Injustice is – what? Depressing? Sobering? Not surprising? I don’t know what’s a realistic response. For whatever reason, I had not come across the CTC’s Road Justice campaign until lately. Now I have, and over the last few rides I’ve found myself thinking about just what it means for that campaign to be necessary.
The issues it campaigns about, of course, I have been aware of. (I can even say that in the past I’ve donated my poker winnings to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.) And as an individual, looking at reports about road traffic accidents involving cyclists, it’s often seemed to me that the police don’t take the plight of cyclists seriously. I’ve seen the same when it comes to cycle theft too – corroborated anecdotally by my local bike shop and a neighbour who’s been victim of professional bike thieves. But those have just been general impressions and I’ve been willing to believe that I might be wrong, that I don’t have all the evidence.
Having this general, vague awareness of the justice system’s bias against cyclists made concrete by a body such as the CTC, backed up by evidence, takes it to another level. The question becomes, as Lenin said, ‘What is to be done?
Middle aged, middle class and middle brow (I know my limits), my natural, ingrained belief was that the police and the components of the justice system generally are all broadly on the side of what’s right, what’s good. I don’t know where it leaves me to find that when it comes to me as a cyclist, they’re not. Although not the same thing qualitatively, perhaps it leaves me broadly in the same boat as the Hillsborough victims’ families, or the Birmingham Six, or the Lawrence family … etc.
A society where more and more people are being given just cause to doubt the rule of law is a society in danger. We can only function as a society if there’s a broad consensus about right and wrong. Lose the consensus and we all stand to lose everything.
Given that, on the whole, this society is one I’m more-or-less happy to be living in, I think the only logical answer to the legal system’s failings is that I should be trying to fix what is wrong, in the belief that although there are problems far greater than ‘a few rotten apples’ (as the police in particular would like to have us believe), it is still fixable.
And, given that the vast majority of people in this country – as witnessed by their general passivity – are similarly more-or-less happy with their lot, I suspect the same is true for most other people too; i.e. we should all be trying to fix what’s wrong, rather than merely being bystanders or victims.
As an easily achievable small step in the right direction, for cyclists, simply supporting the CTC’s campaigns is doing something to fix things.
There is any number of other causes worth fighting for, with associated organizations taking up the fight, that we can all support too.