I’m willing to believe that, in the sphere of traffic safety alone, and averaged over the whole country, switching to permanent British Summertime or double summertime might well save several hundred lives, mostly of vulnerable road users. I’m also willing to believe that any number of other schemes would have the same effect. I don’t see RoSPA, for whom I have to say I have a fair amount of respect, lobbying for universal adoption of that great cyclopathic initiative: the spike in the centre of the steering wheel. I’m sure it would make drivers more cautious, though. Well, for the first few months until we got used to it. Then there’d have to be two spikes. Then three. We’d need to get the razor industry onto the technology side: they’ve got the experience.
But without knowing the knock-on effect to other areas of UK life (and as human beings we are actually more than its that commute, despite the image that the consensus might occasionally seem to portray) I can only comment on my own personal experience as a vulnerable road user myself, which is that I can’t see it having a great effect on my perception of my own safety.
Cotswolds drivers do not adapt their driving for fog, rain, strong winds or the presence of any other road user: they certainly don’t do it if you monkey around with the time when night starts. And for every driver that is less likely to see me, there’s a driver I’m more likely to see as his headlights swoop giddily and barely-controlled across the horizon in the distance. As it stood, if British Summertime followed me all the way to winter, I’d be cycling to work on the shortest day in the dark, and then cycling home again… in the dark. I appreciate accident statistics for dawn and dusk might have some asymmetry to them, but frankly if I weren’t able to at see where the other, dafter, faster bastards were at least once in a day then I’d feel cheated.
The brief trial in the late 1960s suggested that a blanket change of everyone’s BST habits would have other deleterious impacts along with saving lives on the roads. There could be knock-on effects in such industries as construction and farming, and being Scottish (which is less an industry and more a vocation). So why not try to isolate the kernel that causes the beneficial effectsâ€”negating the inability of most drivers to react appropriately to changes in road conditionsâ€”and attempt to implement it independent of the rest?
Vulnerable road users don’t want extra daylight, particularly. They want consideration; they want attention; they want concern and respect. If drivers can’t give us that, let’s get them off the roads, not fuck around with their clocks.