Kinky Pickles

Mark Ames of ibikelondon was interviewed on The Bike Show last night on Resonance FM. You can see the preamble and listen to it here (well worth it too). Highlights for the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club include the moment where Mark cites the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club as a favourite blog with ‘Jim from Worthing’ being ‘funny’ and ‘right up his street’.  Marvellous. And true.

The discussion was mainly about ‘Liveable Cities’ which Mark writes about in full here. In particular, Creating tomorrow’s liveable cities: Urban planning in a cold climate which took place on January 19th in London. Talks given by such luminaries as Professor Jan Gehl, Founding Partner of Gehl Architects who has spent his professional life improving the quality of other peoples lives by redesigning cityscapes to favour bicycle and pedestrian traffic allowing the street to engage with the people passing through it and vice versa.

From his website:

Gehl Architects’ vision is to create better cities. We aspire to create cities that are lively, healthy, attractive, sustainable and safe – and thereby improve people’s quality of life.

At Gehl Architects we firmly believe that a good city is a city where the human scale in city planning is looked well after. By allowing the aspirations for the public realm to drive the design process, the public spaces can serve as a place for all, while embracing the unique qualities and amenities of the specific urban context: A city should open up, invite and include people, having different activities and possibilities and thereby ensuring multiplicity and diversity.

Gehl Architects work to create sustainable environments and promote a holistic lifestyle. Our approach to design extends beyond the use of sustainable materials and advocating walking, cycling and alternative transport.

Nice stuff, eh?

Another speaker was Eric Pickles, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Erm, a man helicopter transport valued at £4099.75 last year from London to Llandudno and back courtesy of Noble Foods (from, but did vote very strongly for laws to stop climate change.

Mark stood up and asked the following question to Eric Pickles MP

We’re here today to talk about sustainability and liveable cities, and as a cyclist the end product of these kinds of discussions for me and for my fellow cyclists and pedestrians are the actual conditions on the streets.

So, as Secretary of State for Communities and given the known effect that overuse of private car transport has on local communities in terms of urban blight and noise, pollution, obesity and all the rest, how do you reconcile and balance those problems that face communities with your and Philip Hammonds ending of the so called war on the motorist?

This is the reply.

Eric Pickles
Well I mean, I’m a fat guy and me on a bicycle is not a pretty sight, as to this…

It works for Boris [Johnson, Mayor of London]…

Eric Pickles:
Boris is more svelte than me, I mean… Come on, don’t be such a p… don’t be such a puritan. We can find a reason… Well, not everybody can pedal in sort of rubber knickers up and down the place to go to work. It’s a question of finding a proper balance, that’s what we’re trying to do, is a proper balance. Boris’s bicycles work really well, I want to see that extended around the country. And I think we need to find better ways for making it safer for cyclists. Even I might venture out eventually if we make it just a little bit safer. And I think we’ve got to look for intelligent ways of helping people pool cars, work together. Also we’re going to be introducing more points for electric cars. I want to see public transport being made better, that’s why we’re, I think, paying that more attention towards high-speed rail underlines.

Everything has got to be a kind of a balance. You see, the problem with the old system was, we artificially restricted the number of parking places for new developments, and all that simply happened is people parked on the roads. Now without getting too emotional about it, I lost two constituents – young people precisely because of this ridiculous policy because people parked on the side and fire engines couldn’t get through to the appropriate place. So it’s just a kind of an example of how targets don’t match reality. We think ‘Job done’ because we got this kind of target. And I think that the motor vehicle has a perfectly respectable place in society and people who use them aren’t the enemy. So let’s encourage bikes, let’s encourage walking, let’s encourage obese people like me to lose a bit of weight by doing all this kind of things, but let’s not regard of people who travel by car as the enemy.’

