1 T E A C H E R S N O T E S ON YOUR BIKE UNIT SUMMARY In this unit pupils look at some of the problems faced by young people wishing to cycle on busy or dangerous roads, and decide how these might be addressed. Pupils also consider whether legislation is preferable to other ways of bringing about social change, for example through education or publicity campaigns. CURRICULUM CONTEXTS English Mathematics Geography Education for Citizenship community being a citizen the citizen and the law democracy in action leisure public services Health Education Environmental Awareness TOPICS 1 A Problem for Cyclists Pupils examine the difficulties and dangers facing cyclists today and consider how cycling might be made safer for all concerned. 2 Helmet Headaches A mock parliamentary debate on whether the wearing of cycle helmets should be made compulsory 1 A PROBLEM FOR CYCLISTS Aim To examine some of the practical and legal difficulties facing young people cycling on busy or dangerous roads To consider how cycling could be made safer Time 60 to 75 minutes Preparation Photocopy pages 42 to 44. Have available a copy of the Highway Code, which outlines the laws which apply to cyclists. Arrange the seating to allow pupils to work in pairs or small groups. Activity A picture story is used to ask whether there should be changes in the law to make cycling safer. Give out page 42. Read the story with the class and invite reactions to the dilemma facing Anna about how to cross the busy main road. Should she ride her bicycle on the pavement as her mother says What would the class do in her position How many pupils regularly ride their bike on the pavement Should the police take action in such cases The letters on page 43 take the exercise a stage further. Ask pupils how they would reply to the first letter and whether they think there should be a change in the law. The information on page 44, Tough Nuts, gives details of accidents involving cyclists. Ask pupils, in pairs or groups, to draw up a list of ways in which the number of accidents to cyclists could be reduced. Encourage pupils to think of measures affecting both cyclists and motorists. Ask them to rank their ideas, and then to write perhaps for display a more detailed proposal on their best suggestion. Pupils who find difficulty in writing at length on one proposal may find it easier to write a couple of sentences about their first three ideas. If there is time, the question of the safety of cyclists in the vicinity of the school can also be considered. Ask pupils to trace their route to school on a map and discuss the danger spots for those who cycle to school. If any accident black stops emerge, pupils might consider what might be done to reduce the likelihood of further accidents.
2 T E A C H E R S N O T E S 2 HELMET HEADACHES Aim Activity To discuss the arguments for and against the compulsory wearing of cycle safety helmets. To introduce the basic elements of a parliamentary debate. Time Up to two hours Preparation Photocopy last three pages. Arrange the seating to allow pupils to work in groups of up to six. This could include writing to local councillors about their ideas for improvements, and inviting a local politician, police officer, or road safety officer into school to discuss the problem further. Background The number of pedal cyclists killed in Britain each year has fallen steadily since the end of World War Two. In 1990 there were 256 fatalities, and in 1991 there were 239, compared with 918 in Current UK statistics for pedal cyclist deaths per head of population are also low compared with the rest of Europe. Statistics released in 1989 show that only Germany and Spain have fewer deaths than the United Kingdom. A major cause of the reduction in deaths of pedal cyclists has been a sharp decline in recent year sin the use of bicycles on the road. For example, far fewer children cycle to school today than twenty years ago. Data published by the Commission of the European Communities indicates that four per cent of journeys in the UK are by pedal cycle, compared with 11 per cent in Germany, 16 per cent in Sweden and 18 per cent in Denmark. In some Dutch cities, bicycles are used for 40 to 50 per cent of all journeys. Therefore when the use of the pedal cycle is taken into account, casualty rates in Britain become higher than in some other European countries. Research carried out at the University of Leeds in 1989, using Department of Transport statistics, indicates that the casualty rate for cyclists in Holland is one seventh, and in Sweden one tenth that of Britain. Riding a pedal cycle on a footpath remains an offence under Section 72 of the Highways Act There is no mention of bicycles by name in this law, passed four years before the invention of the self-propelled bicycle. There is instead a general reference to any person who wilfully rides on a footpath by the side of a road or set apart for the use of or accommodation of foot passengers. This is an area of law which has tended to fall into disregard by virtue of the changed situation on the roads. Contrary to popular