I read with some interest and considerable concern the awful story of a unicyclist in Hoe Street, London E17 who collided with and got trapped under a route 210 London Bus. What followed was a fantastic example of people power from some 50 or so people who tried and succeeded to lift the bus of the trapped man allowing him to be taken to hospital, in a very serious condition.
Earlier in the same week two women were killed in separate London incidents involving trucks.
Cycling in London is not the safest of activities as many cyclists who have had a ‘near death’ experience with HGV’s would attest. Heavy goods vehicles are responsible for over half of all cyclist deaths in London, a third across the UK as a whole.
But, despite these numbing statistics, the E17 unicyclist is a perfect example of somebody doing something stupid while being quite oblivious of the fact that most others would see it as extremely stupid.
Cyclists and other road users are warned over and over again to exercise extreme care in London and other busy cities. Cyclists are told not to undertake trucks, especially at road junctions. Trucks have signs advising caution and many are now fitting a vast array of safety devices to warn the driver of collision possibility.
For many who have driven in London, especially in peak commute times, the car driver experience of cyclists use of the road is simply terrifying and I suspect it is a mutually shared state of terror for those on two wheels.
But the two wheel brigade in London (and I count my self as an occasional member of that club but not in London) test the ‘nine lives’ principle to the very edge. For so many cyclists, traffic lights are simply a suggestion, pavements and zebra crossings are their cycle superhighway if one does not exist and if you hit a cyclist, or they hit you as they weave precariously from one driver blind spot to the next, heaven help you.
I cannot help noticing that despite the rules of the road, defined by the Highway Code and the Road Traffic Act, attempting to provide a sense of order and a feeling of safety for all road users, it does not always work out that way. All because some road users do something stupid, unlike the unicyclist, knowing it is really stupid and expect others to take responsibility for their stupidity.
So, why am I rambling on about this?
Because the analogy of linking cyclists, HGV’s, responsibility and common sense could be applied to be safeguarding people’s retirement funds.
We now have the ‘fiscal unicyclist’ about to do something stupid, not knowing it is stupid because……..the government says they can ‘cycle’ but without any proficiency training, test or understanding of the dangers.
Last week it became clear that for one major provider, 70% of savers exercising their new ‘pension freedoms’ withdrew the lot in the first 6 weeks of the so called pension revolution coming into force.
Yet only 3% of those savers who contacted the firm had spoken to Pension Wise!
Panacea predicts that the ‘harvest outcome’ from pension freedoms will be “the next PPI scandal”. The Government is giving retirees the freedom to do what they want with their ‘hard-earned’ and those pension reforms and freedoms are about to present the same risk opportunity to investors and pensioners that Hoe Street E17 offered the unicyclist. Their road will be fraught with some very clear dangers and many that are hidden.
Regulation and legislation needs to catch up with the retirement superhighway quickly as I suspect that those retirees who are doing their Lamborghini based ‘risk assessments’ may expect, but not get, public sympathy if they decide to do something stupid.
Warnings will be ignored and the rogues devising cunning plans to no doubt deny many the retirement they have saved for will not care at all about the damage and stress caused their selfish, boorish, poorly regulated behaviour.
They say that wherever there is blame there’s a claim. If ever there was a time to urge caution it is now.
Which brings me back nicely to the unicyclist.