Column: Roger's Soapbox

Pedaling Risk Management

By: | November 1, 2017 • 2 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

In big cities, most notably London and New York, the law does not require bicycle riders to carry insurance or even to register their vehicles. It’s just a pushbike, after all, like the kiddies ride.

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Sort of. In 2014, almost 4,000 New York cyclists were injured, and 20 killed. The same year, London reported 432 serious injuries or deaths among cyclists.

An antagonistic relationship exists between bike riders and motorists, with separate hostilities rife between bike riders and pedestrians.

Cyclists are routinely knocked off their steeds by inattentive motorists, and occasionally by malicious ones. Similarly, pedestrians are being knocked down by bike riders.

We’re familiar from movies and TV with images of courier bikers dashing hither and yon to deliver urgent packages.

We’re familiar from real life with some bikers breaking speed limits and sailing through red lights, as if the law didn’t apply to them.

Public bike sharing has greatly increased the carnage on the roads or, where I live, on the sidewalks.

A couple of years ago, my local authority decided that cyclists should move off the roads and onto the sidewalks, where they now routinely cause accidents. I live in Britain’s oldest community. The powers that be callously calculated that older dead pedestrians would have made a smaller economic contribution than younger dead cyclists would have.

Cyclists are routinely knocked off their steeds by inattentive motorists, and occasionally by malicious ones. Similarly, pedestrians are being knocked down by bike riders.

Commercial bikers must carry insurance. Non-commercial cyclists are often protected by their homeowners’ or rental insurance, but not everyone has such coverage.

As keenly as I dislike government regulation and interference, it is time for bicycle registration and insurance to be made mandatory.

Arguments for the idea: bikers use the roads but don’t pay for the privilege; accidents happen; some cyclists ignore the law; bike theft is endemic; the standard of cycling might improve if riders were accountable.

Against: more government and its attendant costs; a “tax” on a “green” activity at a time when we’re choking the planet; slower traffic.

Earlier this year, a cyclist in London, illegally hurtling along on a pushbike not fitted with front brakes, knocked down and killed a woman who was trying, quite legally, to cross the road. As she lay dying, the biker stood over her, screaming abuse because she had delayed his progress. In court, he showed no remorse.

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Not guilty of manslaughter, was the verdict. A separate court jailed the reckless cyclist for “wanton and furious cycling,” under a law passed in 1861, which Government has no plans to update.

Mandatory bicycle insurance would plainly be in the public interest. Car drivers, bus drivers, and airline pilots must have insurance. Of course they must; no one argues with that. Why not include bike riders?

Bikers who argue against insurance say that there are relatively few cases of cyclists at fault. OK. Say that’s true. Then the premium would be low. In Portugal, for example, an annual premium of less than $30 applies.

Don’t bother staying tuned to see if bicycle insurance becomes mandatory. It won’t, not any time soon. Political correctness cites an Animal Farm-based argument: two wheels good, everyone else get out of the way. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Pinnacle Entertainment’s VP of enterprise risk management says he’s inspired by Disney’s approach to risk management.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Bus boy at a fine dining restaurant.

R&I: How did you come to work in this industry?

I sent a résumé to Harrah’s Entertainment on a whim. It took over 30 hours of interviewing to get that job, but it was well worth it.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

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The Chinese citizen (never positively identified) who stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. That kind of courage is undeniable, and that image is unforgettable. I hope we can all be that passionate about something at least once in our lives.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber risk, but more narrowly, cyber-extortion. I think state sponsored bad actors are getting more and more sophisticated, and the risk is that they find a way to control entire systems.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Training and breaking horses. When I was in high school, I worked on a lot of farms. I did everything from building fences to putting up hay. It was during this time that I found I had a knack for horses. They would tolerate me getting real close, so it was natural I started working more and more with them.

Eventually, I was putting a saddle on a few and before I knew it I was in that saddle riding a horse that had never been ridden before.

I admit I had some nervous moments, but I was never thrown off. It taught me that developing genuine trust early is very important and is needed by all involved. Nothing of any real value happens without it.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

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Setting very aggressive goals and then meeting and exceeding those goals with a team. Sharing team victories is the ultimate reward.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Disney World. The sheer size of the place is awe inspiring. And everything works like a finely tuned clock.

There is a reason that hospitality companies send their people there to be trained on guest service. Disney World does it better than anyone else.

As a hospitality executive, I always learn something new whenever I am there.

James Cunningham, vice president, enterprise risk management, Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.

The risks that Disney World faces are very similar to mine — on a much larger scale. They are complex and across the board. From liability for the millions of people they host as their guests each year, to the physical location of the park, to their vendor partnerships; their approach to risk management has been and continues to be innovative and a model that I learn from and I think there are lessons there for everybody.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

We are doing a much better job of getting involved in a meaningful way in our daily operations and demonstrating genuine value to our organizations.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Educating and promoting the career with young people.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Being able to tell the Pinnacle story. It’s a great one and it wasn’t being told. I believe that the insurance markets now understand who we are and what we stand for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

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John Matthews, who is now retired, formerly with Aon and Caesar’s Palace. John is an exceptional leader who demonstrated the value of putting a top-shelf team together and then letting them do their best work. I model my management style after him.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

I read mostly biographies and autobiographies. I like to read how successful people became successful by overcoming their own obstacles. Jay Leno, Jack Welch, Bill Harrah, etc. I also enjoyed the book and movie “Money Ball.”

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Ice water when it’s hot, coffee when it’s cold, and an adult beverage when it’s called for.

R&I: What does your family think you do?

In my family, I’m the “Safety Geek.”

R&I:  What’s your favorite restaurant?

Vegas is a world-class restaurant town. No matter what you are hungry for, you can find it here. I have a few favorites that are my “go-to’s,” depending on the mood and who I am with.

If you’re in town, you should try to have at least one meal off the strip. For that, I would suggest you get reservations (you’ll need them) at Herbs and Rye. It’s a great little restaurant that is always lively. The food is tremendous, and the service is always on point. They make hand-crafted cocktails that are amazing.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is Lindo Michoacan. There are three in town, and I prefer the one in Henderson as it has the best view of the valley. For seafood, you can never go wrong with Joe’s in Caesar’s Palace.




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]