opinion, it is against the law for even a child to ride a bicycle (or tricycle) on the pavement, but there is clearly a lack of public will in most situations to drive young cyclists off the pavement on to the road. In the event of an accident caused by a child riding on the pavement, its parent or guardian would not normally be liable in law for its actions, unless it could be shown the child was acting on the parent s instructions or was acting as the parent s agent (for example, in going on an errand). This topic is in two parts. In the first, pupils discuss the advantages and disadvantages of legislation making the wearing of crash helmets compulsory for cyclists. If time allows, they can move onto the second part and draft and debate a bill designed to enforce the wearing of cycle safety helmets. ONE DAY I LL GET ONE Give out page 45. Ask the class to look at the picture of the cyclists and to think of reasons why cyclists may be for or against wearing safety helmets. This discussion will raise questions of peer group pressure and the need felt by many people to maintain a certain image. Carry out a poll into the numbers of pupils in the class who wear a helmet and their attitudes towards wearing them. If time is available, this can take the form of a more detailed questionnaire. Collect the results of this opinion poll and discuss the significant points. For example, how many appear to be influenced by the opinions and behaviour of their friends What are the difficulties of starting a trend, or of being the odd one out
3 T E A C H E R S N O T E S In the final question, pupils are asked whether they are for or against a change in the law. CHANGING THE LAW If the majority of the class is in favour of changing the law, pupils can use the bill on page 46 to gain some idea of the parliamentary procedure surrounding the creation of new laws. Discussion of the bill, clause by clause, will help pupils understand the complexities of the issue and the difficulties facing those who wish to bring about social change. Clauses may be added or amended according to the ideas coming from the class. Although the number of MPs on the committees which scrutinise a bill is often large (between 20 and 60), this stage is most easily managed in class with pupils in small groups of no more than six. Give pupils a copy of page 47 and use this to explain, in general terms, how laws are made or changed by Parliament. Provide pupils with a copy of the Safety Helmet (Cyclists) Bill, page 46 and ask them to look at each clause and decide whether it should be changed before the bill becomes law. According to the age and ability of the class, you may also wish to look at the difficulties of defining terms a problem always faced by those who make rules or laws. This can be an interesting exercise in itself and can help develop important language skills. What is meant by helmet, road, and cycling It must be made clear what should and should not be included under these terms. The term cycle may also need defining. Is cycle to refer only to two-wheeled vehicles Should it include three-wheeled vehicles, or perhaps only those tricycles ridden by adults For the purposes of this bill, children s bicycles fitted with stabilisers might be excluded from the meaning of the word. Each group should produce a copy of their completed bill for display. Use these to indicate to the whole class the kind of amendments that were made. Background Although ministers have powers to pass regulations, vested in them by statute, fundamental changes in the law can only be made by Parliament. Proposals for a new law are introduced into the House of Commons or House of Lords in the form of a bill. Most bills first appear in the Commons. At the first reading, the title of the bill is announced to MPs, and a date is set for the second reading. At the second reading, the principles of the bill are debated by Parliament. If these are rejected, the bill proceeds no further. If accepted, the bill moves to the committee stage, where a group of MPs, chosen on the basis of party strength and specialist qualification, examines and possibly amends the bill, clause by clause. The amended bill is brought back to the main body of the House for the report stage, where amendments are debated. If approved, the bill is given its third reading, and is passed to the House of Lords, where it follows a series of stages similar to those found in the House of Commons. The House of Lords may amend the bill, but all amendments must be approved by the House of Commons. The bill is then given the royal assent and becomes law. The monarch no longer signs bills. The monarch s assent today is just a constitutional convention.
4 T E A C H E R S N O T E S RESOURCES Teaching materials and statistics on all aspects of road safety are published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), Cannon House, Priory Queensway, Birmingham, Support and information is also available from local road safety officers who can be contacted through the policy or the technical services department of the local council.
