17 more than in 2016, according to official statistics.

This figure, however, is still low considering the huge number of people who cycle every day in the Netherlands which has a “population” of 22.5 million bikes and 17 million people.

About four million people cycle every day, and cycle use has increased by some 12 per cent in the last 13 years. The country’s 22,000 miles of cycle paths are becoming more crowded.

On average the Dutch cyclist rides over 600 miles and makes up to 300 journeys a year.

There is now another factor, the popularity of the electric bike which is encouraging inappropriate speed.

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