France police arrest drunk cyclists: That’s as stupid as the War on Drugs


(The true axles of evil…?)

Now, here’s something really stupid. A bit like invading one country, when you have a bone to pick with a fugitive explosive backpacker from a totally different one.

Something, in short, that’s not just foolhardy but that has quite deadly but perfectly foreseeable, unintended consequences:

“10 cyclists were arrested in Bordeaux for drunkenness as part of a nationwide crackdown denounced by diners as an insult to the country’s gastronomic tradition. Police claim that the action is in response to a spate of accidents involving road-users on two wheels, but it has increased an already heated debate over official attitudes toward alcohol consumption. French food lovers, who say it is impossible to savour the country’s cuisine without its best-known beverage, are calling for tolerance when they cycle home afterwards.”

Of course, in Holland we have the same kind of alcohol laws as they have in France. In our country it is against the law to be drunk whenever you are out on the road, whether you do that as a car or motor driver, as a cyclist, a pedestrian or someone riding his or her pony, donkey, Dobermann pinscher or a privately owned & cloned Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The alcohol laws don’t care about your travelling arrangements, as long as you move or loiter in a sober fashion.

Unlike their French counterparts though, the Dutch police don’t go about breathalizing cyclists and pedestrians (unless they are arrested for breaking any other laws than being drunk, that is.) These Dutch police officers won’t come out and say so, of course, but they choose not to harass cyclists and pedestrians in this fashion because our men and women in blue know better than most that, at times, the law is an ass.

You don’t need to be a statistician to realize that, no matter how hard they try, pedestrians and cyclists will never be able to wreak as much havoc or kill as many other road users as motorists do. A suicidally reckless pedestrian or Hannibal Lecter type cyclist will never be a match for a mildly demented old lady or a distracted Church of England vicar driving the humblest of Peugeots or Ford Escorts.

Yes, it has happened that a drunk pedestrian or cyclist caused an accident in which other people were hurt or even died but it just doesn’t happen very often – and it certainly doesn’t happen often enough to resort to the kind of policies and tactics that the French police have decided to adopt.

In other words, drunk drivers are a real danger and police and other government agencies should do all they can to inform people of the dangers of drunk driving, encourage them to find other means of transport when drunk and have strict laws with real teeth for those who do drink and drive.

What you really don’t want to do is to go after drunk cyclists and pedestrians, of whom quite a large number also own cars. The moment you pursue people like the latter (who for one reason or the other chose not to drive their cars that day) these folks may well decide to drive their cars the next time they are going somewhere where they will drink alcohol, reasoning that they may as well be hanged for one offence as the other.

They might even argue that they have a better chance avoiding getting caught when driving their car than by going home drunk by other, much slower means – and each person deciding to do so would risk their own and other people’s lives to a much greater and much more real extent than a hundred drunk pedestrians or cyclists would ever manage to do.

Like the War on Drugs, or the War on Terror, the War on Drunk Pedestrians and Cyclists is the truly dumb thing to do.

(John McCain: Singing at the French Policemen’s Ball…?)

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