5 A PROBLEM FOR CYCLISTS WHICH WAY WHAT THE LAW SAYS Under the Highways Act 1835, it is against the law for anyone to ride on a footpath or pavement. A person found to have broken this law can be fined up to 500, although the actual fine will depend on how well off the offender is. What would you do if you were Anna A police officer on duty sees two young people ages 12 and 14 cycling on the pavement. This is against the law, what should the police officer do
6 PAVING THE WAY Should the law be changed Here are three points of view based on letters to the newspaper Dear Sir, The roads near my home are very busy, and I sometimes ride my bike on the pavement to escape the dangers of the traffic. One day, while riding on the pavement on my way back from work, I was stopped by a police officer and told that I must either walk with my bike, or ride it in the road. I finished my journey on foot but I will not do the same again. If the police decide to prosecute me I hope they will do the same to all the motorists who either drive or park their cars on the pavements Dear Sir, I think Dennis Adams is right. People should be allowed to cycle on the footpath if they wish, as long as the do not put pedestrians in any danger. Why not make a speed limit of five miles per hour for this Tracey Farmer Barnsley Dennis Adams Manchester Dear Sir, I hope Dennis Adams is arrested by a police officer the next time he rides his bike on the pavement. Life is already difficult enough for the pedestrian with such hazards as parked cars, overhanging branches and all the mess that dog owners allow their animals to leave behind. Don t add to our problems by letting cyclists loose on the pavement as well. Alice Bottomley London What would you say to the writer of the first letter who says he will break the law Should the law be changed to allow cycling on the pavement
7 TOUGH NUTS Cycling Accidents facts and figures Pedal cyclists killed, by age (1990) Pedal cyclists kills by age (1990) There are also more than 27,000 cyclists injured in accidents each year. About 70 per cent of cyclists killed or seriously injured received major head injuries, including fractured skulls and brain damage. Who is to blame for accidents When accidents occur involving cyclists and motor vehicles, it is thought that the motorist is at fault in about 65 per cent of cases. The cyclist is thought to be at fault in about 25 per cent of cases. Both the motorist and the cyclist are thought to be at fault in about 10 per cent of cases. Use the information on this page to help you draw up a list of ways cycling could be made safer. Put these in order, with your best idea for safer cycling coming first.
8 HELEMET HEADACHES ONE DAY I LL GET ONE Why do some people wear a helmet, and others not Make up a short questionnaire to find out what people think about wearing cycle helmets. You could include questions on the number of people who regularly wear a helmet when cycling; why some people do not wear a safety helmet; whether people would feel safer wearing a helmet; whether more people would wear a helmet if their friends did so; whether there is a difference between what young people and adults think about this; whether the cost of buying a helmet is preventing some people from wearing one. SHOULD THE LAW BE CHANGED If all cyclists wore safety helmets, there would be fewer deaths and serious injuries and money would be saved on hospital bills. Some people feel that passing a law to make cycle helmets compulsory is the best way to reduce head injuries. They say that lessons can be learnt from what happened when helmets for motor cyclists were made compulsory. Many people thought that motor cyclists should be free to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. Eventually a law was passed in 1972 making it compulsory for them to wear a crash helmet. Many deaths and serious injuries have been prevented as a result. Wearing a helmet does not prevent a cyclist from having an accident. A cyclist may still be badly hurt even if he or she is wearing a helmet. The helmets are only designed to give protection from a fall, not from a collision with a moving vehicle. Make a list of reasons in favour of using the law to force cyclists to wear crash helmets. Make a list of reasons against making cycle helmets compulsory. What is the opinion of your group Do we need a law to make the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory
9 Safety Helmets (Cyclists) Bill A B I L L INTITULED An Act to make compulsory the wearing of safety helmets for cyclists. BE IT ENACTED by the Queen s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows: 1. It shall be an offence for cyclists not to wear a safety helmet whilst cycling on the roads. 2. It shall be an offence for cyclists for the parent of a child under ten years of age to allow him or her to cycle on the road without a safety helmet. 3. A person guilty of an offence under this Act shall be liable to a fine of up to This law shall come into force one year after receiving the royal assent.
10 CHANGING THE LAW IOne of the jobs of a Member of Parliament (MP) is to play a part in making and changing the law. It usually takes a long time to change the law, because a new law or bill as it is known is discussed and debated several times by MPs before it becomes law. This is what usually happens FIRST READING Just the title of the bill is read out in Parliament. The bill is printed and a date is fixed for its next reading. SECOND READING The main ideas behind the bill are discussed by MPs in Parliament, and then voted on. If MPs agree with the bill, it passes to the next stage. If not, the bill is not discussed any more and cannot become law. COMMITTEE STAGE A committee of MPs discusses the bill in great details. This is where sections of the bill might be changed. REPORT STAGE The bill, as changed by the committee of MPs, comes back to the whole house (all MPs) to be approved. Changes are still possible at this stage. THIRD READING The bill is debated again as a whole, and voted on. HOUSE OF LORDS When the bill has gone through all these stages, it is passed to the House of Lords where it is debated in a similar way. The House of Lords is made up of senior politicians who have been made Lords and Ladies, senior bishops, senior judges and members of the aristocracy with inherited titles. Any changes to the bill made by the House of Lords have to be approved by the House of Commons before they can become law. MPs in the House of Commons will take note of the ways in which the House of Lords thinks that the bill should be changed but they don t have to follow them. THE ROYAL ASSENT When the bill has been agreed by both Houses of Parliament it is given the royal assent (approval) and becomes law.