Again we see common sense leave the room for a moment to go for a leisurely stroll through traffic clogged streets. If we can assume that ‘if you build it, they will come’, surely that works for cars on additional spaces in private developments as well as free parking on public roads thereby creating even more congestion. Mr Pickles plays the emotional card very well despite saying ‘without getting too emotional about it’, firstly with the tragic story of (we assume) fire crews being prevented from reaching their call due to parked vehicles leading to needless fatalities and then the victim mentality in defence of his ‘War on the Motorist’. I don’t believe Eric Pickles is a bad man or an evil man but just extremely misguided.

As for his ‘hilarious’ cyclist stereotype, rubber knickers might be in the thoughts of Conservative MPs and Max Mosley, but they aren’t really the garment of choice for mass cycling.

Here is yet another film about riding bicycles, not in rubber knickers (or even lederhosen with clogs if we’re going to use pitiful cultural stereotypes that don’t fit) in Utrecht. The beady eyed amongst you will spot Eric Pickles being overtaken at the start of the film.

Taking Stupidity to Extremes

Preparing to take Clacket Lane Service Station on the M25

War on the Motorist!

According to Wikipedia, War is a phenomenon of organized violent conflict,[1][2] typified by extreme aggression, societal disruption and adaptation, and high mortality.[1] There is some debate about other characteristics, but in general there is agreement that war involves at least two organized groups, is a premeditated activity at least on the part of one side, and at least one of the groups uses violence against the other.[3] The objective of warfare differs in accord with a group’s role in a conflict: The goals of offensive warfare are typically the submission, assimilation or destruction of another group, while the goals of defensive warfare are simply the repulsion of the offensive force and, often, survival itself. Relative to each other, combatants in warfare are called enemies. The terms military, militant, and militarism each refer to fundamental aspects of war, i.e. the organized group, the combative individual, and the supportive ethos (respectively).

As you have just read, it doesn’t really fit into this ‘War on the Motorist’ does it? Above all else, it’s an insult to our armed forces currently fighting overseas (who, you may be surprised to read, are not trying to fight the Taliban with use of average speed cameras and increased parking charges). It polarizes views by implying that all those that don’t have a car or can’t afford a car or don’t want to have a lifestyle dominated by the car are ‘enemies’ and leaves no room for maneuver. It achieves needless anger and resentment which, if allowed to proceed unchecked without the correct facts being made available can spill over into something far more intimidating on our roads. More like a War really.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club always likes a challenge – in this case, how to match the rising tide of Coalition hyperbole. We’ve already had a go at likening British cycle infrastructure to Shanty Towns of the Third World but as a kindly Lo Fidelity reader pointed out, that polarizes First World into ‘Good’ and Third World into ‘Bad’. Where we have a car culture that alienates communities, the Third World doesn’t see people suffering with depression or collapse of community. Fair points well made (and the Third World is seeing the uses of Royal Mail bicycles even if the Executive Board can’t) so let’s crank up the hyperbole dial to maximum to try and take this to its logical conclusion by describing the plight of cyclists and pedestrians in the style of Philip Hammond & Eric Pickles….

Genocide on the Cyclist & Pedestrian!!

According to Wikipedia, Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.[1] While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

I know it’s not like it in reality as that would be an incredible insult to the unimaginable suffering of Genocides past. I bet that as you were reading it, it seemed more pertinent to cyclists and pedestrians than the claimed ‘War on the Motorist’ though didn’t it? All I’m saying is that whilst Phillip Hammond and his ilk insist on playing the victim mentality card with overblown rhetoric, we might as well go mad and have fun with language to trump the stupidity of what is being stated by those in power. Churchill used far more literary devices than the current administration to far greater effect. And he abolished Road Tax which misguidedly gets caught up in the current ‘War on the Motorist’.

Suggestions are always welcome from Lo Fidelity Readers to suggest overblown phrases of their own to show the lot of Cyclists and Pedestrians (I’m certainly sure Freewheeler could think of a few).

 To keep in the spirit of things, I’m now going to get on my Dutch Bike of liberation to pedal along the Road of Destruction and Despair to the Supermarket of Global Domination to buy a Yoghurt of Internal Hope.

We at the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club sincerely hope that now Philip Hammond MP has ended this War on the Motorist, he gets the Nobel Peace Prize he so richly deserves.